The Cable Infrastructure Challenge

“I am out of space in my headends.”
“I need to reduce power consumption and be more green.”
“I need to reduce CAPEX.”
“IP video is inundating my network.”

Do these issues sound familiar?



Cable networks are being overwhelmed by a deluge of IP Video traffic. As a result, cable operators face escalating costs to deliver bandwidth and are forced to invest heavily just to maintain network performance levels. Hybrid fiber coax (HFC) networks were designed to carry broadcast analog video, not the wide ranging high-speed data services, IP Video products, teleconferencing, cloud computing and other business services they need to deliver today. New services and growing bandwidth demands are driving a 40% to 60% average annual compound growth in capacity requirements. IP Video now accounts for over 62% of all Internet traffic – 67% of downstream traffic – and growing. These trends have radically changed everything and show no sign of fading.

Cable networks have reached the tipping point. But there is good news for operators. In the US, cable HFC networks carry 83% of all Internet connections greater than 6 Mbps, and they reach over 93% of all homes. If leveraged effectively, this pervasive, existing HFC infrastructure can provide enormous capacity, including support for multi-gigabit per residence connections. However, to do so, MSOs must move to a new network architecture.









At the time CCAP (Converged Cable Access Platform) was conceived, MSOs were seeing dramatic demand growth for both legacy video and high-speed data services. To increase network capacity, cable operators had to invest significantly in Edge QAM (EQAM) and CMTS equipment. However, the capital expense, as well as the required physical space, power, cooling, cabling and management/support requirements, were a huge impediment to meeting capacity demands.

CCAP, which combines headend functions into a single system, was conceived to address these problems. CCAP integrates the physical EQAM and CMTS devices into a single device, but in so doing, it changes the OSS/BSS model for both. As a result, the back office model for both the EQAM and CMTS infrastructure also changes.


In the years since the conception and specification of CCAP, an unexpected and revolutionary shift ─ a sea change ─ has occurred in how consumers watch TV. Customers are increasingly accessing video content via IP from cable operators and “Over-the-Top” (OTT) providers like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. And customers are using a variety of devices to consume that content – computers, tablets and smart phones. This radical shift in video consumption has driven a corresponding shift from QAM to IP/Ethernet video transmission.

CCAP is a great framework, and its foundation addresses many challenging issues. However, it forces operators to select a single vendor, build a centralized monolithic architecture and integrate legacy and IP solutions into a single box. Furthermore, as the network is split into ever-smaller service groups, operators will again face capacity and spectrum challenges in the network and space and power limitations in the headend.


With many of its benefits linked to overhauling the legacy QAM infrastructure, CCAP simply was not designed for today’s IP-centric network. There is simply no benefit to replacing the existing EQAM infrastructure and forcing a change in the back office required to support it.

A traditional CCAP-based architecture cannot address the quickly evolving needs of the network and does not allow cable operators the freedom and flexibility to focus capital investment on building out their IP infrastructure.

Cable operators need a solution that will:

  • increase HSD capacity
  • address the space/power issue
  • not impact the existing EQAM infrastructure and back office
  • minimize combining requirements
  • eliminate analog optics
  • provide an elegant migration to a digital headend and an all IP/Ethernet solution.

Enter Gainspeed’s Virtual CCAP architecture.

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

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