CableLabs' Doug Jones says DOCSIS has a long life ahead

ATLANTADOCSIS technology has been a huge hit with cable customers and a big revenue driver for the cable industry, and despite competition from the likes of fiber it still has a long shelf life ahead.

While distributed access architecture (DAA) was the focus of Monday's preconference session ahead of Cable-Tec Expo 2018, CableLabs Principal Engineer Doug Jones said that DOCSIS and hybrid fiber-coax (HFC) will both play key roles going forward in the cable industry. 

"I think that over the next 10 years we'll continue to mine more capacity out of that coax," Jones said. "The distributed CCAP architecture helps get there, again with that end of line improvement [in RF]. There's a lot of work yet we can do, a lot of capacity we can get yet out of the coax.

"Even three years ago there was a lot of talk about PON, but now the focus is back on the coax and getting multi-Gigabit out of the coax. The DOCSIS of technology is not out of gas in any way, shape, or form. There's a lot more that we're going to get out of this over the next decade. And stay tuned as we continue to evolve our technology, our coaxial technology."

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Jones said that DOCSIS 3.1 has made 1 Gigabit services pervasive in North America and that 3.1 was capable of up to 10 Gbps on the downstream and 1 Gbps on the upstream. The next step is making Gigabit services symmetrical using Full Duplex DOCSIS, Jones said.

"We've got multi-Gigabit on the downstream and now we're going to be focusing on multi-Gigabit on the upstream so that cable can begin with those Gigabit symmetric data tiers," he said. "The upstream has as much potential as the downstream and we're going be working to unlock that potential of the coax. The specs are in great shape for Full Duplex DOCSIS.

"We're working now with the suppliers. With the chip suppliers, the system suppliers, we're all very busy at CableLabs. Actually, we're even looking beyond 1 gigahertz, but let's not go there yet, that could be next year."

Jones said 2019 would be the year of interops at CableLabs, with interoperability testing to take place at CableLabs' every month except for February and October. In addition to the Full Duplex DOCSIS interops, Jones said CableLabs would also conduct mobile backhaul interops and low-latency DOCSIS interops

"Every other month there will be a Full Duplex DOCSIS interop planned at CableLabs and that just dovetails with the distributed CCAP architecture since they go hand in hand," Jones said. We're working with the test equipment suppliers to create sniffers and analyzers and in general more tools for Full Duplex DOCSIS.

"Full Duplex DOCSIS is going to get us the upstream capacity for the competitive services. These bandwidth demands, as you know, will continue to grow and coax does have a lot of life left."