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CCAP Looks To Relieve Increased Internet Video Usage

New York — In an effort to contain costs and manage an ever-increasing amount of bandwidth needed for their growing broadband services, and after a lengthy trial period that began in 2012, multichannel cable TV operators are now realistically deploying an industry standardized specification called Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP). CCAP is the result of a joint initiative of MSOs, CableLabs and cable manufacturers that meets those bandwidth challenges and lays the groundwork for establishing a future all-IP delivery network.

CCAP combines edge quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) technology used for digital video services with cable modem termination system (CMTS) technology used for Internet delivery and combines them into a single device inside a cable headend. This results in much more efficient digital service management (e.g., greater density per port) and a reduced requirement for hardware equipment space and electrical power.

Deployments have already begun. Late last year, Time Warner Cable, the second largest cable TV operator in the U.S. began deploying CCAP equipment to support the growing demand for its data services. Also, in June of 2013 Comcast Corp., the country’s largest cable MSO, commercially deployed a E6000 Converged Edged Router from Arris Enterprises that fully supports the CCAP protocol.

The concept behind CCAP is clear. For years, cable has used separate video and data delivery paths that require racks of separate headend equipment. If cable is going to integrate its services into converged offerings for its customers, it must first simplify and tightly integrate its own technology platforms.

According to a new report by entitled “CCAP’s Coming to the Rescue,” the current state of disarray in bandwidth management situation is limiting cable Internet profits. Indeed, during an industry conference, a Mediacom Communications executive said Netflix alone accounts for 40 percent of the company’s broadband bandwidth usage. They need more bandwidth. Other cable companies have reported similar bandwidth constraints due to popular Internet-based services. As these operators begin to offer more and faster access to the Internet, the problem will only get worse before it gets better (with compression).

CCAP-compatible products began to hit the market in 2012. San Jose, Calif.-based Harmonic launching its CCAP solution and optical transmitters at the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo that year. The solution offers increased density and fiber bandwidth while minimizing expenses, power usage, and space requirements at cable facilities. This year the company has announced NSG Exo, a cost-effective cable edge device for enabling the deployment of a Distributed Access Architecture (DAA) utilizing coax networks. NSG Exo is a “distributed CCAP system” that allows service providers to move their RF delivery requirements out of the headend or hub and deeper into the network, simplifying network design and operation to resolve power and space constraints, provide service flexibility, and lower capital and operational expenses.

Nimrod Ben-Natan, senior vice president and general manager of the Edge and Access business unit at Harmonic, said, “The key is a flexible platform that can cost-effectively scale to meet operators’ diverse needs, today and in the future.”

Other players in the CCAP space include Arris Enterprises, Cisco Systems and CommScope.