Arris Touts Progress On DOCSIS 3.1, RFoG

Arris will use this week’s Cable-Tec Expo in Denver to show off features and new wares aimed at helping MSOs get more pop out of their existing hybrid fiber coax networks and extend services to homes using fiber-only architectures.

On the HFC side, Arris said it will demonstrate a DOCSIS 3.1-facing downstream that runs on its flagship E6000 cable modem termination system (CMTS) and utilizes orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM), a modulation scheme that is part of the new CableLabs specs. The E6000 is starting out as a high-density CMTS, but will evolve to become a fully-integrated Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) that also builds in the edge QAM function.

According to Todd Kessler, vice president of CMTS/CCAP product management at Arris, the OFDM downstream demo on the E6000 will be run in tandem with new cable modem test boards from two DOCSIS chipmakers – Intel and STMicroelectronics -- and a signal analyzer from Keysight.

Part of the demo, Kessler said, is to show how existing blades on the E6000 can be upgraded to support D3.1-based technology via a firmware upgrade. This is possible, he said, because the E6000 is equipped with customizable field-programmable gate array (FPGA) silicon. 

While that demo is about DOCSIS 3.1, a multi-gigabit platform that’s designed to run on HFC, a new Arris product, called AgileMax, takes aim at RF over Glass (RFoG), a standard that lets cable operators deliver RF-based services , such as video, to the home over fiber but uses the MSO’s legacy backoffice and provisioning systems.

Operators have historically used RFoG in greenfields and for plant extensions in rural areas, with some eyeing it as a migration point toward PON-based FTTP networks. However, scaled rollouts of RFoG have been hindered by the presence of Optical Beat Interference (OBI), which impairs performance when multiple modems try to communicate over the same fiber at the same time. Arris holds that the advent of DOCSIS 3.1 will only exacerbate the issue.

Arris said AgileMax, a product that sits where a fiber splitter would reside on the network (the hub, the basement of a multiple dwelling unit, fiber cabinet or node, etc.), mitigates OBI by supporting split ratios and data rates that have previously been unachievable.

Arris, which views current OBI-inhibitors as temporary and operationally complex, expects trials of AgileMax to start in the fourth quarter of 2014, with full rollouts anticipated next year, according to Ray Bontempi, Arris’s vice president of product management.