Seamless Evolution From HFC to Fiber

Due to the demand of users for better quality services that many currently count on, new development opportunities have risen in current communication networks. That is why there is a need to develop new high capacity networks, which support the demands of bandwidth and the progressive increase in the transport of data traffic. Fiber optic networks are a network model that allows meeting the new and growing needs for transmission and security capacity requested by both, users and telecommunication operators.

Because of the constant renewals in the networks, in addition to the demand from the operators to have the best technology to provide better services to their customers, a very advantageous network emerged: the fiber optic network. This model offers many more benefits than HFC today and is widely used by users to improve their services. Likewise, through new technologies, with purely optical network elements, the objectives of increasing transmission capacity and security are achieved.

As mentioned, fiber optic transmission technologies have evolved because of the increasing demand for high-speed and high-bandwidth services, which had a direct impact on optical network architectures, leading to the definition of three levels in the evolutionary scale of the optical networks: first, second and third generation networks.

Rapid deployment of fiber optic networks over coaxial cable in multiple regions over the past few months is making possible for many of our homes (not all) to reach 100 Mbps, opening the door to new types of services beyond simple Internet access. What are the differences between these two technologies? Is fiber or cable better? Which offers more possibilities?

Pure fiber-optic networks that reach into the home are composed entirely of fiber-optic cables, hence they are also known as Fiber To The Home (FTTH).

The optical fibers allow to send a significant amount of data to a great distance and at high speeds, and they are the means of transmission for excellence, to be immune to the electromagnetic interferences. They are also used for local networks, where high reliability and reliability are required.


The optical fiber is a transmission medium consisting of a very thin wire of transparent material, glass, or plastic materials, by which pulses of light representing the data to be transmitted are sent. The light source may be a laser or a light emitting diode (LED). The light beam is completely confined and propagates through the fiber core with a reflection angle above the full reflection limit angle.

Unlike fiber optics, data are transported in electrical coaxial cables, so that they are not immune to electromagnetic interference at all and are much more susceptible to signal attenuations caused by cable losses due to their length. Hence the need to go by placing regenerators or amplifiers in each stretch of a few tens or hundreds of meters. This is known as HFC (Hybrid Fiber Coaxial) type networks, which some operators try to sell as pure optical fiber, although they are not.

In Intraway, in the Symphonica product team, we have experienced projects with both technologies. No matter that if the platform is multi-technology and multi-vendor, the way to provide the services on GPON is, in a discrete way, easier to perform, since the same evolution of technology, forces vendors to develop management tools much easier to integrate by operators.

Unfortunately, in Latin America, due to the lack of infrastructure, very few operators have this technology because the costs of deployment are higher and this leads to rising costs to end users.

As we have seen, the differences between the two network technologies are considerable, especially concerning the medium carrying the data. The theoretical maximum capacities regarding transmission speed are also significantly different, with optical fiber as a clear winner and as the main future technology.

However, today and considering the actual needs of domestic consumers, both technologies are very valid and can provide a good connection with speeds of more than 100, 200 or 300 Mbps without problems. However, the broad capabilities of fiber optics will achieve that in a few years we have symmetrical connections at home more than 1 Gbps, but another thing is that we can take advantage of them.

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