The long road of DOCSIS won't end at 3.1.
CableLabs confirmed that the Colorado-based cable industry R&D organization has begun to pursue DOCSIS 4.0, a set of next-gen specifications for hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) networks that will include some recent additions to DOCSIS 3.1 alongside some new capabilities that will deliver services well above 1.2GHz.
The new 4.0 specs will include some elements added to DOCSIS 3.1 in recent years, including Full Duplex DOCSIS (FDX) and a relatively new Low Latency DOCSIS capability that is targeting sub-1 millisecond latencies.
CableLabs said the plan is to separate the current D3.1 family of specs into two families of specs -- DOCSIS 3.1 and DOCSIS 4.0.
"4.0 is the official version number now being given to the DOCSIS specifications that include Full Duplex DOCSIS functionality," the spokesperson said via email. "Additionally, this provides clarification on the necessary energy efficiency allocations for both DOCSIS 3.1 and DOCSIS 4.0."
In addition to adding some security enhancements, DOCSIS 4.0, sources said, will also add in a new Extended Spectrum DOCSIS (ESD) capability that will support HFC network traffic up to 1.8GHz, up from the 1.2GHz supported today by D3.1.
CableLabs hasn't announced expected timing on D4.0, but people familiar with the 4.0 effort believe that the bulk of the new specs could be wrapped before the end of 2019 (given that much of the specs for FDX and Low Latency DOCSIS are well downstream), and that the work centered on Extended Spectrum DOCSIS (for up to 1.8GHz) could be done before mid-2020. That could set the stage for products that support the full 4.0 specs to emerge in 2021.
The move to 4.0 should give vendors more clarity on what products to develop as there has not been clear uniformity among those pursuing FDX and those that would rather go an extended spectrum strategy.
For more about how DOCSIS 4.0 will help vendors develop next-gen cable network products as well as a future version of the spec that will enable services up to 3GHz, see this story in Light Reading: CableLabs Kicks Off Pursuit of DOCSIS 4.0.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading