McKinney: DOCSIS 3.1 ‘Slightly Ahead’ Of Schedule

When it comes to preparing tests and setting specs for cable’s emerging DOCSIS 3.1 platform, it’s been full speed ahead at CableLabs.

Development of DOCSIS 3.1 technologies are “slightly ahead of the original schedule that we laid out two years ago when we kicked off 3.1 activities,” Phil McKinney, the president and CEO of Louisville, Colo.-based CableLabs, said in a recent interview. 

With the first DOCSIS 3.1 chips expected to emerge by the end of 2014, McKinney sees 3.1 interops getting underway by the first half of 2015, with certification to follow in the early part of the second half of 2015.

“Then you’ll start to see physical deployments by the end of 2015,” he predicted.

And let there be no doubt that DOCSIS 3.1 is a major priority for the industry.

“Every time I have a conversation with any of the [cable operator] CEOs, typically the first part of the conversation is not about the weather; it’s about the status of DOCSIS 3.1,” McKinney said.

Expect more details on DOCSIS 3.1’s progress to emerge at this week’s SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in Denver. On Monday afternoon (September 22), during the event’s pre-show Symposium, Jorge Salinger, the vice president of access architecture at Comcast; and Belal Hamzeh, director and principal architect at CableLabs, are on tap to report on the current status and schedule for DOCSIS 3.1.

CableLabs released the initial product specs for DOCSIS 3.1 last October, and, of recent note, published the cable modem OSS interface specs for DOCSIS 3.1 on June 19. The platform is targeting up to 10 Gbps in the downstream and at least 1 Gbps in the upstream using orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) modulation and a new forward error correction (FEC) scheme, Low Density Parity Check (LDPC), that will enable operators to use their bandwidth more efficiently and pump out more bits per hertz. 

While McKinney believes we’re yet to see residential apps that require sustained 1-Gig speeds, he says it still makes sense for cable to pursue such capabilities.

“The question we always get is, ‘What the heck do you do once you get 1-Gig into a house? What service requires it?’” McKinney said, noting that 1-Gig could handle 40 simultaneous  4K streams into the house.

“Today, there’s nothing in the marketplace that needs a 1-Gig sustained speed. However, one service today that consumers do value when you get to those kinds of speeds is really not so much the issue of speed overall as it latency, is what I call the ‘fast sync.’  You come into your house and if you could burst to 1-Gig to get your email synchronized, your TV shows onto your iPad because you’re dashing out to a flight…it’s that feeling of having instantaneous  access to your information so you can be productive everywhere you go.”

Multichannel News will feature the full Q&A with McKinney as part of its daily coverage of this week’s Cable-Tec Expo. In it, McKinney also offers an update on CableLabs’ activities around security, 4K/Ultra HD, fiber-to-the-premises technology, and concerns on how Unlicensed LTE could affect the cable industry’s evolving WiFi strategies.

 Please visit our SCTE Cable-Tec Expo micro-site for the latest news and announcements from the tech-fest in Denver.