Comcast Leads DOCSIS 4.0 and Extended 3.1 Rollouts in 2023

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In a dynamic year for the cable industry, Comcast took center stage with the successful launch of DOCSIS 4.0, surpassing its commitment to be in the market by the second half of 2023. Unveiling a groundbreaking symmetrical multi-gig service boasting speeds of up to 2 Gbps, Comcast initially introduced this innovation in Colorado Springs, followed by Atlanta and Philadelphia. While plans for a nationwide DOCSIS 4.0 rollout in 2023 are in the pipeline, specific markets remain undisclosed.

Jeff Heynen of Dell’Oro Group emphasized the significance of Comcast’s advancements, noting that the initial deployments occurred in its node+0 footprint, characterized by a “fiber to the tap architecture.” Comcast’s advocacy for full duplex (FDX) DOCSIS 4.0, utilizing noise cancellation for simultaneous upstream and downstream traffic over 1.2GHz of spectrum, sets it apart from competitors like Cox and Charter, who lean towards the extended spectrum (ESD) approach.

Heynen anticipates that the true test of FDX’s capabilities will be Comcast’s deployment of DOCSIS 4.0 in more traditional node+6 environments, where amplifier cascades average six amps between the node and subscribers.

Notably, Comcast wasn’t alone in embracing DOCSIS 4.0 in 2023. Mediacom, another FDX supporter, initiated the rollout of symmetrical gig and multi-gig services in Des Moines this month.

In parallel, an intriguing development this year was the rapid evolution of extended DOCSIS 3.1. This system, which allows operators to use a 3.1 cable modem termination system (CMTS) with a DOCSIS 4.0 modem, achieves speeds of up to 8 Gbps. Operators are considering extending DOCSIS 3.1 as a strategic move to delay the full-scale transition to an end-to-end DOCSIS 4.0 system, with Heynen predicting that 2024 will witness a surge in operators committing to this technology.

While no operator has publicly announced plans to adopt extended DOCSIS 3.1 so far, Heynen foresees that 2024 will be a pivotal year, marked by operators embracing the technology to leverage additional OFDM channels and the resulting speed boosts for customers.

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