When Will HFC Reach Exhaust?
Though it likely was not so fully understood at the time, cable operators have been arguing for decades that the hybrid fiber coax network is more flexible than fiber to the home platforms, and can be upgraded at less cost.
We might be approaching a period where the statement starts to be qualified, though. Comcast, which is upgrading all of its locations to gigabit speeds using a modem upgrade (DOCSIS 3.0 to DOCSIS 3.1), also is switching to a fiber to home design for customers who want symmetrical 2 Gbps service.
To be sure, there is no immediate need for a full platform change. But eventually, it might happen that the HFC platform is scrapped for a fiber to home network.
That would represent a “final” realization of the “technology hybrid” approach the U.S. cable TV industry has relied upon for several decades.
That strategy includes an understanding of how to manage a business when fundamental technology changes occur. The notion of a hybrid approach suggests industries often adopt a “use both” approach when in the midst of a technology change.
Doing so allows entities to take advantage of experience curves for the older technology, while gradually introducing the replacement technology.
Often, the next generation of technology might not have the full capability set, at production prices, to support immediate and complete replacement of the legacy approach.
Will there be yet another technology transition? Undoubtedly. The issue is what the shift will entail. Some might bet on untethered or mobile.