Introducing GigaXtend Orchestrator: The Abracadabra App

By Joe McGarvey, Marketing Director |
Vice president of engineering holding a genie lamp

If the vice president of engineering at a major MSO — make that any MSO, really — stumbled across a dusty lantern of ancient origins, does anyone doubt what his or her first wish would be?

If your immediate response isn’t a cavalry of trained technicians, you’re probably not as tuned into what’s keeping MSO executives up at night as you thought.

The insomnia-inducing reality is that MSOs are facing a once-in-a-generation upgrade of their HFC networks with an inadequate supply of skilled workers. A major contributor to the shortage is that many technicians hired to facilitate the previous technology transformation of roughly 20 years ago have retired or will soon reach retirement age.

While an impressive network of industry associations, community colleges and equipment vendors, including ATX, have made admirable progress in recruiting and training a new crop of technicians, those efforts are falling short of the unprecedented demand. Making matters worse is the impending explosion of construction projects to be funded by government subsidies, primarily Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program-related, that will further drain an already critically shallow labor pool over the next several years.

Precious Commodity

This severe supply-and-demand imbalance has created a situation in which technician time is arguably an MSO’s most precious commodity, a condition likely to persist for at least the next several years. Maximizing that commodity, it follows, should be a top priority of MSOs everywhere.

The good news is that ATX, forgive the cliché, has an app for that.

GigaXtend Orchestrator is an intuitive and easy-to-use application that enables technicians to access the intelligence built into ATX’s 1.8GHz-capable amps and nodes to accelerate installation and configuration procedures, helping MSOs maximize an increasingly precious resource. While maybe not as easy as uttering abracadabra, firing up GigaXtend Orchestrator enables technicians to perform familiar tasks at a fraction of the time it once took, while simultaneously reducing the risk of errors.

Launched from an iOS or Android device using the ATX Bluetooth adapter, GigaXtend Orchestrator empowers technicians to manually or automatically align HFC actives by configuring dynamic Automatic Level and Slope Control (ALSC), adjusting power management settings and adjusting the electronic attenuators and EQs. Additionally, technicians can export the current configuration and other information for historical reference and to help accelerate the restoration of network outages.

The good news is that ATX, forgive the cliché, has an app for that.

Praised by several major MSOs for its power and simplicity, GigaXtend Orchestrator, through a unique graphical user interface, essentially recreates the configuration and tuning experience in an electronic setting, significantly accelerating what was previously a manual process. In addition, the application reduces nearly all configuration and tuning procedures to a few steps, while performing multiple calculations in the background — further freeing up technician time and reducing the risk of error introduction.

Another major GigaXtend Orchestrator differentiator is that it works with both ATX GigaXtend 1.8GHz amplifiers and nodes, enabling technicians to configure and tune the critical components in the HFC network with the same application and in the same manner. Installing and configuring actives through software also relieves technicians from carrying plugs, equalizers and other accessories and allows MSOs to realize huge savings related to no longer needing to stock and maintain an inventory of thousands of parts.

Tapping into Intelligence

But the real magic behind GigaXtend Orchestrator, as mentioned previously, is its ability to tap into the underlying intelligence in ATX’s 1.8GHz-capable amplifiers and nodes. So advanced are these capabilities, compared to the previous technology generation, including the ability to operate in 1.2GHz mode, it now makes operational and economic sense for MSOs to exclusively purchase 1.8GHz outside plant equipment beginning now, even if you have no current plans to move to DOCSIS 4.0 or if a DOCSIS 4.0 migration is a few years away.

Either way, opting for 1.8GHz over 1.2GHz is like taking out an insurance policy against regrettable spend. That’s because purchasing next-gen actives today ensures that your outside plant will be 1.8GHz-ready when, or if, you decide to move to DOCSIS 4.0.

The arguments and evidence supporting going the 1.8GHz route are spelled out and validated in a recently published guidebook from ATX, which details the seven most prominent reasons why all future outside plant purchases should be 1.8GHz-capable.

In keeping with the Arabian Nights metaphor, resolving the shortage of experienced labor may be a genie that it will take MSOs years to cram back into its bottle. But that’s no reason why the most immediate and pressing wishes of sleep-deprived network engineers and cable executives should go completely unfulfilled in the meantime.