The gigabit life is upon us, and as more operators roll out this new class of internet speed to their customers, the DOCSIS 3.1 technology will play a major role in helping to deliver these new speeds to consumers far and wide. At the Society of Cable and Telecommunications Engineers’ annual Cable-Tec Expo this week in Philadelphia, cable operators and vendors gathered to discuss the capabilities of the technology and the work that lies ahead.
DOCSIS is the standard technology that is used to provide internet access over a cable modem, and DOCSIS 3.1 is the latest version that is proven to reduce latency and network delays while improving cable modem energy efficiency and offering 50 percent more bandwidth. Many cable operators now have begun to leverage DOCSIS 3.1 as they look to meet customer demands and compete in the gigabit speed-world. The great thing about DOCSIS 3.1 is that it is backwards compatible with 3.0 technology, making it possible to deploy it without having to go through a major overhaul, dig up streets and lay fiber.
At a workshop on early DOCSIS 3.1 rollouts, Comcast Access Architecture Vice President Jorge Salinger briefly attested to the positive results that the operator has seen from its advanced market trials in select cities. Jason Miller, a technical marketing engineer at Cisco, also touted the initial work being done with the DOCSIS 3.1 technology on behalf of Midco in Fargo, N.D. Midco has plans to roll out gigabit speeds to its customers by the end of 2017.
DOCSIS 3.1 is obviously ready and deployable, but it requires operation adjustments, training and speed testing, said Salinger. Cable operators will have to make adjustments in installation and maintenance in order to implement 3.1. Another key difference about the jump from 3.0 to 3.1 is the new technology is set at higher modulations–meaning it allows for faster upstream and downstream speeds, and the new modulation profiles allow for communication to different cable modems. The process involved in setting up these modulation profiles, which help to get the most optimal performance out of the network, can be very time consuming and tedious, but Salinger said that tools are being created to automate the process in the near future. Software automation will help reset modulation profiles several times a day, a huge step up from manual labor and one towards maximum efficiency.
The exhibit hall at the Cable-Tec Expo featured a variety of technology vendors working closely with operators and offering compliant DOCSIS 3.1 products. Among those was ARRIS, which has long been involved in the development of DOCSIS 3.1 specifications. ARRIS had several new 3.1 customer devices on display that offer multi-gigabit speeds, and Internet of Things connectivity for sensors and alarms. Huawei, a networking and telecommunications equipment company, displayed a DOCSIS 3.1 product that enables operators to transform their video and broadband services through faster downstream rates, allowing for a better quality UHDTV experience and to be better prepared to launch next-generation video platforms. Casa Systems, a provider of network solutions for ultra-broadband service, also debuted solutions that delivered DOCSIS 3.1 features, which will help providers offer gigabit and data services and broadcast video.
The future of internet and technology is already here, and it includes 4K TV, virtual reality, High Dynamic Range, and the rise of TV Everywhere, to name a few. More and more streaming and downloading of this advanced and rich data will require even more bandwidth and faster internet speeds. That’s where DOCSIS 3.1 steps in to help operators bring the ultimate experience to consumers everywhere. As was noted at the Cable Tec-Expo, implementation challenges are being addressed at this early stage, but the technology is already making waves, transforming communities and businesses and better connecting us in more efficient ways than ever.