DENVER -- Cable Next-Gen Technologies -- While there was some debate as to whether small and midsized cable operators would embrace DOCSIS 3.1 in the near term, the SCTE's Chris Bastian was bullish on 3.1's prospects.
With Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) already knee deep in DOCSIS 3.1 trials, and other large cable operators gearing up for their own trials, moderator Alan Breznick asked Bastian, CTO and SVP at Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) , if DOCSIS will be deployed across the board.
"I feel strongly that it's just a timing issue," said Bastian, who also delivered the keynote Thursday morning. "I think within a couple of years, all MSOs will be using it. "
Bastian said deploying 3.1 would depend on each cable operator's budget, as well as preparations of their respective outside plants. Competitive threats and customer pressure for the promise of gigabit speeds will also drive DOCSIS 3.1 rollouts.
"I think it's a technology that what's not to like about it? It's increasing speeds, increasing capacity and has great features. I can't wait to see the features of 3.1 rolled out," Bastian said. "The operators are going to get there. The larger ones are going to start in 2017 with rollouts. Next year will be the big year."
Asked by Breznick whether fiber-to-the-home was inevitable or if DOCSIS would continue to be extended, Bastian, who came over from Comcast in December, said he didn't see them as mutually exclusive. (See SCTE Hires Comcast's Bastian As CTO.)
"I think they're both good tools for the MSO," he said, noting that the infrastructure was already in place for DOCSIS. "There's going to be select use cases for FTTH or even more so for fiber to the business. I see MSOs employing both."
On the topic of which network functions or equipment would be among the first to be virtualized, Bastian gave his "Big Four" of routers, CMTS, cable modem and set-top boxes. There needs to be standardization of the interfaces ahead of virtualization, but cable operators, such as Charter Communications Inc. , have already virtualized some set-top box functions in the cloud, according to Bastian.
Breznick also asked Bastian what role cable operators would play in regards to 4K UHD, and whether its prospects were different from 3D. Bastian said that UHD also needed standardization in order to build ecosystem across network providers, subscribers and manufacturers.
"It's an ecosystem that they all have to operate in," he said. "The thing with 3D was there were competing standards and most of them still required glasses."
— Mike Robuck, editor, Telco Transformation