Cable Tech

Cable One plots path to DOCSIS 4.0

Cable One shed some light on its network upgrade plans this week, announcing that DOCSIS 4.0 – and a move to symmetrical multi-gigabit speeds – will play a starring role in that evolution.

Tied to a broader plan focused on "10G," Cable One said it is preparing for the future launch of DOCSIS 4.0, including upgrades to the network return path that enable symmetrical, multi-gigabit speeds. Beneath that, Cable One intends to push fiber deeper into the network, reclaim spectrum used today for traditional linear TV, and upgrade its hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) plant to 1.8GHz.

If that scenario plays out and Cable One does upgrade capacity to 1.8GHz, it's pretty clear that Cable One is pursuing Extended Spectrum DOCSIS (ESD), one of two approaches for DOCSIS 4.0.

The ESD flavor of DOCSIS 4.0 envisions a plant built out to 1.8GHz that continues to keep upstream and downstream traffic running in separate, dedicated spectrum. The other D4.0 option, Full Duplex DOCSIS (FDX), envisions HFC networks built to 1.2GHz and the use of an FDX band that allows upstream and downstream traffic to occupy the same block of spectrum. Comcast is considered the primary champion of FDX.

Cable One's pursuit of DOCSIS 4.0, a technology that's designed to deliver as much as 10 Gbit/s downstream by 6 Gbit/s in the upstream, ties into a broader initiative called 10G. 10G is focused on symmetrical 10-Gig speeds, low latencies and enhanced security that can be delivered on multiple access networks (HFC, fiber-to-the-premises and even wireless).

Multiple access network technologies

Though Cable One's footprint is largely comprised of HFC, it, like others, has become increasingly agnostic with respect to the access network. Cable One is also employing FTTP technology (in new builds and through acquisitions) as well as fixed wireless access. Last year, Cable One invested in two fixed wireless ISPs, Wisper Internet and NextLink, viewing them as a way to help Cable One branch into less dense areas near its traditional wireline footprint.

Cable One didn't outline the expected costs of future D4.0 network upgrades, but noted that the company has shelled out more than $770 million over the past five years.

Cable One said its family of brands – Sparklight, Fidelity Communications, ValueNet Fiber and Hargray – offer 1-Gig speeds across 99% of the combined footprint.

"Gig speed is just the beginning of the story," Cable One CEO Julie Laulis said in a statement. "We are implementing the upgrades needed to our networks in order to bring multi-Gig symmetrical speeds to our residential customers in the next few years and ensure that we continue to stay well ahead of the consumer consumption curve."

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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