Comcast first to deploy DOCSIS 4.0, touts 2-gig symmetrical speeds

It’s official – Comcast is moving forward with its DOCSIS 4.0 deployment. Starting next week, Comcast customers in Colorado Springs will be able to sign up for a new line of symmetrical multi-gig service.

The so-called X-Class Internet portfolio includes speed tiers of 300 Mbps, 500 Mbps, 1-gig all the way up to 2-gig. Comcast will first roll out these plans to select neighborhoods in Colorado Springs, eventually planning to deploy DOCSIS 4.0 to the Atlanta and Philadelphia metro areas before year-end.

Earlier this year, the operator launched a symmetrical 10-gig plan for its residential fiber customers. Now, it’s bringing multi-gigabit options to its cable footprint.

Comcast Cable Chief Network Officer Elad Nafshi confirmed next week’s launch will be the first DOCSIS 4.0 deployment “anywhere in the planet.”

Moreover, Comcast is deploying these new multi-gig speeds on an end-to-end DOCSIS 4.0 system, instead of using a DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem termination system (CMTS) in a high split configuration with a DOCSIS 4.0 modem.

“This is something we’ve been working on, to turn from PowerPoint into specs into actual silicon…building the cloud capabilities to be able to service this and be able to harden the service to a point where it’s ready for customers,” Nafshi told Fierce. “That’s pretty remarkable.”

He explained customers in the announced markets will be able to get a brand-new DOCSIS 4.0 modem “that they will be able to install and leverage in order to get these new speeds.”

As for when Comcast expects to upgrade the rest of its cable footprint, Nafshi didn’t provide an exact timeline but said the company is “working very hard” to deploy DOCSIS 4.0 “as quickly as we can.”

“Progress has been very good. So now it’s making that transition from the mid split implementation to the DOCSIS 4.0 electronic upgrade,” he said. “And that’s what we’ll be working on over the next months, to really start to scale up.”

Notably, Comcast is leveraging a full duplex (FDX) DOCSIS 4.0 method, which means it uses noise cancellation to allow upstream and downstream traffic to be transmitted over the same 1.2GHz spectrum.

Other cable players, such as Charter, are opting for the extended spectrum (ESD) variant, which increases spectrum to 1.8GHz and divides it into dedicated chunks for upstream and downstream traffic flows.

“For the very first time, not only is this an end-to-end 4.0 delivery, but we’re also able to get around the whole split argument right, mid split, high split, ultra high split,” Nafshi said. “This is leveraging DOCSIS 4.0 FDX. [Without needing to move the split], we’re able to launch the two gigabit symmetrical services.”

While speed is a key component of the new multi-gig offerings, he also noted Comcast is “setting a whole new bar in terms of what reliability is” – figuring out how to improve the network’s service in real time.

“Speed always gets the headline right, and don’t get me wrong, 2-gig symmetrical on our coaxial network is one of those transformational moments,” he said. “But the reliability that we’re able to get, the service visibility and the AI that runs this architecture are truly transformational and what gets me excited.”