CableLabs Certifies First Batch of DOCSIS 3.1 Modems

Marking a key milestone in the development of cable’s multi-gigabit DOCSIS 3.1 platform, CableLabs announced Wednesday that products from five suppliers – Askey, Castlenet, Netgear, Technicolor and Ubee Interactive -- have been certified for D3.1.

The certification stamp gives those vendors the green light to sell the devices at retail, but also means they are deemed interoperable. MSOs typically require products to gain the CableLabs stamp before they purchase them for lease to high-speed Internet customers.

CableLabs, which opened the door to testing last summer following several interop events,  said it expects more D3.1 products to be awarded in early 2016. The Colorado-based R&D house has yet to qualify any cable modem termination systems (CMTSs) for D3.1, though several vendors, including Arris, Cisco Systems, Casa Systems, Huawei and Harmonic are all developing network gear for the new spec. Candidates for future D3.1 modem certification include Arris, which showed off a pair of D3.1-based, retail-focused models at last fall's Cable-Tec Expo, as well as Humax, and  Sagemcom,  which all showed off new wares at a recent event at CableLabs touting the new multi-gigabit platform

It was not immediately known which chipsets are powering the current crop of certified equipment, though Broadcom, Intel Corp. and STMicroelectronics are all in the D3.1 modem chipset mix.

Update: According to the CableLabs's now-updated list of certified products, Askey gained approval for model “TCG310,” alongside Castlenet’s Optimum 601, Netgear’s CM1000, Technicolor’s TC4400-XM6, and Ubee’s DVMA20. 

The initial wave of DOCSIS 3.1 modems are hybrids that will support both DOCSIS 3.0- and D3.1-based traffic. While DOCSIS 3.1 is aiming for capacities of up to 10 Gbps downstream and at least 1 Gbps upstream, the first batch of D3 .1 modems will support about 5 Gbps/1Gbps when fully loaded. Under the current minimum requirements, the DOCSIS 3.0 side will be capable of bonding 32 QAM downstream channels and eight upstream QAM channels, while the DOCSIS 3.1 end requires a minimum of two channels/blocks of orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) spectrum at 192MHz-wide each, and two 96MHz-wide OFDM blocks for the upstream.

CableLabs said the first handful of D3.1-certified modems represent the greatest number to achieve that distinction in the first certification weave for any DOCSIS spec (i.e. DOCSIS 1.0, 1.1 and 2.0).

Those products also achieved certification as MSOs prepare to test and deploy D3.1 services this year, and ramp up deployment activity in 2017.

Among MSOs, Comcast is expected to be aggressive with DOCSIS 3.1 for residential gigabit broadband services. Comcast announced last month that it installed a D3.1-based modem on a “customer-facing network” in late November in its hometown of Philadelphia, and has since expanded those tests to other parts of Pennsylvania, as well as Northern California and Atlanta. 

“The delivery of certified DOCSIS 3.1 devices is critical to Comcast and the cable industry. This year, Comcast will begin offering our customers new gigabit speed services enabled with DOCSIS 3.1 technology,” Neil Smit, president and CEO of Comcast Cable, said in a statement. “Congratulations to CableLabs for taking DOCSIS 3.1 from laboratory to living room in record time.”

“Today’s news marks a key milestone for CableLabs in technical leadership and time to market,” said Phil McKinney, president and CEO of CableLabs, in a statement. “The DOCSIS 3.1 specifications assure the cable industry’s leadership in the delivery of broadband services. This represents the most rapid development and implementation cycle for a broadband technology development program ever delivered by CableLabs. Development of the initial DOCSIS 3.1 specifications to product certification has occurred in half the time of previous DOCSIS specifications.”