Without naming names, CableLabs dropped the news Tuesday that six vendors successfully completed the very first DOCSIS 3.1 interoperability test. The interop session was held during the first week of December and included prototype products from cable modem, CCAP and test and measurement equipment providers.
CableLabs emphasized that the event demonstrated successful transmissions across data channels both wider and higher-efficiency than those supported by DOCSIS 3.0 equipment. Those advantages, which are baked into the 3.1 spec, should enable massive speed and capacity increases on cable networks.
"The success of this first DOCSIS 3.1 interop validates that multi-Gigabit services will soon be a reality for cable broadband customers," said CableLabs Chief Research and Development Officer Tom Lookabaugh in a statement.
The cable industry has made rapid progress with DOCSIS 3.1 since CableLabs introduced the specification only 14 months ago. It's expected that the first DOCSIS 3.1 modems will be ready for trials by the beginning of next year, and that headend equipment trials will likely follow in 2016.
Cable operators are anxious to push the technology forward because it should help them stay competitive against service providers delivering fiber to the home. DOCSIS 3.1 is promising higher capacity over existing networks, greater speeds up to 10 Gbit/s downstream and 1 Gbit/s upstream, improved quality of experience, greater energy efficiency and backward compatibility with legacy equipment. (See DOCSIS 3.1: What's Next?.)
It's unknown who participated in the first DOCSIS 3.1 interop, but industry heavyweight Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) said in October that it would skip the December event, in favor of joining a second interop scheduled for mid-January. The delay in testing doesn't mean Arris is behind its competitors. The company already showed off a DOCSIS 3.1 demonstration at the September SCTE Cable Tec-Expo event with its E6000 CCAP chassis and pre-production chipsets from Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and STMicroelectronics NV (NYSE: STM). Arris claims the demo showed that its existing CCAP hardware will be capable of supporting DOCSIS 3.1 in the downstream with only a software update. (See CableLabs Slates DOCSIS 3.1 Testing and Arris Preps First Live DOCSIS 3.1 Demo.)
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading