Home Industry Telecoms & NBN Comcast previews DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem due early 2016: OZ NBN implications?

Comcast previews DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem due early 2016: OZ NBN implications?

US cable and Internet provider Comcast has developed its own DOCSIS 3.1 modem which when combined with a DOCSIS 3.1 network can deliver 1Gbps+ speeds.

Comcast is one of the biggest cable companies in the US, and while its customer service is rated as awful, with aggressive customer service reps that make it very difficult to leave the company, it is powering ahead with DOCSIS 3.1 technology.

According to a Comcast corporate blog post, Comcast’s DOCSIS 3.1 modem, dubbed the ‘Gigabit Home Gateway’ was developed by its teams in Philadelphia and Silicon Valley.

It will go into production this year and will be available to customers in 2016, and while it can only deliver 1Gbps-plus speeds on cable networks that have been upgraded to the DOCSIS 3.1 standard, it is fully backwards compatible with the DOCSIS 3.0 network Comcast already has deployed in the US.

However once Comcast upgrades its network to DOCSIS 3.1, the company states ‘the Gigabit Home Gateway will be able to deliver gigabit speeds to virtually all Xfinity customers once the DOCSIS 3.1 networking standard is deployed nationally.’

Xfinity is Comcast’s brand of high-speed Internet.

Comcast says that ‘in addition to providing the fastest speeds ever made available to consumers over a hybrid fiber coax network, the Gigabit Home Gateway will also offer features we’ve never before combined in a single device.

‘The device features a Wi-Fi router capable of delivering gigabit wireless speeds, IP video technology and integrated home automation and security capabilities.’

Comcast says this gateway will be its first product ‘to integrate software that Comcast acquired in its 2014 purchase of PowerCloud. PowerCloud technology will provide users with the direct ability to control and monitor the activities and devices using their home network.’

The gateway ‘also uses open-sourced RDK B software, architected by Comcast with contributions from many in the RDK community, which will help us introduce new features faster and address issues more efficiently.’

Comcast promises to reveal more details soon.

On 12 March 2015, Australia’s NBN stated DOCSIS 3.1 will be rolled out locally ‘from 2017’, which will be after the next Federal Election.

NBN boasted it ‘is set to become one of the first telecommunications companies in the world to introduce the high-speed cable technology’, but clearly will be at leat a year behind Comcast in the US, although NBN did state that ‘field trials of the technology will launch in the United States later this year.’

NBN notes ‘DOCSIS 3.1 supports download speeds of up to 10Gbps and up to 1Gbps upstream and by delivering data more efficiently can deliver up to 50% more data than is possible over current cable networks.’

Over 3 million homes and business in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and the Gold Coast are due to get the NBN over coax cables and DOCSIS 3.1 technology.

NBN CTO, Dennis Steigler announced the development for Australia at Cable Congress 2015 in Brussels and said at the time that: “NBN will utilise a network that is already deployed across millions of homes and businesses in Australia. By re-architecting the ratio of homes to a node and the use of the latest technology underpinning DOCSIS 3.1, Australia’s HFC network will become one of the most state-of-the-art technologies used to deploy broadband services.

“Effectively, this technology has the potential to offer speeds equivalent to what’s on offer by full fibre to the premises and up to 100 times faster (up to 10Gbps) than what is currently provided by today’s HFC network.”

With Comcast set making the modems available to customers from 2016, perhaps there’s hope NBN can speed up deployment in Australia.


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.