Daniel Howard, CTO of the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) presented at this years CCTA on "HFC Readiness for DOCSIS 3.1". Daniel had a presentation that couldn't be beet and held the attention of the audience. Key topics he covered were the rapid growth of Internet traffic, cable operator's desire to extend the life of coax cable at least another 20 years, PNM and the realization that 4096-QAM is a reality in the cable plant. How do we know? Successful trials are already being conducted today in at least one typical system in Germany by one of my colleges, Dr. Alexander Adams, who heads up Adams Consult GmbH & Co. KG based in Germany. Daniel also covered the details about low-density parity check (LDPC), which is the replacement for Reed-Solomon error correction that makes 4096-QAM a reality, in addition to the orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM). There was a lot of tech covered in his presentation.
One of the key items he discussed that I believe is critical to the cable industry is PNM. This is also known as Proactive Network Maintenance and has been a huge topic for CableLabs, Comcast and a number of major MSOs for sometime now that want to reduce costs, improve operational efficiency and find impairments before the impact subscribers. I've covered PNM in prior articles, but its great to hear Daniel talking about how key elements of PNM are making it into SCTE training programs. PNM is moving from something obscure to mainstream technology that is changing the industry.
Why is the SCTE interested in PNM? Daniel discussed this in detail. PNM is an extremely power technology. It lets cable operators identify different types of impairments and pinpoint their location with unprecedented accuracy - hence why I keep saying it is such a game changer in the industry. However we are still on a learning curve with the technology and there is a lot of user training that is required with it. So two things are required. The first is training and the second is developing a library of known impairments. The SCTE is a great partner to work with cable operators and vendors of PNM solutions such as Nimble This to make sure that he industry has the latest and greatest training available for the best tech out there.
To wrap things up, I highly recommend that you keep an eye on Daniels next DOCSIS 3.1 presentation if you have not seen it before, it is quite informative.
As Daniel stressed many times, if you are not already looking at PNM as a way to maintain your cable plant now is the time. The technology is ready and it will change the way you perform plant maintenance. Every cable modem in your network is instantly transformed into a test device in addition to your CMTS. Nimble This has a couple of example videos to give you a hint of what can be done.
Also announced at the CCTA show was the partner ship between Nimble This and ZCorum. See related article.