Industry Blog

Why Today’s Cable Networks Need Effective Data Management

Time to read: 4 minutes

Despite all the talk around cord cutting, cable TV is estimated to be nearly 40% of all TV consumption according to ratings company Nielsen. Cable companies are innovating and fighting cord cutting. To increase the stickiness with consumers, a growing number of cable network companies have either launched cellular services or bundled streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ to deliver more value to subscribers. That strategy is paying off.

According to the Wall Street Journal, over five million Americans turned to their cable providers for mobile services, enticed by flexibility and better prices.  A 2021 study by PwC found that while streaming services boomed, consumers still kept their cable TV subscriptions – thus pausing an earlier downward trend.

And as cable networks expand and integrate new services, the cable industry has been steadily adopting virtualization to help them leverage web-based architectures and provide services for their subscribers. Distributed access architectures (DAAs) and passive optical networks (PONs) have long since been a part of the digital transformation roadmap for cable operators.

As industries around the world have been finding out unfortunately, there’s nothing quite like a global pandemic to pile on the pressure to digitize. With a record number of people continuing to work remotely, and demand for streamed entertainment in the home reaching an all-time high, the cable industry is now racing toward virtualized, cloud native environments to manage traffic and meet the needs of a rapidly evolving market.

In order to lay down a path for this challenging world where users expect a seamless home office experience, cable operators need to be able to manage subscriber data effectively while delivering substantial capacity in a way that’s fast, secure, reliable, and, crucially, available at the moment it’s needed. There was a time when home broadband use was simpler for cable operators to forecast, but that time had long since passed. On demand quality of experience is key to successfully meeting demand.

The case for virtualization

Demand these days is so elastic and difficult to predict, as a consequence, the rigid allocation of resources no longer makes any sense. Trying to predict when a hybrid worker might be at an office-based location and when they might be working at home instead is futile. Society is becoming more agile, so our digital infrastructure should become more agile to accommodate.

For cable operators, being able to deliver capacity dynamically has been a long-time holy grail, which is why new forms of distributed access architecture (DAA) have become more widespread. DAA works because it removes all the hardware components from hubs, but in order to completely solve this puzzle operators will need to migrate to a system where the management, data and video planes are all virtualized.

Effective subscriber data management

Like mobile operators, cable operators need agile solutions to manage vast amounts of subscriber data that are fully interoperable and free from the burden of vendor lock-in. Enea has a suite of solutions for effective data management that have been deployed by major mobile operators globally and are suited well for cable operators. Enea’s cloud-based products are flexible and can provide effective data management for cable operators who have either bundled offerings and/or mobile services such as a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) for 4G or 5G.

Enea’s Unified Data Manager (UDM) is a powerful field-tested platform that cable operators can deploy for seamless cloud-native and subscriber data exchange across networks (access), services and applications. To ensure that subscribers can easily use their services anytime anywhere, including roaming, the Enea Access Manager provides the AAA and AUSF functions for swift authentication and access.

And for cable TV providers with cellular networks that require faster wireless internet and video speeds, Enea provides virtualized traffic management solutions that classify and continually measure the flow of even encrypted traffic and deliver an outstanding mobile video Quality of Experience. So, now thanks to Enea you can deliver fantastic quality entertainment on both your customer’s set top box and their mobile device – while managing their subscriber data effectively.

What makes Enea’s subscriber data management solutions unique is that they also support Service Based Architecture for 5G and work on RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service) and Diameter protocols to integrate Cable and xDSL – for 4G. They are 3GPP based so cable operators can deploy them with confidence knowing that our solutions will be interoperable and be free of vendor lock-ins. For Fixed Wireless Access, Enea solutions can be deployed as part of a network slice to serve fixed 5G customers over the air. Over the air internet that can be an ideal solution for cable operators to who do not have a fixed or wired service underground in a particular region.

Here’s another major benefit with Enea – cable operators will be able to cut the total cost of ownership associated with hardware by as much as 50%.  With our virtualized solutions, operators have been able to reduce the number of servers, allowing them to provide a greener and more sustainable solution to the world’s connectivity demands.

Meeting the rapidly evolving requirements of a subscriber that are more mobile and agile than ever before is going to be an enormous challenge for operators, but everything points to virtualization as being central to progress in every conceivable way. And when combined with a data management solution, capacity allocation can be made even more streamlined and dynamic, improving service and reducing cable operators’ dependency on hardware – all while facilitating a leaner, greener approach to connectivity.