Cable multiple system operators (MSOs) are still grappling with the upsurge of broadband video usage that is taxing their bandwidth and escalating their costs for delivering high-speed Internet service. During an industry conference in early December, a Mediacom Communications executive said Netflix alone accounts for 40 percent of the company's broadband bandwidth usage, echoing similar reports by other cable companies.
With the increase in Internet usage expected to grow exponentially, the arrival of CCAP technology is coming just in time. CCAP, the Converged Cable Access Platform (pronounced see-cap), combines digital video and Internet data capabilities into a singular platform inside a cable headend. It's an emerging piece of inside plumbing that may seem a bit arcane to outside observers, but it will be vitally important as cable manages the increasing demands of broadband delivery.
Specifically, CCAP combines edge quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) technology used for digital video services with cable modem termination system (CMTS) technology used for Internet delivery and puts them into one device. The result is much more efficient digital service management (in technical terms, greater density per port) and a large-scale reduction in the need for hardware equipment space and electrical power. As the situation currently stands, those associated costs threaten to knock the bloom off of the rose of cable Internet profits.
CCAP has moved off the drawing board and into the marketplace. Its arrival comes as operators are grappling with the increased traffic for OTT video and their own interest in expanding VoD and other video options. CCAP is like the cavalry coming over the hill to cable's rescue.
The goals for CCAP are clear and logical. For years, cable has been growing up with separate video and data delivery systems that have led to stacks of separate headend equipment, company structures and cultures, and even services for consumers. If cable is going to integrate its services into converged offerings for its customers, it must first implement a convergence of its own technology platforms.
The products will take some time to fully develop – some early versions are just "CCAP compatible" and need to add full functionality. MSOs will need to sort through many operational issues to make the new consolidated platform work seamlessly. But the vision and goals behind CCAP are ones that address both current needs and future opportunities.
As Internet Video Surges, CCAP's Coming to the Rescue explains CCAP and the goals and major drivers behind the platform, as well as its implications for cable operators and suppliers. Included is a look at known CCAP activity by six suppliers that have entered the market.