CableLabs completes Full Duplex DOCSIS specs for 10/10Gbps cable broadband

CableLabs has announced completing the specs of its DOCSIS technology's next iteration, which could enable 10Gbps symmetrical speeds across hybrid fibre-coaxial broadband networks.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

International telecommunications research and development organisation CableLabs has announced completing its specifications for Full Duplex Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS), which would enable hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) broadband speeds of 10Gbps down and 10Gbps up.

According to CableLabs, Full Duplex DOCSIS "significantly increases upstream capacity and enables symmetric multi-gigabit services" across HFC services, with the uptake of higher-bandwidth services worldwide driving the need to increase network capacity.

The upgrade to Full Duplex DOCSIS -- which CableLabs said "eliminates the need and cost" of deploying fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) networks -- utilises a combination of DOCSIS 3.1 technology, self-interference cancelling technology, passive HFC networks, and intelligent scheduling.

"In the United States, more than 90 percent of households are connected to an HFC network, and consumers typically have higher download speeds than upload speeds," CableLabs CEO Phil McKinney said.

"By enabling Full Duplex DOCSIS, the upstream and downstream traffic can flow at up to 10 gigabits concurrently, doubling the efficiency of spectrum use."

In comparison, the previous generation of DOCSIS 3.1 enables 10/1Gbps speeds, as spectrum is split between upstream and downstream traffic.

"Full-duplex communication enables upstream and downstream traffic to efficiently use the same spectrum simultaneously, which can be beneficial for residential and business services," CableLabs explained.

Nokia's Bell Labs had in May attained 7.5Gbps symmetrical speeds of Full Duplex DOCSIS using its XG-CABLE proof-of-concept technology during a lab test.

"XG-CABLE can easily integrate into the CableLabs new Full Duplex DOSCIS 3.1 concept," Nokia said.

"By leveraging the XG-CABLE technology, operators can effectively use existing HFC cables over the last 200 metres to provide upstream speeds never before achievable due to the limited spectrum available."

At the time, Nokia added that it was looking to improve the echo cancellation to allow for 10/10Gbps speeds on HFC.

Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) company, which partners with Nokia on networking technology, earlier this year cemented its commitment to implementing gigabit-speed upgrades on the cable portion of its network by joining the CableLabs consortium.

NBN in April said it would collaborate on bringing DOCSIS 3.1 and Full Duplex DOCSIS to market with CableLabs members Comcast and Cox Communications from the United States; European and American giant Liberty Global; Japan's Jupiter Telecom; Canada's Shaw Communications and Rogers Communications; and Vodafone Germany.

In return, McKinney said the organisation would support NBN's DOCSIS 3.1 deployment.

In August, NBN then announced that it is aiming to launch DOCSIS 3.1 at the end of next year after completing trials scheduled to take place in February 2018.

The HFC network is being upgraded by Arris, which originally partnered with NBN back in 2015, with the news following NBN CEO Bill Morrow telling ZDNet that DOCSIS 3.1 would see a "gradual rollout".

Arris president of Network, Cloud, and Services Dan Whalen said Arris will be trialling Full Duplex DOCSIS, with possible full-scale deployments across the globe in 2019.

"Next generation, maybe end of 2018 or 2019, we'll start introducing devices that reside in those nodes that are capable of supporting Full Duplex DOCSIS, and that's where you really get into offering symmetrical gigabit services to the home, and you don't need to go and dig up the cable into the home," Whalen said.

Whalen told ZDNet that Arris is currently in talks with NBN on the Full Duplex upgrade during this time frame.

"We're already in discussions with NBN on Full Duplex DOCSIS and what the requirements would be and when the timing is," he said.

"I would say if it was available today, NBN would be wanting to deploy it today, or work with us in deploying it in some very targeted environments ... those timelines are about right."

DOCSIS 3.1 modems, or network terminating devices (NTDs), are already in the homes of those with NBN HFC connections, with NBN's executive manager of corporate media Tony Brown saying NBN now needs to update the line cards in the cable modem termination systems (CMTS) and upgrade the software.

More changes will be needed during the future upgrade to Full Duplex DOCSIS, although the CMTS will remain the same.

"There's a number of architectural changes -- distributed access, where you start taking some of the processing power that exists in the head end today and putting it into a device that resides closer to the homes and subscribers inside of a node ... that has to happen first to enable that transition from analogue optics to digital optics," Whalen explained.

"The new investment will be that remote device that exists inside of the node, and then some of the changes that happen between in the optics."

NBN in June announced attaining download speeds of 1Gbps and upload speeds of 100Mbps during a lab trial of DOCSIS 3.1.

FttP is currently the only NBN technology able to offer 1Gbps speeds until DOCSIS 3.1 is switched on for HFC customers next year, after being delayed from launching in the second half of 2017.

According to NBN's Corporate Plan 2018-21, 3.1 million Australian premises will be connected with HFC, while 1.9 million premises get FttP, 4.6 million get fibre to the node (FttN) or fibre to the basement (FttB), 1 million get fibre to the curb (FttC), 600,000 get fixed-wireless, and 400,000 get satellite.

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