CableLabs Opens Door to DOCSIS 3.1 Certification Tests

CableLabs has “opened the door” to vendors that are seeking to certify and qualify products for DOCSIS 3.1, the industry’s emerging multi-gigabit platform for hybrid/fiber coax (HFC) networks, CableLabs director of broadband evolution Belal Hemzeh announced Monday in this blog post.

“We expect to see product submissions for certification in the near future,” he wrote.

The move will get the cable industry a step closer toward the introduction of interoperable DOCSIS 3.1 equipment – from cable modems/gateways to network-side cable modem termination systems (CMTSs) and super-dense converged cable access platforms (CCAPs) that integrate the function of the  CMTS and the edge QAM.

The official shift toward official DOCSIS 3.1 certification testing comes less than a year after CableLabs conducted its first D3.1 interop. It has conducted four more additional interops since, and has another scheduled for September 14-25.

But there aren’t many opportunities left if vendors are trying to get the CableLabs stamp on a DOCSIS 3.1 product before the end of 2015. According to the current schedule, cert wave 115 got underway in July, with results expected in the second half of  September. Vendors must submit products to CableLabs by the week of October 5 to get into certification wave 116.

While certification would enable a cable modem vendor to sell that product at retail, the fact is that most MSOs also require CableLabs certification on products that are directly sold to them.

“With the technology rapidly maturing, vendors have accelerated their product development,” Hemzeh wrote. “Along with the progress made by the CM and CMTS vendors, we have also seen excellent progress from test equipment vendors, who are preparing the right tools to support DOCSIS 3.1 field deployments. We are very excited that cable network operators are now priming their networks for DOCSIS 3.1 readiness through field testing and trials.”

Major MSOs such as Comcast and Liberty Global are expected to get aggressive with DOCSIS 3.1 deployments.

Comcast, which expects to start D3.1 market trials by the fourth quarter of 2015, told FierceCablethat it plans to have its entire footprint DOCSIS 3.1-ready by the end of 2016.

Liberty Global is testing DOCSIS 3.1 in the labs now ahead of live trials that are expected to get underway in early 2016. Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries recently shed some light on the economics of D3.1, estimating that the MSO should be able to deliver 1-gig speeds for about €20 (US $21.89) per home. That cost does not factor in the consumer premise equipment.

The first DOCSIS 3.1 modems will by 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 initial D3 .1 modems will support about 5 Gbps/1Gbps when fully loaded.