Enabling Cable MSO Business Services: What’s in Store for SD-WAN?

Enabling Cable MSO Business Services: What’s in Store for SD-WAN?

Cable MSOs are typically now leveraging SD-WAN in two ways:

  1. Offer managed services by working with equipment vendors to deploy equipment into end-user customer enterprise networks. This is very similar to a managed customer premises equipment (CPE) instance where the service provider manages the SD-WAN service for the customer. While this is now the most familiar managed services approach involving SD-WAN, it does require the installation of devices at head-ends and customer branch offices, sometimes out of the operator’s footprint.
  2. Combine SD-WAN with network functions virtualization (NFV) to build overlays using traditional broadband access to the edge of the operator’s network, either at an E-NNI or an internet POP. (This approach is popularly called ‘vWAN’.) By tunneling their out-of-footprint traffic back to their network interconnects, operators get around the need to build more head-ends to aggregate offnet traffic and manage remote CPE devices.

The growing popularity of SD-WAN services and the availability of gigabit internet is creating a significant opportunity for cable MSOs, wrote Heavy Reading contributing analyst Craig Leddy in a recent post about broadband service changes for the cable market during 2018. “SD-WAN is the catalyst for a fundamental shift in cable’s relationship with business customers and its marketplace strategy,” Leddy wrote.

What’s the appeal?

Broadly-speaking, SD-WAN is appealing to cable MSOs because:

That last point is worth looking at more closely, because hybrid SD-WAN in particular (adding SD-WAN options to existing links or broadband circuits) allows business service providers to serve regional and national customers with branch offices outside the footprint typically serviced by more traditional Type-II circuits (using circuits from another provider to complete end-to-end service delivery). This means cable MSOs can compete nationally outside their existing footprint, against each other or incumbent telcos.

There are a couple of ways to make that happen:

  1. Partner with value-added resellers (VARs) and cloud-based operators like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Azure to deliver these types of services to the end-customer.
  2. Have the customer procure broadband services from a local access provider and attach the managed service appliance there with low-touch provisioning and automation; in this way, the operator builds SD-WAN service back into the cloud.

SD-WAN also allows applications to choose the best path based on network availability and performance. By using a combination of metro Ethernet, broadband, and leased line services, application performance can be affected by a combination of latency, jitter, and bandwidth constraints. As the methods of access into the cloud become more diverse and disparate, it becomes more important for operators to understand all aspects of network and application performance; without this understanding, it isn’t possible to properly manage the customer experience.

Customer experience assurance

However, when an operator goes outside its footprint, visibility into network performance and customer experience can be a challenge. For service assurance to scale with cable MSOs as they branch out into new service areas in this way, it must be flexible and able to easily deploy across diverse infrastructure. Being vendor agnostic and virtualized will make the process of deploying end-to-end SD-WAN service assurance much easier.

Accedian’s SkyLIGHT suite of solutions can provide end-to-end visibility into the SD-WAN service with the flexibility of the various topologies that will emerge as SD-WAN evolves. Using Accedian’s years of experience in the service provider environment and recently added layer 4-7 monitoring and reporting for network and applications performance, operators can fully assure that their network and cloud-based services are meeting agreed performance objectives. Most importantly, they can confidently control the end-user customer experience.

Eric Mitch

As Solutions Manager at Accedian, Eric applies a strong technical background in telecommunications to design Carrier Ethernet, small cells, and software-defined networking (SDN)/network functions virtualization (NFV) solutions for the cable MSO industry, working with partners, vendors, developers, and customers. He has more than 15 years experience in commercial and residential network engineering, operations, architecture, sales, and the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF). Eric is a MEF Carrier Ethernet Certified Professional (MEF-CECP).

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  • Acronym Guide

    327 Terms, Page 1 of 82


    Second Generation
    A cellular telecom network that uses second-generation wireless technology. Such networks digitally encrypt phone conversations, and allow data services including SMS text messages.


    Third Generation
    A cellular network that uses third-generation wireless technology based on standards that support wireless voice telephony, mobile and fixed internet access, video calls, and mobile TV. Such networks are capable of data transfer rates of at least 200 Kbps and as fast as 21 Mbps.


    Third Generation Partnership Project
    International collaboration among telecommunications associations, with the purpose of developing and maintaining the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) specification for 3G mobile networks.


    Fourth Generation
    A cellular network that uses fourth generation wireless technology to deliver mobile broadband internet access in addition to voice and text messaging. Two synonymous 4G systems are commercially deployed: Mobile WiMAX an Long Term Evolution (LTE). LTE is the predominant system in the U.S.

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