Denver -- CNG2019 -- No single application today encourages consumers to buy gigabit home-network subscriptions, but as all tech professionals know that day soon will arrive -- and a growing base of operators rely on DOCSIS 3.1 as the foundation for 10G and beyond.
That so-called killer app could be video-based; it may well be virtual reality, augmented reality or perhaps a blend of AR and VR, plus a little real-reality for good measure. It might be a game where instead of wandering the streets seeking oddly shaped creatures, players skim through books looking for gerunds. Doubtful, but that too would use a lot of bandwidth. It may meld together audio and IoT, a household's ongoing shopping and to-do list with payment methods that require various forms of authentication and security, along with storage and backup. Most likely it's something nobody's talking about publicly yet.
While MSOs may not know what subscribers will do with 1 gig, participants on a Cable Next-Gen panel, "Welcome to 10G: Why DOCSIS May Never Die," agreed it's vital they (and the entire cable industry) deploy 10G or Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1 to enable any and everything consumers and small to midsize businesses wish to do via their connection to the Internet, to WiFi and the world at large.
It reminded panelist Jon Pederson, chief technology officer at Midco, of an adage about when it's best to plant a tree. The answer: 20 years ago. When is the second-best time to plant a tree? Today. If operators wait for use cases, they will be too late for their operations to survive, failing themselves, their employees and customers, he said. All subscribers won't want 10 Gbps just, as not everyone wants 1 Gbps today, said Pederson, adding that about 3% of Midco subscribers opted onto its gigabit service since the primarily rural provider began offering it in 2017. Likewise, not all subscribers choose an operator's security service, pay-TV or OTT offering, or other service, he said.
"I think we're planting a tree for the next 10, 20 years," Pederson said. " 'Need' is one of those words that gets tossed around a lot. It's not need; it's 'want.' We need to provide that spectrum, and the highest level for a subset of our customers."
Likewise a small percentage of Charter Communications subscribers have adopted 1 Gbps so far, but the MSO only finished fully deploying D3.1 last year, Steve Williams, vice president of DOCSIS at Charter, told the CNG2019 audience on Wednesday morning.
But, cautioned Kinney Bacon, principal engineer of Premises Technology at Cox Communications (MoCA), providing gigabit service infrastructure does not automatically mean end-customers have gigabit speeds. Thus, managing subscriber expectations becomes imperative to retain subscribers and ensure their satisfaction.
Operators want to reduce subscriber calls; they're expensive and time-consuming. Educating help-desk respondents so they then can share information about wired versus wireless with callers can turn into new revenue or a stickier relationship, said Pederson.
"We haven't so much stepped across the threshold as we've been pushed across the threshold," he said. "There's an uptick in customer calls but I see that as an opportunity. That's how we treat it."
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana.