Hot discussions on DOCSIS 3.1 vs. FTTH (ii)

“Should operators deploy FTTH (fiber-to-the-home), DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) 3.1 or is there another answer?”



  DOCSIS 3.1 vs. FTTH? Very hot discussions about this topic in linkedin SNS website. FOT blog now sharing those very professional ideas and discussions as following:

  Hans: Copper being cable and DSL are still going strong.
  The comments that Coax would not be able to provide enough bandwidth or technical to complex are besides the truth.
  When using fiber deep + segmentation there’s plenty of bandwidth. Yes, even in the upstream. implementation is by ” Time to Market “
  What about the technical complexity?
  When Cable operators terminate their analog channels, Docsis ( IP ) only transport, the HFC network is extremely simplified. FTTH has it’s OLT , Coax will have it’s CLT . A clear and clean demarcation point, disconnecting the home network from the HFC plant. That will reduce OPEX big time.
  I do believe that eventually copper will disappear but that convergence will be driven by other, non technical parameters.
  Let’s not forget that the network is a transport mechanism.
  The rules are simple Transport = cost. Services = Revenue.
  Depending on TCO and ROI things will move…… or not.

  Greg: Coax has lots of legs left. However, once cable executives realized the value of the Virtual Access Network (e.g., CORD, XOS and ONOS) they will stop buying existing equipment.

  Hans: @Greg, Perhaps I’m wrong but for me CORD, XOS etc are not layer 1 but a higher OSI layer. Therefore they could run over any data network ( ignore efficiency for the moment) In other words to get to the point you brought up you still need to have that transport network

  Greg: @hans CORD creates the vOLT. Why can’t it create a vCMTS?

  Dan: Restoration is a serious but often overlooked concern. One advantage of PON over pt-to-pt is that it takes fewer fiber strands to serve an area. Which means smaller cables with less prep time and fewer splices during restoration. Also, some plug-and-play systems allow temporaries or replacement with pre-terminated cables, at the cost of additional connector losses.

  Dan: CableLabs is doing virtualization projects for cable. In fact, they and Cisco just announced an open source remote PHY device. Remote MAC/PHY or remote MAC are functionally similar to vOLT line cards and could reasonably support a vCCAP. I understand that they’re in the OpenDaylight ecosystem rather than the ON.LAB/ONOS/XOS ecosystem.

  Anurag: FTTH is the end goal. It is just timing the investment to get there. There are several challenges even in buildings, which is the top FTTH segment globally for residential and business. Some have copper that can be leveraged while others it makes sense to replace with fiber. Overall, it will still create demand for fiber to the building.
  A few cable companies have already started a shift to fiber in greenfield builds.

  Willem: To the end user the infrastructure is irrelevant, if there is a choice to be made, it will still be made on the service provider’s offer and whether that matches customer demand and price/value.
  In most instances where there is a choice TCO for HFC is more profitable due to the decades of write off made in the past. As for maintenance and upgrading the FTTH is at a slight advantage but not enough to tip the scale…
  Only if future customer demand hits the technical limits of HFC you will see infrastructure driven customer migration from HFC to FTTH until then migration is only driven by Service Providers performance.
  A infrastructure should never be a goal, meeting customer demand should always be.

  Dan: The cable companies want to continue leveraging their legacy networks and stand firmly behind DOCSIS and the ability of COAX to provide the same service as fiber. Sure they can provide the service (for now) but in the end they will pay twice. Maintenance will be an ongoing concern and gobble up everything until there will be no choice and fiber will be a must. They will pay dearly then to make the conversion which might come too late. With fiber the possibilities appear endless. We should not be surprised when we see the service being offered increase exponentially in a very short period of time.

  Willem: We are talking HFC so that is Fiber with the last leg being COAX to a few hundred end users per Fiber handover point.
  Why would maintenance be more expensive on that last leg?
  Investing Fiber in the last leg would cost $1400 per enduser in densely populated cities and more in urban or rular areas. Coax saves around $1000.. what annual profit do you think is made per enduser? Keep in mind enduser won’t pay more for the fact their traffic runs over fiber if it’s at the same speed.

  Dan: Exactly, live with your justifications and don’t complain when new fiber services and consumer demand leave that last leg in the dust and the HFC network can no longer compete with the evolved bandwidths and speeds. I suspect that time will come much quicker than we expect. Do not underestimate the cost of maintaining that last leg and the negative impact it has on the subscribers experience, it is not nearly as stable as you wish it to be. Then go ahead and spend your $1400 per prem, not to mention the inevitable HE upgrades and hope your customer is willing to wait around while you engineer the new “last leg” network, obtain the required permissions, and construct and roll out the service, tasks that cannot be completed in less than six months in the very best cases…yes, I fear the cable companies will suffer dearly for their commitment to their origins.

  Willem: In my first comment I stated that the end user decides on services at the right price and not on layer one infrastructure type, I see HFC doing 200/20 Mbps for €20.- a month and the Cable companies is showing a nice profit at the end of the year. No commercial need to invest in FTTH as customer demand for higher speeds than 200/20 is marginal. Most urban areas in the Netherlands have both FTTH and HFC handover points in each premises. So customer has a choice to use one or the other.
  I don’t need to justify anything or complain about who leaves who in the dust.
  The Problem with FTTH is economics and in essence the demand for the extra performance is not there right now when you look at bandwidth usage.
  I’ve been part of HFC rollouts in the mid 90th and FTTH rollouts 10 years later as a program manager. Yes of course Fiber is the superior infrastructure that is a ‘no brainer’ but it’s the customer demand that decides what goes… and not our personal preferences.
  Be aware that Cable companies run lot’s of fiber in their core and will swap last leg coax for glass when the markets dictates it… but that will be a lot later than you think.
  In short the question is do you know any FTTH service provider that has a commercially viable customer demand for bandwidths above the DOCSIS 3.1 average….?
  If the answer is no… then there is no businesscase at this moment.
  But don’t worry, I’m sure someday there will be.

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