4K off, Google Fiber: Comcast, Broadcom tout 2Gbps cable

Assuming streaming sites can keep up

By this time next year, we should be able to stream 4K video over home cable internet connections. That's according to Comcast, which has promised a gigabit-broadband service using a modem designed by Broadcom.

The BCM93390 modem includes "the world's first DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem system-on-a-chip," referring to the new standard formally approved in October 2013 and which passed interoperability tests last month.

Comcast will offer the modem to its customers sometime in 2015, we're told, and "provide even faster, more reliable data speeds and features such as IP video to our subscribers' homes by harnessing more spectrum in the downstream," said VP Tony Werner in a canned statement.

It's not just Comcast and Broadcom looking to bring super-fast access to people. Intel and STMicroelectronics are also working furiously on new chips that met the DOCSIS 3.1 standard and they will quickly make themselves into modems across the market.

The standard itself was developed at record speed as cable companies started to worry about the arrival of competitors, such as Google Fiber. In theory, DOCSIS 3.1 will enable 10Gbps down and 1Gbps up over existing cable, but in reality the average household with a new modem can expect up to 2Gbps, which is still four times faster than the fastest fiber service offered by most cable companies and 40 times faster than the current "Extreme" service that Comcast offers.

Although neither Broadcom nor Comcast are providing rollout details, industry experts have estimated that late summer or fall is the most likely release date for customer-ready modems. Comcast has said it will release pricing details nearer the time.

Broadcom has released some specs for its new modem however, including: two OFDM 196 MHz downstream channels; 32 single-carrier DOCSIS 3.0 QAM downstream channels; two 96MHz OFDM-A upstream channels; 5G Wi-Fi for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz; and eight single-carrier DOCSIS 3.0 QAM upstream channels.

All of which basically means: extremely fast internet, in theory. ®

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