In the second of five reports, Adrian Pennington looks at how Cable Congress 2018 is examining the emerging role of blockchain; the operator’s place in building smart cities; and the impact of the macro trend toward software defined networks.
Networks are evolving, industry dynamics are evolving, and new technological innovations are changing the way cable operators do business. The future-facing agenda at Cable Congress 2018 reflects an industry moving way beyond conversations about content and carriage. Infrastructure investment, content curation, innovation, consumer trends, big data and analytics, smart homes, competitiveness, IoT – the event and the industry encapsulates all these and more.
The scope of opportunity assessed and explored at Cable Congress is perhaps best segmented into four broad areas of innovation. These include network Optimisation, in which M2M and AI enable greater efficiency together with a renewed focus on opportunities in the B2B market. Content has become a strategic essential, as cable operators come under pressure from over-the-top (OTT) video providers, forcing them to rethink their services and network architectures. Underpinning the ability to capitalise on the IoT and innovating in edge applications like autonomous vehicles, are the tremendous strides made in Connectivity, notably the recent advances made in Full Duplex DOCSIS.
Then there are intriguing developments in blockchain, with potential to deliver supply chain cost reduction, opportunities to grow the business in smart city applications; and in virtualized network functions that allow networks to be agile to respond automatically to the needs of the traffic and services running over it. These developments might be bracketed as Evolution and this is where this preview of Cable Congress will start.
SDN/NFV: What's Next for Cable?
The rise of software-driven, cloud-based technology in the data centre world has changed expectations for all types of network connectivity, leading to the development of network functions virtualization (NFV). Specifically, investment has concentrated on how virtual functions in the access network, the last mile, can be connected effectively back to a broader ecosystem of software-driven network management and orchestration systems.
CableLabs has led development in association with the wider telecom industry, and through the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), because the convergence of efforts will help cable operators take advantage of economies of scale and, even more importantly, make it possible for the cable industry to move more quickly toward its own dynamic and automated networks.
As CableLabs Principal Architect, Network Technologies Don Clarke points out, software license management in the telecommunications environment is about to become an order of magnitude more complex as NFV emerges from the shadows to become the technology of choice for future telecommunications network infrastructures.