Advertisement

As the global bandwidth demand continues its rapid growth, the cable industry is in a key position to deliver significant value for its customers. Massive network upgrades and deployments are ongoing in order to meet the future demands for higher broadband speeds and seamless services. However, as the complexity of network devices is growing alongside the investments, so is the amount of power the networks consume. New solutions are needed to help operators manage the power and performance growth in ways that are beneficial to business, customers and the environment.

The challenge is recognized throughout the industry and initiatives, such as the SCTE•ISBE Energy 2020 program, have been launched to call out for power-saving innovations. Teleste’s answer to the quest comes from intelligence: the way we see it, significant improvements in network operation, management and power consumption can be achieved by making nodes and amplifiers intelligent and capable of adapting to external changes.

In addition to being state-of-the-art HFC and Remote PHY devices, intelligent nodes and amplifiers act as 24/7 probes in the cable television network. Their traditional plug-in modules are replaced with electrical controls and reinforced by intelligent software that make the devices self-adjustable, auto-configurable and remotely controllable. The devices constantly measure the quality of the signal that goes through them, produce information about their own status and even self-adjust according to performance targets set by the operator. They also allow operators to get a precise view of the network status and make it possible to perform several maintenance tasks without visiting the sites.

These functionalities can be turned into considerable business benefits in many ways. Operators can utilize the technology to locate and fix network problems with shorter response times and less truck rolls. The improved service uptime and increased reliability result in a reduced number of tickets and calls in customer service, and all seasonal maintenance visits can be avoided due to automatic compensation for the effects caused by external changes, such as fluctuating outdoor temperature. In addition, the Intelligent Network devices offer significant savings in energy consumption [1].

Adaptive powering reduces energy consumption

Teleste has been investigating network power consumption for quite some time, especially in order to find out how it correlates with performance and what the optimum level of power consumption in different scenarios is. Although broadband nodes and amplifiers are designed and operated to fulfil their specifications at the full 1.2 GHz load, this scenario is rare in real networks. When the maximum load does not exist, the idea is to use a lower bias current in amplifier modules, which then leads to lower power consumption and causes no sacrifices in the quality of services.

The three practical outcomes [2] of the idea are inbuilt in the intelligent nodes and amplifiers, which introduce several innovations for adjusting bias current according to the actual load in use.

1. Remotely adjusted performance levels

CATV network equipment (optical nodes and amplifier stations) can have two or more pre-defined power save modes which can be remotely controlled via the simple extension of the current unidirectional communication method. This is used to remotely command ingress switches in the amplifier station (Return Ingress Switch [RIS]). Initially, RIS was developed to enable the cost-efficient unidirectional remote management of ingress switches. However, RIS software can be further enhanced with minor modifications to also support the remote management of the power save modes in the amplifier module. RIS enables the changing of the power save mode (e.g. within one hub area) with the click of a button in the back office. Power save modes are used to set the optimal amplifier bias current based on the total RF load.

2. Autonomous performance adjustment

CATV network equipment can have a built-in RF power measuring function, which can be used to measure the total downstream RF load. The amplifier module’s power consumption is adjusted to be optimal based on the total RF load. This method is a ‘stand-alone’ automatic function, and hence no remote or local access is needed in order to make adjustments dynamically.

3. Load-based performance adjustment

The Distributed Access Architecture node is aware of the RF load used in the network because it generates digital TV and DOCSIS channels. This information can be used to set the right amplifier bias current, leading to optimal power consumption. This method is autonomous and hence no remote or local access is needed. In the case of RF overlay deployment, an additional module to measure the broadcast TV part would be beneficial as such modules are available off-the-shelf. While load-based performance adjustment does not require the implementation of complex digital pre-distortion (DPD), utilizing it could introduce further power savings.

Measuring the monetary and environmental benefits

Adaptive powering can save up to 30% of the power consumed by amplifier modules. Amplifier modules, on the other hand, consume 70% of all the power in outside plants. Taking both figures into account leads to a reduction in the network power consumption of up to 20% [2]. The energy saving alone makes the monetary and environmental impact of Intelligent Networks significant, and the benefits are further reinforced by the outright implementation of the intelligent technology.

For example, think of a service break at the outside plant. Typically, network problems are difficult to locate: to fix an issue, operators need to go through complex network diagrams showing where each element is installed – or, in the worst case, technicians need to locate the root cause of the problem in the field, rolling trucks from one device to another. This makes fixing service issues slow, leads to higher repair costs and, what is more, takes customers onto a path that can potentially lead to churn [3].

Intelligent Network devices, on the other hand, can be used to find out where the disturbances enter the network and what their impact areas are, and the management software can show the exact location on a map. Experience from the field show that up to 60% of truck rolls can be avoided by knowing precisely where to go to fix a problem [2], and the maintenance process can be further streamlined by taking advantage of the remote management and automatic features provided by the technology. The monetary benefits [1] are substantial in terms of working hours, customer loyalty and even the price of petrol, and the news is good for the environment as well, as avoiding truck rolls reduces the CO2 emission footprint.

Recently, the brightest minds of the cable industry have been challenged to drive new thinking in energy consumption and management. We are pleased to be a part of the process, and from our experiences, we can say that meeting the consumers’ increasing demands for more bandwidth and seamless connectivity can indeed go hand in hand with saving money, energy and nature. The match may not be perfect yet, and there is still room for improvement throughout the industry, but we believe the right track is there and we are firmly on it.

 

Teleste Intercept offers a wide range of intelligent optical nodes and amplifiers, and software for Intelligent Network management. We also have long-term experience in network architectures and their design, planning, installation and maintenance. If you wish to discuss more about our solutions and their benefits, please contact sales@telesteintercept.com. You can also visit www.telesteintercept.com for more information.

 

About the Author

Hanno Narjus, CEO of Teleste Intercept, Global Head of Network Products for Teleste

Hanno Narjus has more than 30 years’ experience in the ICT sector, including mobile communications, fixed broadband and cable networks. Currently, Mr. Narjus is the CEO of Teleste Intercept and in charge of the global Network Products business for the Teleste Corporation. He is also a member of Teleste’s management team. Before this, Mr. Narjus held several managerial positions in the telecommunications industry. In addition, he has earned a Master’s degree in economics from the University of Tampere in Finland.

 

References:

1. Purmonen, Arttu (2017). Intelligent Tools to Increase Uptime in the HFC Plant (whitepaper of the Teleste Corporation).
2. Teleste Corporation (2018). Make Sense: Solution description: https://www.adaptivepowerchallenge.com/en/solutions/make-sense/ (accessed September 2018).
3. Purmonen, Arttu (2017). Customer Pre-churn Analysis of the Cable Television Industry (whitepaper of the Teleste Corporation).

Advertisement
Advertisement