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Forecast Gets a Fix on Next-Gen Cable Network Tech Spending

Cable operator spending on two key network-facing initiatives – distributed access architectures (DAA) and new “virtual” converged cable access platform (vCCAP) implementations – is poised to ramp up over the next five years, according to a new forecast from Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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Amid MSO plans to move ahead with multi-year transitions to next-gen technologies, Kagan sees spending on remote PHY and remote MACPHY optical nodes – elements that move important electronics and functions of traditionally centralized CCAPs toward the edge of the network – jumping from $60.9 million this year to $544.7 million in 2019 and $969.2 million in 2022.

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Kagan is also forecasting that virtual CCAP/CMTS revenue will climb from $20.5 million in 2018 to $536.3 million in 2022, anticipating that operators in North America and Western Europe will lead the way initially in virtualizing a “small percentage of their systems.”

The moves toward DAA and software-driven vCCAPs are entering play as MSOs strive to add capacity to their networks while also reducing the headend/hub space, cooling and powering requirements that come with traditional, centralized, chassis-based CCAP products.

And while the amount of spend that will go toward the access network won’t rise a huge amount even as more of that money goes toward DAA and virtual CCAP deployments (with a good portion of going to market-leading, incumbent CCAP suppliers), those initiatives are likewise expected to open up opportunities for others that are trying to elbow their way in.

“It’s clear that there will be opportunities for those new suppliers,” Jeff Heynen, consulting director at SNL Kagan, said.

Of recent note, Sweden’s ComHem is starting to deploy a centralized virtual CCAP approach in partnership with Harmonic and its “CableOS” platform, and WideOpenWest is pushing ahead on a DAA project with Nokia.

RELATED: Harmonic IDs a Real Deployment for Its Virtual CCAP

Heynen said getting a handle on space constraints will likely be the biggest initial driver for vCCAP deployments, noting that some MSOs are “feeling the pinch” in their headend and hub sites as they continue to need to tack on capacity.

However, he stressed in his study that even MSOs that are early to the game with virtual CCAP deployments will be operating co-existing virtual and non-virtual CCAPs for a number of years.