CableLabs: Full Duplex is years away from ubiquity

CableLabs HQ

Theoretically capable of delivering symmetrical download and upload speeds of up to 10 Gbps over hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) networks, Full Duplex could help cable operators better compete in markets like high-end business services in the coming decades.

But the technology is still quite a ways away from wide-scale deployment. 

"[Full Duplex is] something that's in the labs right now," CableLabs Chief Strategy Officer Ike Elliot said at an event conducted last week—and reported on—by Light Reading. "We're working with the vendor community in defining specifications on it, and we really expect to see some trials on that within about a year.”

RELATED: CableLabs begins spec writing for Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1

CableLabs announced in September that it begun writing specifications for Full Duplex. Among vendors, Cisco also announced around that time that it had submitted a silicon reference design for the technology.

RELATED: Cisco introduces silicon reference design for CableLabs' ‘full duplex’ vision

But even after trials begin, there will be a lot of work to do. 

"It requires getting fiber all the way to the last active [component] in the network," Elliott said. ”There’s a big infrastructure investment to make... so [Full Duplex is] not going to be available across a broad footprint on day one.”

Meanwhile, other voices at the Light Reading event argued that committing resources to DOCSIS 3.1 related technologies will not be an effective solution for cable operators who want to compete for commercial serivces. 

Andrew Smith, chief architect for cable MSO networks at Juniper Networks, and Lucas Binder, consultant at Interactive Broadband Consulting Group, both said that only all-fiber networks can adequately serve the needs of large enterprises. 

RELATED: Altice shuns DOCSIS 3.1, sets ambitious 5-year FTTH deployment plan

And as its rivals make plans to extend the life of their HFC networks four decades into the future, Altice USA said last week that it would skip DOCSIS 3.1 deployment altogether, choosing instead to deliver multi-gigabit broadband speeds with fiber-to-the-premises solutions.