The latest upgrade path for the DOCSIS 3.1 cable standard promises a future where cable broadband upstream speeds aren't quite so pathetic. Traditionally, even top shelf cable operators like Comcast struggle to offer anything faster than 35 Mbps on the upstream side of the equation due to restrictions in the DOCSIS standard. But Cable Labs this week formalized an upgrade path for the standard that paves the way toward a future where cable operators are able to offer symmetrical speeds as fast as 10 Gbps.
More specifically, the Cable Labs announcement states the group has completed the Full Duplex Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification update to DOCSIS 3.1 that should make symmetrical speeds possible over cable lines.
Cable s upstream has long been relegated to a limited slice of bandwidth (5 MHz to 42 MHz) referred to as a "low split." To dramatically increase upstream cable speeds, cable operators have been exploring a "mid-split" that would bump the ceiling to 85 MHz, or a "high-split" that would push it to 200 MHz. Full duplex technology would eliminate the need for these splits entirely.
"Current DOCSIS networks have to juggle available upstream and downstream traffic," CableLabs Research and Development VP Belal Hamzeh says of the upgrade. "Full Duplex DOCSIS technology supports multi-gigabit symmetric services by enabling concurrent transmissions in the same spectrum, providing the ability to increase the upstream capacity without sacrificing downstream capacity. This has the potential to greatly improve network efficiency and, in turn, customer experience."
The full duplex version of DOCSIS 3.1 "offers high speeds over the existing infrastructure and is less expensive to deploy than fiber, while still maintaining backwards compatibility with previous generations of DOCSIS technology," the organization said.
Granted you may still be waiting a while before you see these faster upstream speeds, especially if your cable provider appears to be stuck in neutral when it comes to cable upgrades (**cough, Charter**). Commercial deployments of the standard aren't expected for another few years, and how much competition your cable provider sees will dictate how quickly the standard update is deployed.
Most analysts predict the initial wave of full duplex DOCSIS 3.1 upgrades should start appearing in the later half of 2019 or early part of 2020.