DOCSIS 4.0 technology is a next-generation high-bandwidth standard for HFC networks that is designed to improve speed, reliability, and capacity. The technology can boost speeds by using OFDMA (Optically Fractional Digital Modulation) and Full Duplex (FDX).
Unlike its predecessor, DOCSIS 3.1, DOCSIS 4.0 includes full duplex capability, enabling cable companies to deliver multi-gigabit symmetrical speeds. It also features link aggregation support and better wireless capabilities.
DOCSIS 4.0 is a hybrid fiber-coaxial network evolution. Historically, coaxial cable was used to send media to televisions. Today, the cable companies are competing against fiber-to-the-home providers for subscribers. To meet the increasing demands of consumers, cable network operators need to upgrade their networks to offer faster, more reliable broadband.
How Fast Will DOCSIS 4.0 Be?
Currently, the fastest internet speeds offered by most cable companies are around 1 Gbps downstream. However, DOCSIS 4.0 is expected to reach up to 60 Gbps downstream.
In order to upgrade to DOCSIS 4.0, cable companies will need to replace all the equipment installed at customer premises. This includes all of the power taps, network amplifiers, and cable modems. This will increase the cost of the upgrade.
According to Cable One, the primary driver of cost is labor. Although this upgrade will be costlier than fiber upgrades, it is not an impossible goal. DOCSIS 4.0 is a cost-effective alternative to overbuilding a cable network with fiber.
DOCSIS 4.0 will be introduced in two flavors. The Extended-Spectrum flavor will increase the frequency range of the network to 1.8GHz, minimizing interference and improving throughputs.
The FDX flavor will use a lower range of downstream frequencies. This variant is necessary to provide a symmetrical service, which means that each user receives an equal amount of traffic. This will require a significant upgrade to the optical node.
When Will DOCSIS 4.0 Come Out?
Comcast has already begun testing the DOCSIS 4.0 standard and is set to release the first-ever DOCSIS 4.0 modems in 2020. In October, the company made the first end-to-end DOCSIS 4.0 test link.
The modem’s maximum frequency range was increased during the trial to 1.8 GHz. This higher speed allows for higher throughputs and less interference. It also supports a wider variety of devices, including IoT devices. In addition, DOCSIS 4.0 can be used to reduce latency to just one millisecond.
The higher upstream and downstream speeds are ideal for scenarios that need fast Internet connections, such as streaming high-definition movies and videos, gaming, and video conferences. The FDX version of DOCSIS 4.0 will increase upstream bandwidth by six gigabits, while the Extended Spectrum flavor will increase upstream and downstream bandwidth to a combined total of 1.8 GHz.
DOCSIS 4.0 will soon become the network standard. DOCSIS 3.1 has yet to gain wider adoption, so it’s possible that most users will only see a moderately improved speed. In addition, DOCSIS 4.0 will add new capabilities that weren’t previously part of DOCSIS 3.1. This includes lower latency, better security, and more symmetrical internet services.
DOCSIS 4.0 will be a great step in the right direction for cable companies. The upcoming technology will help them compete with fiber-to-the-home network providers and ensure that they have the bandwidth to support future needs.
DOCSIS 4.0 is expected to launch in consumer networks in late 2024 or 2025. It is also expected that Arris will introduce gateway devices with DOCSIS 4.0 technology in 2022.