At this years SCTE EXPO equipment and software venders were showing they knew they need to keep an eye to the future. Already featured (Rohde & Schwarz, VeEX, Cisco and Nimble-This) JDSU showed a nifty next gen spectrum analyzer. Now it's not available to ship until Q2 2014 but it's still worth a look.
JDSU states it's "the industry’s first converged digital spectrum video analyzer and noise-troubleshooting platform designed for the challenges of the converged cable access platform (CCAP) and remote PHY evolution".
It has upstream and downstream test modes and a tablet user interface and measurement engine which should simplify operation and remote test capabilities. The tablet (iPad) can be connected to the VSE-1100 measurement engine via USB, Bluetooth, WiFi or 3G/4G if enabled in the iPad. (An Android version is in discussion for the second version but there is no commitment to an Android system at the time). The distance is approximately 150’ indoors and 300’ outside. So should be plenty of range for a tech to leave the VSE-1100 on the strand hook and operate it from an iPad from the truck.
Additionally, the VSE-1100 can be connected via Ethernet or the internal cable modem. This us good since it allows the tech to connect the tablet via a WiFi access point to a VSE-1100 located remotely on the cable plant, customer premise or Headend/Hubsite.
The analyzer is built on new technology. It leverages the current JDSU's PathTrak functionality, like MacTrak without getting a monitoring system. Since a PathTrak system can be pricey this is good. The analyzer seems like it would be ideal for general headend (and field) measurements such as QAM downstream and upstream demod, including burst demod through MacTrak. Additionally, it has some much needed ability to capture impulse noise in the upstream, which was previously only done by very expensive vector signal analyzers.
As you see by the picture above, this analyzer has a big cool factor on the number of measurements that can be taken. I do like the interface with the iPad. It makes for a very nice user interface and ease of use for controls. Plus you can walk around or sit in a comfortable position with the iPad instead of being huddled over an analyzer in a noisy room.
Burst noise detection is a really big value. Especially as we expand the utilization of the upstream for DOCSIS 3.0 channel bonding and ultimately DOCSIS 3.1. Seeing impulse noise (i.e. transient noise) is absolutely a must in headend-based test equipment. Our main option to see impulse noise has been vector signal analyzers priced at $60k-$80k. So JDSU should price this analyzer low so that we see a lot of them in the field.
Finally, I'm hoping that JDSU provides a nice database component to this. It's not a replacement for PathTrak, but since its built on the RPM3000 card they should be able to provide a lot of PathTrak monitoring functionality to add extra value to this analyzer.
I see a lot of value in this analyzer for operators. Both those that are already PathTrak entrenched as well as those operators who have not been able to afford a PathTrak system.