By: Kevin Fitzpatrick
Director of Architecture for Cable Broadband with Connected Home
North American cable operators have their sights on DOCSIS 3.1, the next-gen broadband standard that will deliver ultra-high bandwidth and Internet speeds of 1 Gbps and improve operational efficiencies. While operators face a range of challenges as they upgrade – around legacy equipment, increased competition from telco providers’ fiber, 5G and LTE initiatives, as well as uneven demand within their markets – Technicolor is helping the operators manage their migrations with products, services and support.
DOCSIS 3.1 will help alleviate increased demand for bandwidth and speed that’s coming both from developers creating new bandwidth-hungry apps and services like virtual reality (VR), and the consumers who want to use those applications and still get high speed and quality performance. DOCSIS 3.1 provides the ability to deliver data download speeds of 10 Gbps and upload speeds approaching 2 Gbps over existing hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) lines because the new technology uses spectrum much more efficiently, delivers more data capacity, offers higher network efficiency, and improves network responsiveness by stemming packet loss and lowering latency. These are all characteristics that are vital for ensuring that consumers receive a high Quality of Experience (QoE) – especially when it comes to offering gaming and immersive media services.
While the technology is backward compatible with DOCSIS 3.0., moving to DOCSIS 3.1 will require a significant investment, and cable operators will need to plan their migration accordingly. Most operators seem to be leaning towards pursuing a smooth – rather than a sudden and hard – migration strategy. This means most cable operators will have to manage dual offerings of both DOCSIS 3.0 and DOCSIS 3.1 for the foreseeable future.
In talking with our customers, those moving most aggressively to DOCSIS 3.1 report plans to engage in test and trials with their high-end clients over the next few months, and plan to roll out services in the next year or so. The rest have indicated that they expect DOCSIS 3.1 to become standard in their infrastructures within a two-to-three-year timeframe.
Technicolor has been working closely with cable operators to match their new CPE needs to their evolving implementation plans, educating them on the technical nuances of DOCSIS 3.1 while providing training on how best to deploy devices and services. Technicolor’s DOCSIS 3.1 cable gateways and cable modems include automatic switchable diplexers to ensure seamless DOCSIS 3.0 to DOCSIS 3.1 transitions.
Technicolor is also offering products that extend beyond broadband technology, including the Wi-Fi Doctor solution, which gives cable operators the diagnostic tools they need to remotely troubleshoot and remedy networking problems inside their customers’ homes, in real time. When combined with Technicolor’s DOCSIS 3.1 products and services, cable operators will be able to deploy a comprehensive suite of solutions that that ties the entire infrastructure together -- from the broadband network all the way into the home network.