DENVER--Look for interoperability testing on the cable industry's emerging DOCSIS 3.1 platform to begin in late December, and CableLabs certification of products to start in second quarter of next year. That roadmap was outlined today by CableLabs CTO Ralph Brown during a BTR-hosted breakfast session on DOCSIS 3.1 held here at the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2014.
Brown said that CableLabs is currently wrapping up its testing plans and noted that there are many prototypes of DOCSIS 3.1 gear on the SCTE show floor, indicating that the DOCSIS 3.1 platform is progressing as planned.
Nevertheless, cable operators have mixed feelings about the new platform. Nick Segura, director of technical operations at Charter (NASDAQ: CHTR), noted that while today's DOCSIS 3.0 is "quite amazing" he believes that the capabilities of that platform will look like "child's play" when compared to the capabilities of DOCSIS 3.1. But at the same time, Segura said that training is going to be critical for the success of DOCSIS 3.1, specifically training technicians on how to troubleshoot problems.
But SCTE Director of Engineering Dean Stoneback noted that his group is already working with its members to prepare them for the eventual rollout. He noted that the association has created recommended practices for deploying DOCSIS 3.1, which include encouraging members to optimize their network before they deploy 3.1.
One of the big benefits of DOCSIS 3.1 is that it will have vector signal analyzer capabilities, noted Brady Volpe, president of The Volpe Firm, a consulting company that specializes in all generations of DOCSIS. Specifically, he said that this capability is like having a spectrum analyzer built into your cable modem, making everything more powerful.
However, all panelists emphasized that fact that DOCSIS 3.1 is backward compatible to DOCSIS 3.0, giving cable MSOs flexibility with how they deploy the new platform. "All DOCSIS standards are backwards compatible," Volpe said. "If you have DOCSIS 3.1 in your plant it will operate as DOCSIS 3.0," he added.
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