Looking Beyond Docsis 3.0

DENVER -- Cable Next-Gen Broadband Strategies -- The "Father of the Cable Modem" praised the cable industry's Docsis 3.0 spec as a "truly impressive technology," but Rouzbeh Yassini of YAS Broadband Ventures warns that broadband capacity requirements will eventually outstrip it.

Yassini, speaking Tuesday at Light Reading's second annual Cable Next-Gen Broadband Strategies event, said the cable industry should focus on a few key areas, including faster upstream speeds and improving the user interface for broadband services and applications.

"We are truly blessed to have Docsis 3.0," said Yassini. "But it's not going to be the ultimate answer to network capacity."

Docsis 3.0, a CableLabs platform that uses channel bonding techniques to produce shared speeds in excess of 100 Mbit/s, does provide a critical boost for cable, given growing consumer demand for Internet video and file-sharing. In the U.S., Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has led the way by getting more than 30 percent of its network enabled for Docsis 3.0. Comcast expects to push that to 65 percent by year's end and complete the job by the end of 2010. (See Comcast Sets Wideband Goal , Comcast Sub Growth Weakens in Q4 , and Comcast Widens Wideband Footprint .)

Yassini also said the upstream limitations of the Docsis platform need to be fixed, a common sentiment here at the event. Other technology options include fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) technologies like Radio Frequency Over Glass (RFoG), an up-and-coming Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) standard, and passive optical networking (PON) technologies, both of which promise to help address cable's future bandwidth demands. (See RFOG Comes Rolling In and SCTE Moves on RFOG.)

Yet even with the talk about moving beyond Docsis 3.0, Yassini acknowledged that the spec should fit the bill for several years. "It's "a great technology... a technology that will go on for five, six, seven, or even eight years.

"What we need now is a digital platform with a good constant bit rate, good services and applications, and a good user interface. At the end of the day, it's got to be about the quality of services."

Yassini, by the way, isn't crazy about cable's move toward monthly consumption caps and metered broadband business models. (See Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB, and TWC Tees Up More Meters , and Rogers Takes Internet Meter to the Masses.)

"Negative punishment is always a bad thing," he said, noting that MSOs should instead carefully scrutinize the behavior of customers and determine what they would be willing to pay for access to more advanced features.

"If you put in caps, a good business guy is going to come around and offer something better to that consumer."

— Michael Hopkins, Special to Cable Digital News

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