Trends in Cable Network Economics: Implications for the Open Internet
34 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2016 Last revised: 25 Sep 2016
Date Written: April 4, 2016
Over the past 50 years the network economics of cable networks have had a profound impact upon the diversity of information available to modern society in the form of video and broadband content. Cost-effective one-way transport increased the diversity of television channels to several hundred from a handful; cost-effective two-way transport established societal reliance upon always-on access to Internet content at broadband speeds. Incremental technological innovation over time has been the key driver establishing favorable network economics to push this evolution of expanding services and information carried on cable networks. This paper develops a framework to describe how the network economics of cable services has evolved from the use of analog television and digital television to new IP transport technologies such as Cable Service Interface Specification version 3.1 (DOCSIS 3.1) and network management technologies of software defined networking (SDN) and network virtual function (NFV), and the implications for public policy. This analysis shows that as video becomes the dominant application carried by the Internet, the Open Internet framework will need to address the network access issues specific to IP video including the wholesale migration of video to IP transport, definition of services using quality of service (QoS) and reasonable approaches for managing public Internet congestion. The analysis also shows how the economics of new channel deployment over cable will become easier in the IP environment, but more complex with regard to the network operations and traffic management associated with quality.
Keywords: network economics, cable network capacity, Open Internet
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