Fiber isn’t available everywhere just yet.
You’ll be happy to learn that cable‘s DOCSIS, which hasn’t seen an upgrade since 2006, is ready to take a big step forward. Version 3.1 will offer gigabit Internet speeds, and it’s just around the corner.
This gallery describes the technology enhancement and explains to businesses and their channel partners what they need to know to prepare for it. (Hint: Not that much, really — that’s the beauty of it.)
**Source material by Kurt Marko**
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Traditional cable connections are getting more sophisticated. The evolution of DOCSIS takes another step this year as the nation’s largest cable companies start testing and rolling out DOCSIS 3.1. It’s compatible with earlier versions of the technology and allows cablecos to upgrade their infrastructure without creating headaches for customers on their premises. About all the business needs to take advantage of DOCSIS 3.1 speeds is a compatible modem.
The chart above shows steady growth in the demand for cable broadband.
CableLabs, the nonprofit organization comprising cable companies around the country, certified the first DOCSIS 3.1 modems earlier this year. Several vendors have completed successful tests for standards and compliance.
But let’s back up a moment and reflect fondly on the history of DOCSIS technology.
CableLabs developed the first iteration was in the late ‘90s as the standard for delivering high-speed data over broadcast cable networks. This standard meant CPE, test and backbone network equipment could exist cohesively; innovation could focus on a single technology road map and keep costs low. DOCSIS 3.0, the current standard, is now 10 years old and is used universally by cable operators.
DOCSIS 3.1 appeases the need for speed, increasing bandwidth without changing existing cable plants. It doesn’t work under DOCSIS 3.0 without eliminating some video programming.
Version 3.1 splits the spectrum into smaller chunks that keeps the cable operators from having to move digital video channels. DOCSIS 3.1 also improves the user experience for gaming and other real-time applications through active queue management (AQM), a quality-of-service tool that allows cablecos to prioritize packets and reduce latency.
Comcast: First live, successful field trial in Philadelphia in Dec. 2015
Time Warner Cable: Undertaking a community broadband project in Los Angeles
Cox Communications: Prepping field trials, plans for wide-scale deployment in 2017
The big cablecos are teaming up to get the word out about the DOCSIS upgrade. They’ve dubbed it “Gigasphere” — a name intended to represent the services that meet specs for 3.1.
Businesses need to keep up with what the Internet speeds their employees can get at home. Millennials, in particular, who have never known anything but a speedy connection, will balk at sluggish performance. And consider, that age group will make up half of the workforce just two years from now. Better keep them happy.
A channel partner’s plan of action should be twofold: 1. Stay in constant with the cablecos to keep up with the latest on their gigabit upgrades. 2. Let customers know that DOCSIS 3.1 is coming; they will find it attractive to get speedy Internet at a lower cost.
Despite the huge marketing push and steady growth, fiber isn’t yet available in more than half of the country.