The virtualized and converged central office/cable headend

When the first telephone exchanges were built in the 1870s, switchboard operators sitting in a “central office” manually connected two copper wires, allowing people to converse using Alexander Graham Bell’s invention - the telephone. Today it’s mostly fiber optics instead of copper wires—and data switches instead of operators—but the function of the central office or cable headend as an access aggregation point remains essentially the same.

While this aspect is unlikely to change, more is expected from a central office in the coming years.

Networks are being upgraded to multi-gigabit access speeds and ultra-low latency performance to support applications ranging from virtual reality to connected cars. 5G will drive new services and business models. The cost of CPU processing power is rapidly declining due to commodity servers, and virtualization technologies are maturing. To reduce latency and improve the user experience, servers will be increasingly deployed in the central office and further out in the access network.

This white paper explores four trends that are redefining the central office and headend:
  • Evolution of access networks
  • Convergence of wireless and wireline networks
  • Virtualization through NFV and SDN
  • Moving from central office to edge data center


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