CableLabs Offers Big Bandwidth Tool in DOCSIS 3.0

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The technical scheme cable operators have been awaiting to boost their bandwidth beyond the 100-megabit-per-second benchmark is now in the field.

CableLabs Monday issued Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification 3.0, a technical blueprint for bonding data channels to reach downstream data rates of 160 mbps or greater and upstream data rates of 120 mbps.

DOCSIS 3.0 has been in draft stages since early this year, and it has been much anticipated as a technology that will help cable operators better compete against fiber-optic-driven consumer services fielded by Verizon Communications and AT&T.

The specification also includes support for Internet protocol version 6 (IPv6), a next-generation version of the protocol that powers all Web content and communications. IPv6’s big upgrade is an expanded number of available addresses that identify devices connected to the Internet. The number of available addresses using the current IP scheme, IPv4, has been in danger of running out because of the proliferation of IP-enabled computers, set-top boxes and mobile devices.

“This set of specifications will lead to cable-modem products that greatly strengthen cable's package of offerings to consumers, enabling delivery of services that may not even be imagined today,” said Tony Werner, senior vice president and chief technology officer of Liberty Global. “Needless to say, these specifications advance our competitive position in the IP space.”

Using the DOCSIS 3.0 specification, cable-gear providers can now develop cable-modem-termination systems, headend equipment, cable modems, set-top boxes and test equipment.

Major vendors took part in an interoperability event last month to test the early-stage DOCSIS 3.0 gear, and the results showed that their equipment was able to work together to support channel bonding and IPv6 elements, according to CableLabs.

CableLabs set up a testing process to certify DOCSIS 3.0 content, but it also came up with a new option that allows vendors to test gear in earlier stages of development for partial compliance.