Cox’s Finkelstein: DOCSIS 3.1 upstream bandwidth issue an ‘iceberg’

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Cox Communications’ network architecture chief, Jeff Finkelstein, called on the industry to deploy as much fiber as it can.

As usage of DOCSIS 3.1 increases, upstream bandwidth will become significantly constrained, said Cox Communications’ network architecture chief, Jeff Finkelstein, who called the limitation an “iceberg” for the cable industry. 

Speaking at Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies in Denver, an event produced and covered by Light Reading, Finkelstein called on the industry to deploy as much fiber as it can, despite the presentations by some DOCSIS 3.1 backers, who suggest advanced technologies could be used to extend the utility of copper cables as far out as 2040.

"As you are pulling this fiber, this is the opportunity to build the network of the future—and our natural tendency, particularly of the outside plant folks, is to just over-lash yourself and pull it down and when you need to, you'll pull it off the strand and connect it into a tap," Finkelstein said,

"As we go through the planning, what are the things we are going to do that we are not going to regret doing or if we are going to regret it, make it a choice,” Finkelstein added. 

RELATED: Arris CTO Cloonan: DOCSIS 3.1 utility can be stretched out as far as 2040 with extended spectrum

In the near term, Finkelstein said, operators can mitigate constraints in upstream bandwidth by moving from 1K-QAM to 4K-QAM. But operators will still eventually have to split their 500-home nodes into smaller lentils, while pushing fiber deeper into their networks.

"One of the things you need to give serious consideration to when you do these splits,” he said. “Do you have a PON strategy or an FTTH strategy? EPON, GPON, Ethernet, wavelengths, whatever you want it to be?"

With historical growth rates of broadband usage suggesting that operators will need to consistently deliver 10 Gbps by 2026, Finkelstein also said that cable operators need to have a reality check on just what coax can do. 

"Coax has a long life and a long useful life but how do we optimize each and every spend we have an prepare ourselves for the next step?" he added. 

As Light Reading reported, Finkelstein noted Cox's decision to deploy switched digital video and a one gigahertz plant. 

"Those were spends we never ended up regretting. Some of it [was] because of some very smart folks -- we are standing on the shoulders of giants in the cable industry but now it's our turn to prepare it for the next step for the people that will be standing on our shoulders to keep it going and have all the capacity our customers will need."