News that Midcontinent Communications  launched DOCSIS 3.0 services in June came as no surprise. The company has been a consistent technology leader.

In 2007, CT magazine named Midcontinent one of its Top Tier systems, an early activation of 64-QAM upstream being one of its claims to fame. (Click here for the operator profile. And here for a discussion of 64-QAM that references Midcontinent’s continuing work.)

More to the point, at last year’s Cable-Tec Expo, Midcontinent Lead Engineer David Haigh presented a paper on DOCSIS 3.0 migration. Last fall, we asked Haigh about DOCSIS 3.0 and smaller operators. His succinct answer, which we published in the November 2008 NCTC Technology Edge newsletter, merits a re-hearing.

CT: Do smaller operators face unique challenges in migration to DOCSIS 3.0?

Haigh: Each cable operator will face their own unique challenges. The smaller operators may not be able to obtain a larger backbone to the Internet or between headends to support the extra throughput provided by DOCSIS 3.0.

The smaller operators may have challenges in finding capital to support a quick DOCSIS 3.0 rollout. This capital doesn’t just cover DOCSIS 3.0. In many cases, the plant may require an upgrade to provide additional RF spectrum, or they may choose to move channels to digital to free up RF spectrum. When it comes down to edge QAMs, timing servers, etc., it costs a lot less per customer to feed them from a large headend than a much smaller one.

Smaller operators may also struggle in finding or training technicians and engineers to help deploy and maintain DOCSIS 3.0.
On the other side of things, some medium to smaller operators may be a little slow in initially rolling out DOCSIS 3.0, but once they do, they may be able to have it deployed in each of their markets fairly quickly. Although the larger MSO will be the first to roll out DOCSIS 3.0, it will probably take some time to roll it out everywhere.

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