Many US Tier 1 operators spent the last couple of year deploying DOCSIS 3.1. Now smaller providers are rolling out or expanding their implementations so they can more quickly deliver high-speed broadband to subscribers unwilling to wait for fiber.
NBN Co., the Australian wholesaler created by the government to roll out infrastructure across the country, today said it completed a D3.1 field trial on one retail operator's hybrid fiber-coax (HFC) network. That network serves 2.5 million homes and businesses and reached download speeds up to 994 Mbit/s, according to NBN.
The trial represents the operator's ongoing use and exploration of multiple technologies to meet different needs and situations, NBN wrote.
"This HFC gigabit trial using DOCSIS 3.1 is part of an ongoing program of work by nbn’s technology office to plan future upgrade paths on nbn's access networks. Previous trials and demonstrations have included Gfast and XG.Fast for FTTN/B/C, NGPON2 and XGS-PON for FTTP, and new technology for the transit and wireless networks," NBN Co. said, referring to fiber-to-the-node, -basement and -cabinet, as well as fiber-to-the-premise.
In a related lab test with D3.1, NBN generated upload speeds up to 988 Mbit/s, the operator said. D3.1 can support download speeds of 10 Gbit/s and upload speeds of at least 1 Gbit/s if conditions are right, wrote Light Reading's Alan Breznick. Symmetrical D3.1 -- called Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1 -- supports symmetrical speeds up to 10 Gbit/s, and was developed as a clear contender to fiber.
Over in the US, Atlantic Broadband is upping the speed of its D3.1 network to fulfill its goal of providing gigabit access to most residential and business customers across its 11-state footprint. The Cogeco Cable subsidiary is accelerating connection speeds in Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York service areas, plus King George, Westmoreland, Essex, Richmond, Mathews and Northumberland counties in Virginia. Atlantic Broadband's investment in D3.1 was critical to its gigabit plans, the operator said.
"The gigabit speed expansion is occurring at a time when homes and workplaces increasingly require internet with the capacity and performance to power the growing number of devices and applications customers rely on every day," Atlantic Broadband wrote in a release. "Gigabit's high-performance speeds, made possible through robust DOCSIS 3.1 technology, power the most data-intensive applications so that home and business users can surf, stream, download and work online simultaneously."
And in June, service provider Otelco told prospective customers it was moving away from a fiber-only strategy to serve a greater number of subscribers faster. That meant Otelco will spend about 20% of its $5 million investment in Alabama on non-fiber infrastructure such as DOCSIS and copper-based technologies, including VDSL or Gfast, said Trevor Jones, vice president of Marketing, Sales and Customer Service in a blog.
"Cable TV systems have the capacity to provide considerably more bandwidth than DSL, and can even provide gigabit-level download speeds if we move to an all-digital television network and upgrade the system to the new Gig capable DOCSIS 3.1," he said. "Ultimately… knowing we could get so much more out of the cable system, we knew the priority for Fiber to the Home deployment has to be in DSL systems where we have less growth potential for bandwidth on the existing network. On the other hand, we’re sure our cable customers will see dramatic improvements by this time next year."
Incumbents also continue their D3.1 investment. In April, Comcast Business rolled out gigabit service to 86 Connecticut communities via D3.1 and fiber-optic cable capable of 10 Gbit/s. And in January 2019, Cox Communications completed its D3.1 deployment throughout Northwest Arkansas, a rollout accelerated due to the combination of Cox's investment in infrastructure and D3.1, Curt Stamp, vice president and Arkansas market leader for Cox, told a local publication.
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana.