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Cable Broadband in 2025: DOCSIS 4.0 Could Raise Speeds as High as 60/60 Gbps

Phillip Dampier May 24, 2018 Broadband Speed, Consumer News 6 Comments

The next standard for cable broadband is due around 2025.

Just as the cable industry is widely introducing gigabit download speed supported by DOCSIS 3.1 technology, cable engineers are working on a way to boost upload and download speeds to as high as 60 Gbps (60,000 Mbps) starting as soon as 2025.

According to a new article in Light Reading, DOCSIS 4.0 (or DOCSIS.Next) represents a transformational leap of cable broadband technology. Jeff Finklestein, Cox Communications’ executive director of advanced technology, claims the next major broadband update will be able to use at least 3 GHz of RF spectrum available on existing coaxial cable for high-speed internet. That is more than twice the 1.2 GHz that being used by some cable systems for today’s DOCSIS 3.1 (and the 1.8 GHz that will be needed to support DOCSIS 3.1 FD, which will allow operators to dramatically boost upload speeds by 2020.)

Designed for the next decade, DOCSIS 4.0 will support 30/30 Gbps speed (or 60/60 Gbps if an operator is willing to dedicate up to 6 GHz for broadband). Today’s coaxial cable networks can use up to 10 GHz of RF spectrum in all, with some compromises and allowances to deal with possible signal ingress and other types of interference.

By the time DOCSIS 4.0 arrives, many cable operators will not mind delivering the majority of their available spectrum to broadband, because most are expected to eventually deliver a single broadband stream that collectively supports IPTV, digital phone, and broadband service.

Finklestein

To make the next generation of cable broadband possible, cable systems will likely need to reduce the amount of copper coaxial cable in their networks and push fiber optics deeper into neighborhoods. The more optical fiber the better — the technology is not hampered by coaxial cable’s limitations and degradation.

Engineers are also likely to shift away from DOCSIS 3.1’s orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) modulation and use advanced wave form technology instead.

While engineers are excited about the project, some suspect DOCSIS 4.0 may be a tougher sell for cable industry executives, asked to invest in another transformational broadband upgrade less than ten years after DOCSIS 3.1 was introduced. Many cable operators using older cable network plants will have to spend millions on overhauls and upgrades, and there is some question about whether that kind of additional investment in a Hybrid Fiber Coax (HFC) network platform makes sense. Altice certainly does not believe so, and in 2016 elected to scrap Cablevision/Optimum’s HFC network and replace it with fiber to the home service.

As cable companies push fiber deeper into their networks, the cost of taking fiber the rest of the way to customer homes and businesses is coming down as well.

The cable industry has generally dismissed fiber to the home service as an extravagant and expensive technology to deploy, arguing cable’s HFC networks can deliver the broadband speeds that are commercially in demand today, while working on upgrades like DOCSIS 4.0 to meet consumer and business demands tomorrow, without the cost of tearing up streets to lay optical fiber.

Currently there are 6 comments on this Article:

  1. FredH says:

    …and we’ll be able to reach our 1TB monthly cap in a few minutes.

  2. joe says:

    LOL!!!!

  3. Limboaz says:

    I’ll take unlimited data over this kind of speed any day. Honestly, who needs 30 Gbps in their home?? I currently have 50/10 Mbps unlimited data and that is good enough for me. I’ll be switching to the Century Link 100/10 Simple plan once my contract with Cox expires in December. The price will go from $80 to $65/month. Not bad for 100 Mbps and no cap.
    Some company is putting in all kinds of fiber in the area surrounding our home. They are digging up streets and drilling with ditch witches all over the place. I would love to know who it is.

  4. Paul Houle says:

    I have this funny feeling that Frontier is still going to have 1 Mbps DSL is 2025 if
    they are still in business.

  5. Ian Littman says:

    After doing some back of the envelope math, looks like they’re expecting twelve bits per Hz efficiency out of DOCSIS 4.0, across 10 GHz of spectrum, 5 GHz in each direction. By contrast, you’re sitting at around 9 bits per Hz for DOCSIS 3.1, and either 5 or 6.33 for DOCSIS 2/3.0, depending on whether you’re looking at downloads or uploads. Yes, you can hit that kind of spectral efficiency with LTE, but I don’t believe you have the spatial dimension to play with on coax at all.

    Spectral efficiency hand-waving aside, it took seven or eight years to go from a few DOCSIS channels on the download side (unbonded) and one narrow upload channel to the DOCSIS 3.1 down, 4-channel-up setups we have now…and the majority of those upgrades didn’t necessarily require increasing the amount of spectrum the plant was required to support. You could just reclaim analog channels to make room for DOCSIS carriers, though you did have to clean up the upstream path a bit to allow for upload speeds in excess of 5 Mbps.

    But the fact remains that, if you had a 750 MHz cable system in 2008, you can still have one in 2018 and deliver service provisioned at 1.2 Gbps down, 45 Mbps up. D3.1 FDX, let alone 4.0, throws that out, and upgrading a system to support more bandwidth, or a different transmit/receive split, is about as far from a walk in the park as you can get, particularly given the bunch of existing equipment in the field.

    Ironically, Suddenlink (now part of Altice) has done a fair amount of system upgrades on their cable plant, such that a fair chunk of it runs at 1 GHz. Probably a case of “we need to replace all this old equipment; might as well spec the new stuff right”. This allowed them to get a gigabit tier early-ish by just throwing a bunch of channels at the problem. By contrast, Spectrum has a ~750 MHz plant around here, and it’s been that way since before I got here in 2012. My bet is that the system won’t get bumped to, or beyond, 1 GHz for another two or three years. Hitting more than 1.2 GHz? $5 says no one on a US cable provider will see that before 2025.

  6. ed says:

    if their wireless service is anything like their telephone the whole company is doomed. we had qwest fronterand and century link bought different portions of the qwest company frontier employees are just downright rude. having spent time as a supver on a prision yaard id have some of them locked down you cant get a service tech to come out . i tried for 3 months when they finally came they tightened 2 connections and service was great again. my parents were dying so i went to help out and at that point a phone was a necessity
    century link charges 10 a month for a long distance connectionn which is more than the cost of the calls i make
    obvioulsy the government is indiffernt. i have turned them both in toth into the az corporation commision at various times with very limited success. im considering buying a cell phone and having my landline disconnected







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