Get Ready – DAA’s Going to Hit a Network Near You Soon!

October 24, 2017

By Jon Baldry
Director, Metro Marketing


Last week was a rather hectic one in Denver, Colorado, with over 10,000 cable industry professionals descending on the city for the annual Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers® (SCTE) Cable-Tec Expo conference and exhibition. It was a busy week for the Infinera team, with lots of engagement with existing and prospective customers in the Infinera Express mobile demo lab on the show floor, multiple speaking slots in the conference and a new product launch – more on that later.

The major topic of discussion within the Infinera Express was the cable industry’s impending transition to the Distributed Access Architecture (DAA) and its impact on all aspects of the optical network. DAA will cause a rethink in all areas of cable multiple service operators’ (MSOs) optical networks, from the new “fiber-deep” access networks required to support the rollout of Remote PHY devices to the need for enormous bandwidth scalability throughout these networks.

Pre-DAA – Typical Cable MSO Access Network
Figure 1: Pre-DAA – Typical Cable MSO Access Network

Remote PHY consists of shifting, or distributing, the physical layer (or PHY) of traditional, dense cable head-end cable modem termination systems (CMTS) to the fiber nodes in the access network, as shown in Figures 1 and 2.  Remote PHY appears to be the early DAA approach of choice for cable operators, due largely to its relative ease of deployment. Some operators are considering similar approaches such as Remote MAC/PHY, which also moves the media access control (MAC) function into the access network.

Post-DAA – Typical Cable MSO Remote-PHY Access Network
Figure 2: Post-DAA – Typical Cable MSO Remote-PHY Access Network

Significantly, DAA brings an order of magnitude increase in the number of end points for the underlying dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM)-based aggregation network, with an associated increase in bandwidth in all parts of the optical network. In most cases, the additional networking hardware needed to support this migration must fit into the existing secondary hub real estate, which is often already space and power constrained. To support cable MSOs as they migrate to DAA, optical vendors need to:

  1. Focus on density and power consumption in all areas of the network
  2. Increase backhaul capacity in the metro network to 100 gigabits per second (100G) DWDM
  3. Add 10G to 100G packet-optical aggregation to the secondary hub to optimize 100G backhaul wavelengths
  4. Simplify the installation of DWDM access points and ongoing maintenance to deal with the 10-fold increase

Infinera supports this application with the recently released XT-3300 for high-capacity backhaul with 1.2 terabits per second (1.2T) of DWDM capacity in a compact 1 rack unit (1RU) form factor, as well as the XTM II for high-capacity packet-optical aggregation. These products address points one, two and three on the list above. At SCTE last week, we launched Auto-Lambda to address the fourth point – simplification of the access network.

Auto-Lambda is a new technology to support autotuneable 10G DWDM for high-volume access applications such as DAA in cable networks and 4G/5G fronthaul/backhaul in mobile and business Ethernet services. Autotuneability technology is a key enabler for these next-generation access networks, as it greatly speeds up and simplifies the deployment of the access network, while also reducing spares holding costs and management complexity.

At SCTE, Auto-Lambda was one of four DAA aggregation and transport demonstrations that the team delivered to interested parties. This set of demonstrations covered all aspects of DAA aggregation and transport, from autotuneable optics in the RPD, to 10G to 100G aggregation by the XTM II, to sliceable 1.2T transport with the XT-3300. These were complemented with a demonstration of software-defined networking (SDN) control of the network.

The Auto-Lambda demonstration highlighted two use cases that together provide coverage for a wide range of deployment scenarios. The first scenario uses new bidirectional autotuneable small form factor pluggable (SFP+) optics in conjunction with developments to Infinera’s XTM Series metro wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) platform. This use case supports single fiber working applications of up to 10G over distances of up to 20 kilometers (km). The second scenario uses Infinera techniques to provide the same autotuneability benefits over single or dual fibers and longer distances. The techniques used in the second approach support single-ended operation with autotuneable optics in the customer premises equipment and conventional optics in the aggregation node. This enables future capabilities, such as the deployment of Infinera’s photonic integrated circuit technology in conjunction with Auto-Lambda optics to further optimize access networks.

Auto-Lambda is based on the G.Metro standard and builds on Infinera’s many years of experience in automating access networks and participation in this standardization activity. Infinera was one of the very small number of companies that brought the previous generation of WDM-PON (passive optical networks) technology to market for 1G applications. Auto-Lambda technology addresses many operators’ requirements of 10G speeds and distances of up to 80 km for WDM-PON networks.

One key highlight of the Auto-Lambda technology that was clearly shown at SCTE is the removal of the operational need to recognize the specific wavelengths required in each location of the network. This means they avoid the need to react by either selecting the correct fixed optics component or tuning the conventional tuneable optics component to the required wavelength via a management system. As the technology supports the standard International Telecommunication Union (ITU)-defined C-Band DWDM grid, the new autotuneable technology supports operation over existing DWDM filters and previously deployed DWDM networks, making it ideal for network upgrades.

A hectic but successful SCTE week is over, and the DAA discussion continues at a rapid pace. DAA is coming to a network near you very soon, and Infinera is well placed to support cable MSOs as they build the next-generation aggregation and transport networks that they need to enable this migration. Auto-Lambda is an exciting new technology that will support DAA and many other access applications.

For more information, contact us.

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