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DOCSIS 3.1 Still Rules the Cable Roost

Alan Breznick

Even though most major North American cable operators have now rolled out DOCSIS 3.1 to most, if not all, of their regions, the gigabit-enabling broadband spec is still viewed as the industry's most important tech upgrade to carry out over the coming year.

In the latest poll of the Light Reading community, DOCSIS 3.1 emerged as cable's top tech priority right now, earning votes from just over 21% of the 1,279 survey takers. As a result, D3.1 narrowly beat out both Distributed Access Architecture (DAA) and fiber-to-the-home (FTTH). That's largely consistent with similar reader polls conducted on both the Light Reading and Broadband World News sites over the last several years, indicating that D3.1 still packs plenty of punch even as the industry turns its attention to more advanced specs like Full Duplex DOCSIS.

Implementing DAA came in a strong second place in the reader poll, clocking in at 20% of the survey sample, as cable operators around the world move ahead with field trials and early commercial deployments of both the Remote PHY and Remote MAC/PHY approaches to distributed access networks. That's also consistent with the results of most of our recent readership polls on the subject.

Building new FTTH networks ranked a close third in the LR reader poll, drawing nearly 16% of the votes. Once again, that largely jibes with the results from the past few years, as both smaller operators and major MSOs like Altice USA eschew incremental HFC network upgrades to develop and deploy all-fiber architectures.

Extending fiber deeper into the HFC network came in fourth, drawing votes from almost 12% of the respondents. That may seem surprisingly low, given the cable industry's recent focus on ambitious fiber-upgrade initiatives like Fiber Deep. But, taking the last two survey results together, it means that more than one fourth of survey takers, or 28%, see adding more fiber to the cable diet as the most important tech initiative for the industry this year.

Why this matters
What these poll results show is that cable operators still have a very full plate of tech initiatives to consider and carry out as they gear up for the 5G era. Even as they complete their extensive rollouts of DOCSIS 3.1, they must pivot quickly to make their networks faster, smarter, more powerful and more efficient if they wish to compete and thrive in the 2020s and beyond.

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— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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5/6/2019 | 10:58:28 AM
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