Beating last's year bold prediction for an end-of-2013 delivery date, CableLabs said today that the new Docsis 3.1 specification will be publicly issued by the end of this month.
Speaking at a Docsis 3.1 Engineering Symposium today held in advance of the annual SCTE Cable-Tec EXPO, CableLabs director Matthew Schmitt said that not only will the new Docsis spec be available sooner than expected, but it will also meet all the industry's objectives for the specification upgrade. Specifically, Docsis 3.1 (D3.1) will offer higher bandwidth capacity, a significant reduction in cost per bit delivered, an effective migration strategy from previous Docsis specs, and the ability to operate new technology on current HFC networks.
Cable operators are also optimistic about the timeline for Docsis 3.1 deployments. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) vice president Jorge Salinger said in a panel discussion at the symposium today that, based on the D3.1 discussions to which he's been privy, he believes cable companies "should put it in the budget for 15."
Jeff Finkelstein, executive director of strategic architecture at Cox Communications Inc. , said the timeline is really up to the silicon vendors, but he emphasized that his company is willing to do "anything we can do to help."
Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) senior vice president Howard Pfeffer said D3.1 deployments are expected to start with new modems and gateways, followed by integrations with CCAP devices. Vendors have been heavily involved in the creation of D3.1. That fact and backward compatibility with earlier Docsis versions should help speed the new technology to market. (See Docsis 3.1 Stays on a Fast Track.)
The new Docsis spec is designed to increase spectral efficiency by 50 percent, in part through the use of orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing and in part through a new forward error correction technique enabling higher-order modulations. There are significant advantages for upstream and downstream bandwidth delivery.
An audience member at the symposium made it clear that he's concerned, not only with efficiency, but also with the need to acquire more spectrum to take advantage of D3.1. Finkelstein responded by suggesting a bandwidth reclamation path that includes continued migration from analog to digital signals, the weeding out of standard-definition video channels, and the conversion of more high-definition channels to switched digital video.
Another audience member asked why the new Docsis spec is being dubbed 3.1, rather than Docsis 4.0. Tongue firmly in cheek, Finkelstein answered, "Obviously, so the next version of Docsis can be Docsis 3.14."
— Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable