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Gigabit-over-TV-cable spec DOCSIS 3.1 passes interop test

Saviour of Australia's National Broadband network edges closer to real-world deployment

DOCSIS 3.1, a standard designed to deliver downloads at up to 10Gbps on existing hybrid fibre-coax cable television networks, has passed an interoperability test.

The Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) standard is overseen by Cable Labs, a not-for-profit outfit that conducts research for the cable companies who fund it and fill its membership roster. Cable companies have an obvious interest in squeezing more out of their existing networks and DOCSIS 3.1 certainly does that: the standard's spec calls for download speeds of up to 10Gbps and uploads at 1Gbps, albeit over short distances.

DOCSIS last received a major revision in 2006, when version 3.0 was released and enabled 100Mbps services in many nations.

The interop test saw half a dozen makers of modems, nodes and other network kit put recently-released chip and physical layer standards to the test. Cable Labs says the tests “successfully demonstrated both higher efficiency and wider channels, which combine to make multi-Gbps speeds possible.”

Carrier-and-customer-ready DOCSIS kit is still at least months away, but Cable Labs is talking up this interoperability test as proof multi-gigabit services over existing cable TC networks are edging closer to reality.

When DOCSIS 3.1 arrives, it will put the cat among the pigeons. Few internet service providers anywhere offer gigabit services. Cable television outfits will therefore be in a position to make their broadband offerings rather compelling.

Cable Labs plans another interoperability test in January, and plans plenty more throughout 2015.

The tests will be watched especially closely in Australia, where the government-funded National Broadband Network is considering whether or not to use DOCSIS 3.1 . Community opposition to that plan has centred on any broadband rollout other than fibre-to-the-premises being retrograde and wasteful due to the likelihood of future overbuild to reach faster speeds. DOCSIS 3.1's ability to deliver gigabit connections may quiet such objections. ®

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