hybrid fiber coaxial network (HFC network) definition

Contributor(s): Donald Fichter

A hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) network is a telecommunication technology in which optical fiber cable and coaxial cable are used in different portions of a network to carry broadband content (such as video, data, and voice). Using HFC, a local CATV company installs fiber optic cable from the cable head-end (distribution center) to serving nodes located close to business and residential users and from these nodes uses coaxial cable to individual businesses and homes. An advantage of HFC is that some of the characteristics of fiber optic cable (high bandwidth and low noise and interference susceptibility) can be brought close to the user without having to replace the existing coaxial cable that is installed all the way to the home and business.

Both cable TV and telephone companies are using HFC in new and upgraded networks and, in some cases, sharing the same infrastructure to carry both video and voice conversations in the same system. Scientific Atlanta lists four reasons why cable TV and telephone companies are upgrading facilities to HFC:

1) The use of fiber optic cable for the backbone paths allows more data to be carried than coaxial cable alone.

2) The higher bandwidth supports reverse paths for interactive data flowing back from the user.

3) That portion of the infrastructure with fiber optic cable is more reliable than coaxial cable. Reliability is perceived as more important in an interactive environment.

4) Fiber optic cable is more efficient for interconnecting cable TV or phone companies that are consolidating with geographically adjacent companies.

This was first published in September 2005

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