The cable industry is experiencing an exciting period of change. Last year CableLabs revealed the new DOCSIS 3.1 specification, calling it a roadmap for “a new generation of DOCSIS technology”. The quick development from concept to reality has meant that we can expect to see prototypes ready for testing this year.
So what does this mean for you? While DOCSIS 3.1 devices won’t be on the market immediately, you can look forward to a number of new advantages. DOCSIS 3.1 is faster and enables greater capacity than its predecessor, supporting up to 50% more data throughput over the same spectrum and delivering 10 gigabits per second downstream alongside one gigabit per second upstream. DOCSIS 3.1 will replace 6MHz-wide channels with superwide channels made of smaller subcarriers based on orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM). A flexible migration strategy means that legacy versions will be able to co-exist with the new protocol to enable incremental deployment, based on market demand.
DOCSIS 3.1 isn’t the only coax-based delivery mechanism out there. The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) is developing the EPON Protocol over Coax (EPoC) standard, which is expected to be published in August. Chinese, and more recently, North American cable operators have been interested in EPoC because of its promise of faster speeds — up to 10 gigabits per second in each direction (not just downstream, like DOCSIS 3.1). China has helped drive this development, with triple-play services in the country increasing the need for standards-based solutions. Currently, major telcos dominate China’s broadband industry and cable technologies revolve around Ethernet over Coax (EoC) platforms. These enable Chinese cable operators to deliver two-way voice and broadband services to residential customers but the development of EPoC could prove more competitive.
Whichever standard you feel compelled to deploy in the future, rest assured that we’ll be testing these in our labs well ahead of time to make sure that we can support them.
Stay tuned — 2014 is shaping up to be a big year for cable technology!