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Dell'Oro Survey Report - Mapping The Future of Cable VirtualizationA survey of 50 global cable operators reveals a commitment to migrating towards virtual CMTS (vCMTS) platforms as part of distributed access architecture (DAA) deployments to help expand their broadband capacity, improve signal quality in their access networks, and move to a more virtualized architecture that allows for the end-to-end automation of broadband services. By 2025, 66% of respondents expect to deliver average downstream bandwidth of 500Mbps-1Gbps to over 1Gbps, a substantial increase from the 24% who offer those average speeds today.

To help accomplish these speed objectives, operators plan to continue their node splitting activity to reduce service group sizes while also migrating to either remote PHY (RPDs) or remote MACPHY devices (RMDs) within the next couple of years. In fact, all 50 operator respondents plan to have either remote PHY or remote MACPHY devices in their networks by 2024, with 70% of respondents saying they will have remote PHY devices and an additional 54% saying they will have remote MACPHY devices.

The acceleration of DAA deployments—particularly remote PHY devices—also means an increase in the use of vCMTS platforms to provide MAC layer control of RPDs currently, evolving to deliver MAC Manager functions in upcoming Flexible MAC Architecture (FMA) deployments, which are expected to coincide with DOCSIS 4.0 rollouts. In fact, 52% of respondents plan to deploy some of the platforms defined in the FMA specification within the next two years, with an additional 32% saying they will deploy beyond two years.

Our survey results clearly show that today’s vCMTS platforms are just the first step in the longer process of virtualizing cable broadband networks and providing far more flexibility in provisioning and delivering new services. Additionally, the migration to vCMTS platforms is driven largely by cable operators’ desire to have better performance metrics and telemetry that have been heretofore difficult to collect from traditional, integrated CCAP platforms. 70% of respondents said that network virtualization is a priority for their organizations. vCMTS platforms and DAA are just the first steps in a longer evolution towards that goal.