TThe road to 10G is paved with reliability – an issue that Comcast’s chief network officer Elad Nafshi on Tuesday during a roundtable discussion held in Salt Lake City.
It was a big day for Utah’s leading Internet provider. Comcast has spent the last five years building the roadmap to create a 10G modem that will deliver multigigabit speeds to tens of millions of customers. Earlier this year, Comcast announced plans to begin the deployment of its multigigabit services, which is expected to be delivered to businesses and customers around the nation by 2025.
On Tuesday, Salt Lake City officially became the first place for Comcast and Xfinity customers to access the company’s multigigabit tier and fastest upload speeds in the country. With 2 gigabytes per second (Gbps) download speed and upload speed up to 10 times faster, it is a big step towards 10G.
“We really wanted to bring the latest and greatest technology through a network that offers reliability like no other,” explains Nafshi. “It’s one that scales infinitely and offers the fastest load times along with all the services our customers continue to rely on.”
Coming to 10G means being at the forefront of modern innovation. And as a leading provider of Internet services, Comcast is up for the challenge. Five years in the making, the company is celebrating the construction and launch of an architecture that is standardized, scalable and bandwidth expandable.
It’s a technology that delivers on that reliability promise—while creating a smaller carbon footprint along the way—and it starts with what can be considered the brains of fiber technology: the headend.
In Salt Lake City, Comcast’s master headend houses digital transmitters that create and manage broadband data in one console used for about 600,000 devices. Each feeds between 10,000 and 15,000 devices. There are many cable connections with a digital transmitter required to create and manage broadband data consumers. Enter Distributed Access Architecture, or DAA.
Pre-DAA, digital transmitters connected by bulky cables that feed fiber to about 16 nodes – the containers that customers get installed by technicians to serve as connection points between devices and both send and receive data. Comcast provides 700 miles of fiber in Salt Lake City and nearly 5,000 miles throughout the state of Utah.
David Kroch, Comcast’s senior director west division headend engineering, says that the new world of fiber delivery is DAA. In this world, digital transmitters are about the size of a pair of fingernail clippers and are consolidated so that each one feeds about 48 nodes, which individually feed about 21-33 devices per home. And the cables are much, much smaller.
“Instead of using all that cabling, we use fiber to go out to the devices,” says Krook.
Comcast is going a step further by building housing containers, known as racks, for the new transmitters. In the new world of DAA, the racks, once black, are white – and take up much less space. “[White racks] Create ambient light so we don’t have to use as much lighting. So in that spirit of being efficient – to go green – we’re trying to reduce our carbon footprint,” says Krook.
And the physical footprint of the headend is also significantly reduced. “In the [one rack]we feed about 526 node areas or neighborhoods, which take up about five racks’ worth of space in our other architecture,” says Krook.
“Everything we do depends on the headend,” adds Nafshi. “The platform itself was architected and built for sustainability from the ground up, and now we can to reduce overall power consumption required to deliver the capacity of 50 percent by the year 2030. This is not just the bleeding edge of technology. This way we become more responsible citizens in the process of [creating that technology]”.
More than 100,000 Salt Lake homes and businesses access Xfinity and Comcast for their broadband speeds. Nafshi says that, when combined with Comcast Octave, the AI-powered platform deployed in 2020 to enable real-time connectivity monitoring, the new multigigabit tiers will be a game changer for Utah businesses, individual customers, and low-income community members to be. which Comcast has partnered with various nonprofits to provide digital literacy, connectivity and equipment.
“It will enable them to grow infinitely,” he says. “It gives us the ability to provide capacity speed and latency like never before to more customers than ever before – and to do so completely seamlessly. As businesses continue to grow, as needs continue to evolve, the network will always are there, and it will always enable them to enable us to serve them with reliability like never before.