DOCSIS 3.1, the cable industry's great hope for widespread gigabit network upgrades, is one step closer to mainstream deployment with the announcement today that CableLabs has certified its first batch of cable modems as D3.1-compliant.
The winning companies in this certification round include Askey Inc. , CastleNet Technology Inc. , Netgear Inc. (Nasdaq: NTGR), Technicolor (Euronext Paris: TCH; NYSE: TCH) and Ubee Interactive . Not listed in the line-up is industry giant Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), which just swallowed up Pace plc and is by far the largest vendor of customer premises equipment (CPE) in the cable business. Other companies known to be testing D3.1 cable modems include Humax Co. Ltd. and Sagem. (See DOCSIS 3.1 Is Right on Schedule.)
Although no modems were officially certified for DOCSIS 3.1 until today, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) started testing the technology with field trials back in December. The giant US MSO plans to be one of the first to use the DOCSIS upgrade to support gigabit broadband speeds over legacy hybrid fiber-coax (HFC) networks beginning this year. At a CableLabs interop event last fall, a Comcast Xfinity-branded D3.1 modem by Technicolor was among those included in a demonstration roundup. (See Comcast Kicks Off D3.1 Era.)
According to CableLabs, the certification of the five D3.1 modems, which also support the prevailing DOCSIS 3.0 spec, marks the largest number of products ever approved in the first certification wave of a new DOCSIS specification. The achievement offers further evidence of the urgent timetable around DOCSIS 3.1. As telecom providers turn up the heat with new fiber-to-the-home deployments, Google Fiber Inc. continues to apply pressure in select cities and even municipalities get into the gigabit game, cable operators need an answer to the promise of higher-capacity broadband from competitors.
Even as some cable companies (including Comcast) move forward with targeted FTTH rollouts, DOCSIS 3.1 is still widely considered to be the best solution for bringing gigabit Internet to a widespread cable audience.
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading