Ron Wilson, Altera
Pause a moment, if you will, to consider the plight of the oft-reviled cable television providers. At their roots, these companies operated essentially unidirectional networks of coaxial cable for distributing analog video signals to homes. That was then.
And this is now: those original co-ax networks have evolved into asymmetric, bidirectional digital data networks offering Internet access, voice telephony, security services—oh, yes, and high-definition television. They have become hybrid networks, with optical fiber between the head-end and the neighborhood optical line termination (OLT), and legacy co-ax from there to your cable box, which is affectionately known as customer premises equipment (CPE). Every link in this chain is trembling under the strains of too many users demanding too much bandwidth in too many ways.
And consider the near future. Customers are “cutting the cord:” not disconnecting from the cable, but unsubscribing from the expensive TV services and instead taking their video through the Internet access. Wireless providers are muscling in, as younger customers eschew TV monitors, personal computers, and fixed-line phones in favor of their mobile toys. And 5G threatens to deliver broadband service wirelessly to every square meter of your property. All these trends threaten to divert revenue away from the cable providers. What’s a cable company to do?
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