Bright House: Urge to Converge

Bright House Networks is nearly done
deploying about 120 of Cisco Systems’ high-capacity
ASR 9000 Series Aggregation Services Routers across
most of its footprint.

That will cap the MSO’s year-and-a-half-long project to
consolidate video, voice and data traffic onto a single Ethernet
network — which also gives it more breathing room
to roll out new services.

The MSO has replaced most
of the older Cisco 6500 and 7600
routers in its edge hubs and expects
to finish the upgrade to the
ASR 9000s in 110 edge hubs in Orlando
and Tampa, Fla., in May.


The new routers are each provisioned
with 10 Gigabit Ethernet
line cards, which can be
upgraded to 100 GigE down
the road, Bright House senior
vice president of network engineering
and operations Craig
Cowden said.

“We literally could not have
done the type of aggressive service
convergence we have done
on our legacy platforms,” he said.
“We felt we needed a really robust
networking platform.”

The ASR 9000s provide a whopping 6.4 Terabits per second
in a single half-rack chassis, which, according to Cisco,
is at least six times the capacity of previous-generation
edge routers.

The converged network architecture eliminates Bright
House’s three previously physically separate networks for
video, data and voice, and commercial services. That has
reduced the number of individual routers per hub from
six to two.

The setup also will increase the resilience of the network,
Cowden said. Primarily, that’s because the MSO is
putting no more than 40% of its traffic through any single
ASR 9000, so that if one router happened to go down the
second one in the hub can pick up the entire load without

The edge routers connect over a fiber-optic network
powered by Fujitsu Network Communications’ Flashwave
9500 passive optical-networking platform, feeding into a
Cisco CRS-1 core router, which
Bright House is in the process of
converting to the higher-capacity
CRS-3. Bright House deployed
ASR 9000s in Birmingham, Ala.,
Bakersfield, Calif., and Indianapolis,
but in some markets redeployed
the 6500 or 7600 routers.

In Florida, the ASR 9000s will
be in about half of Bright House’s
hubs. The MSO deployed edge
routers from another vendor,
which Cowden declined to identify,
from the fourth quarter of
2009 through last fall. “When
we did the original vendor assessment,
we felt they had some
feature capabilities that were in
front of others,” he explained.
“But now we believe the ASR
9000 has more.”

The higher-capacity edge routers
will give Bright House additional
headroom to introduce higher-speed DOCSIS 3.0
services in the future. Currently it operates DOCSIS 3.0,
using a combination of Cisco and Arris cable modem termination
systems, with four bonded channels down and
four upstream. That would allow Bright House to deliver
up to 160 Megabits per second downstream and 32 Mbps
upstream; today, the MSO’s top speeds are 40 down and 5
up for residential and 50 by 5 for business.


On the video side, the converged network will better
equip Bright House to deliver the “Start Over” and “Look
Back” video-on-demand services, which are “bandwidth
hogs,” Cowden noted.

The operator’s switched digital-video system, delivered
by BigBand Networks equipment and edge QAMs, also
will benefit from the increased capacity. Bright House delivers
hundreds of channels via switched digital, which in
order to conserve bandwidth does not deliver a channel to
a service group unless a customer tunes to it.

“Spectrum management is something we definitely
spend a lot of time on,” Cowden said.


Benefits of Bright House’s converged

Simplicity: Each hub will have just two
routers, versus six before for separate
video, data and voice, and commercial

Resilience: Each Ethernet router is
provisioned to carry no more than 40%
of a hub’s traffic, so the second can
handle the whole load.

New routers have 10 Gigabit
Ethernet line cards, upgradable to
100 GigE.

SOURCE:Multichannel News research