NCTA — The Internet & Television Association

Pandemic or Not, 10G is Coming

Pandemic or Not, 10G is Coming

10G

When the COVID-19 pandemic first forced Americans into their homes beginning in March, millions of people turned to the internet to try to continue any sort of semblance of their lives. America's cable broadband providers were responsible for keeping their networks running at full capacity as internet traffic surged and more people than ever before connected online. Fortunately, the investment in upgrading and building out their networks over the past two decades is paying off during America's time of need, and even as we speak, cable ISPs are focused on the future and bringing 10G to U.S. homes to enhance connectivity and prepare for whatever the next decade might bring. Pandemic or not, ISPs are constantly staying ahead of consumer demand and technological advancements, and 10G is the industry's commitment to provide fast and reliable networks that will enable everything from high-definition gaming, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, 4k streaming and more as each year introduces new and immersive digital experiences for consumers.  

In a Q&A with NCTA, Curtis Knittle, CableLabs vice president of wired technologies research and development, further explained what 10G means for the cable industry and consumers, and how ISPs are transforming existing infrastructure to reach the ultra-fast speeds and capacity that 10G will provide.   

Curtis Knittle
Curtis Knittle, CableLabs Vice President of Wired Technology Research and Development

Many ISPs are now offering 1 gig, what will it take to go from here to 5 gig, then to 10 gig?

We are already seeing cable modems with the ability to support 5 Gbps peak downstream capacity! The latest DOCSIS 3.1 cable modems submitted to CableLabs for testing have already demonstrated 5 Gbps in the downstream direction. 

The cable industry is on a path to provide even higher download and upload speeds with the recently released DOCSIS 4.0 technology, which is currently designed to provide capacities of 10 Gbps downstream and 6 Gbps upstream. With the increased upstream capacity, cable operators will soon have the tools to offer even higher multi-gigabit symmetric services over cable networks. 
 
What is latency and why will the low-latency that 10G provides matter to consumers?

Network latency, also known as delay, is the common term for the total time it takes for a short message to make it across a network from a sender to a receiver. Round trip latency includes the return trip time too. Just recently, DOCSIS 3.1 technology introduced a low latency capability that reduces latency over the DOCSIS network by a factor of 10 or more. For consumers, high bandwidth coupled with low latency generally improves the quality of experience – web pages load faster, video conferencing quality improves, telemedicine experiences become possible, and latency can make the difference between living or dying in that online, multiplayer game that gamers love to play. The Near Future videos are an excellent way to imagine the services and capabilities that become possible with higher speed and lower latencies. 

How is the cable industry's move to 10G different than the wireless industry's move to 5G?

Whereas 5G is about the evolving generation of wireless/mobile technologies, the cable industry's 10G Platform initiative is related to evolving the wired network infrastructure to support 10x higher speeds than are available today, lower latencies, improved reliability, and better security. Because the 10x higher speeds are from the perspective of the end user, the aggregation portion of the network must be capable of aggregating much more traffic than ever before. This makes the 10G Platform perfectly suited to backhaul traffic from 5G networks. In this sense, 10G and 5G are very complimentary and synergistic.
 
What kind of applications will 10G speeds make possible in the future? 

This is indeed a difficult question to answer! While some examples are provided above, the best way to view the 10G Platform is to recognize what might be the most important byproduct of 10G: innovation. Present-day applications and companies like Netflix, Uber, and others were not necessarily conceived before the network could handle their requirements. It was the other way around – these ideas and resulting companies were conceived once the network was capable of providing the capacity and latency required by them. The network was the enabler and the catalyst for new ideas. 10G will be the enabler and catalyst of the next generation of applications and companies that will take advantage of what the 10G Platform provides.