According to optical-transport provider Aurora Networks Inc., digital return technology is “visibly becoming cable operators’ solution of choice to meet the increasing upstream demands for today and tomorrow.”

Aurora based its opinion on collected industry data, predicting that, by 2014, the annual deployment of digital return technology will surpass that of analog.

“Driven by today’s increased need for high-speed data rates and the inherent need for higher quality and performance, digital return has become widely adopted in the industry as the way forward. Cable operators who are already deploying it have been able to take advantage of the many features of DOCSIS 3.0 technology with no further upstream network investment,” the company notes. “Implementation of upstream channel bonding can be achieved quickly and easily to address subscriber demand for higher upstream speeds. This is not necessarily true in cable networks that have extensively deployed analog return solutions. Even with analog solutions that do meet today’s upstream requirements, there will be challenges to meet future needs, such as expansion from 42 MHz to 85 MHz with 1024-QAM loading while achieving the required distances.” ??

“Digital return was developed to be the highest performance, most cost-effective upstream solution for operators, addressing the shortcomings of analog return transmission and providing a future-proof solution,” comments John Dahlquist, vice president/ Marketing. “Digital return brings performance and operational savings as well as a scalable fiber-efficient solution. It’s gratifying to see that digital return technology, the only upstream solution ever embraced by Aurora, is fast becoming the predominant upstream technology.” ??

Aurora calls its projections "conservative;" the perception has sometimes been that digital return is more expensive than analog.

“This is no longer true, and we expect that the adoption of digital return will be accelerated beyond that presented here,” the company adds. “Recent generations of digital return have driven the cost of the link down. With a single return digital link now on par with an analog link and a dual return (for a segmented node) much cheaper than analog, digital return is now a very cost-effective solution. It’s a ‘set-it and forget-it’ platform, resulting in low, ongoing operating costs. Choosing digital return is now an even easier decision.” ?

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