Gainspeed’s Virtual CCAP Architecture

Gainspeed’s Virtual CCAP architecture was built to address the huge increase in cable network capacity required by the radical shift in traffic from QAM video to IP Video (see The Cable Infrastructure Challenge). Virtual CCAP tackles this challenge by “virtualizing” CCAP – centralizing management and control in the data center and distributing processing to the edge of the network.

The Virtual CCAP architecture migrates today’s headend from RF to digital and enables operators to deploy an all-IP, all-Ethernet system from the headend to the node. By completely digitizing the hub, Virtual CCAP does away with the physical CCAP/CMTS altogether.

Virtual CCAP provides the most scalable, cost-effective and flexible solution, and it can be tailored to each operator’s distinct needs and IP strategy.

But what exactly is Virtual CCAP?


Gainspeed’s Virtual CCAP is an innovative architecture built on an existing operational paradigm. It delivers all the features and functions of CCAP:

  • It makes use of the existing coax network and customer premise equipment.
  • It is fully compliant with the CCAP OSSI and supports all the same MIBS.
  • It enables zero-touch integration into the existing OSS/BSS.

Virtual CCAP also delivers the benefits of CCAP – savings in space, power, and cost – but to a much greater extent and with a lower capital and operational investment.




Gainspeed’s Virtual CCAP distributes the PHY to the fiber node, and distributes and virtualizes the DOCSIS MAC to the fiber node, introducing the industry’s first “Full Spectrum DOCSIS” capability.

Pushing DOCSIS and the physical layer to the node enables digital combining, eliminates the physical CCAP, replaces analog optics with 10 Gbps Ethernet and converts analog fiber nodes into digital, IP-enabled devices – Ethernet nodes – deep in the cable operator’s access network. Gainspeed’s distributed architecture enables “Full Spectrum DOCSIS” to every Ethernet node and every service group.

Deploying IP/Ethernet to the “neighborhood” confines RF between the Ethernet node and customer, extending fiber transmission distance, expanding fiber capacity and improving RF performance to the customer. As a result, the architecture reduces customer calls and truck rolls, and sets up the network for DOCSIS 3.1.


Distributing both the MAC and PHY is an important step, but separating functions is the essence of virtualization. Gainspeed’s Virtual CCAP leverages Software-Defined Networking (SDN) techniques to disaggregate the CCAP and break up the monolithic headend. This approach literally eliminates the CMTS as a physical box and reorganizes the network at a functional level. The cable control plane is centralized to a controller that can reside in the cloud, Layer 3 IP/MPLS functions are moved to the headend’s existing edge routers, and, as noted above, access functionality (DOCSIS and PHY) is handled by the Ethernet node.

The “virtual” approach delivers a number of significant benefits:

  • It eliminates the physical CMTS/CCAP and its associated cost, power and space.
  • It does not impact the existing EQAM-based video infrastructure, including the existing video back-office integration – no need to ‘re-architect’ the existing video BSS/OSS to the CCAP OSSI model.
  • It delivers Ethernet to the node on Day 1. No analog/RF optics are needed between the headend and the node…ever.
  • It accelerates service deployment with zero-touch provisioning, enabling simplified network configuration and providing faster ROI.




Real-world deployment examples show that a Virtual CCAP solution provides a 10X increase in fiber efficiency, uses less than 10% of the power and requires less than 10% of the rack space of a traditional CCAP solution at about 45% of the capital expense and 35% of the operating costs.

In summary, Virtual CCAP provides cable operators a solution that:

  • Increases HSD capacity and flexibility by delivering Full Spectrum DOCSIS,
  • Minimizes the space/power footprint by eliminating the physical CMTS/CCAP and digitizing the headend,
  • Frees capital for IP investment by preserving the existing EQAM infrastructure,
  • Eliminates RF combining and optics by extending IP/Ethernet from the headend to the node, and
  • Provides an elegant migration to an all IP/Ethernet solution.

To learn about the Cable Infrastructure Challenge, click here.

To learn about Gainspeed’s Virtual CCAP Ecosystem, click here.

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