The cable industry has watched the telco and municipal industry leverage the Gigabit Internet trend for great visibility and PR value. In some ways Gigabit and other FTTH products (Verizon FiOS for example) have skewed the perception of broadband speed king – a title that the DOCSIS technology helped the cable industry secure, but may now be losing. Maybe not for long though.

DOCSIS 3.1 Interoperability
DOCSIS 3.1 is the cable industry’s answer to FTTH and Gigabit services, and CableLabs, the industry’s R&D arm just announced the first completed DOCSIS 3.1 interoperability test. DOCSIS 3.1 aims to deliver multi-gigabit speeds, up to 10 Gbps down eventually, and 1 Gbps up, giving cable companies the ability to surpass today’s gigabit offers.

“The remarkable speed at which DOCSIS 3.1 has gone from concept, to specification, to interoperability testing demonstrates the great value of collaboration by industry stakeholders,” said Phil McKinney, president and chief executive officer of CableLabs in a press release “This is a great step forward toward future deployment.”

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The interoperability test included providers of early implementations of cable modems, CCAPs, and test and measurement equipment focused on physical layer connectivity. DOCSIS 3.1 was first introduced in October 2013 and the cable industry has come up with a new public name to capture this gigabit momentum – Gigasphere.

CableLabs offers the following description of what DOCSIS 3.1 will bring to the cable industry:

  • Speed: Defines support for up to 10 Gbps downstream and 1 Gbps upstream network capabilities.
  • Quality of Experience: Utilizes Active Queue Management to significantly reduce network delay as data traffic grows in the home network, dramatically improving responsiveness for applications such as online gaming.
  • Higher Capacity: Enables a significant increase in network capacity with the ability to transmit up to 50 percent more data over the same spectrum on existing HFC networks.
  • Energy Efficiency: Enhancements to the DOCSIS protocols will increase cable modem energy efficiency.
  • Flexible Migration Strategy: DOCSIS 3.1 modems are designed to co-exist with older versions, enabling incremental deployment based on market demand.

Several cable companies have already moved forward with gigabit, even before DOCSIS 3.1 equipment becomes commercially available. Cox (with G1GABLAST), Atlantic Broadband, and Bright House Networks to name just a few are already active with Gigabit. All of these cable companies are using a mixture of technology, including FTTH, DOCSIS, and eventually DOCSIS 3.1.

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