Answers to Key DOCSIS 3.1 Migration Questions

Jeff Walker

Jeff Walker-Sr. Director, CMTS Product Marketing, ARRIS

With more headlines and data pointing to consumers’ increasing desire for TV Anywhere, multiscreen services, OTT and IP video, we know it’s crucial for service providers to look for ways to further optimize their network.

More providers than ever are transitioning to higher-speed, wideband DOCSIS 3.0 technology. In fact, DOCSIS 3.0 device shipments are expected to comprise nearly 90 percent of worldwide cable CPE shipments in 2014. And the good news is that by taking full advantage of DOCSIS 3.0, service providers not only optimize the performance of their networks, but also prepare those networks for a smooth migration to DOCSIS 3.1.

So where exactly are we in regards to the DOCSIS 3.1 migration? How do cable providers get there? And perhaps the question on most everyone’s mind…is it possible to ensure a smooth migration path? Thankfully, the short answer to the last question is “yes.”  But let’s address these questions in greater detail – as well as some additional key points related to DOCSIS 3.1.

First, what exactly will DOCSIS 3.1 do for cable providers? Under appropriate conditions, DOCSIS 3.1 will enable providers to achieve up to a 50 percent increase in data throughput in the same spectrum supporting speeds up to 10 Gbps in the downstream and 1+ Gbps in the upstream.

DOCSIS 3.1 enables expanded speeds through the use of OFDM, which uses multiple sub-carriers in channels up to 192 MHz in width, and Low Density Parity Check (LDPC) forward error correction, which is more efficient than the Reed-Solomon FEC codes used in early DOCSIS versions. The combination of OFDM and LDPC allows providers to use higher modulation orders – 1024, 2048 and 4096 QAM – and enable maximum throughput across various HFC plant conditions.

So where do we stand in the DOCSIS 3.1 migration timeline? DOCSIS 3.1 specifications were released in October 2013, and many vendors are currently developing compatible products. DOCSIS 3.1 enables providers to provide compelling service offerings in a dynamic, competitive marketplace. They can meet the growing demand for managed and OTT IP video services as well as data and traditional video services, such as VOD and nDVR.

The expectation is DOCSIS 3.1 testing will begin later this year and into 2015. Deployments will more than likely begin in late 2015 and early 2016. But it’s crucial for providers making significant investments in their deployed DOCSIS 3.0 CCAP technology to offer software upgrades to key aspects of DOCSIS 3.1. This will enable them to offer enhanced downstream speeds beyond what is possible with the bonding of multiple 6 or 8 MHz channels.

Maybe by now you’re wondering how one might approach this migration path? Thankfully, the migration to DOCSIS 3.1 can be a multi-phased approach making it easier to adapt to the change.

It’s good to know from the start that the migration can be done separately on the downstream and upstream channels. This allows for quicker expansion on the congested downstream channels using some of the DOCSIS 3.1 features. From there, upstream support can be implemented later when additional upstream bandwidth is necessary.

Additionally, providers can start using DOCSIS 3.1 on their existing spectrum in 96MHz or 192MHz blocks and then later adapt their plant and expand to use the higher downstream frequencies up to 1.2 GHz or 1.7 GHz defined in the standards. This approach can make use of “holes” in existing spectrum, and support the gradual insertion of the DOCSIS 3.1 modems into their systems.

One of the operating modes that can aid in the migration to DOCSIS 3.1 is enabled by turning off a block of OFDM sub-carriers in the OFDM channel and operating a single-carrier QAM channel within that spectrum.  DOCSIS 3.1 modems and DOCSIS 3.0 modems will be able to operate in the same serving group with the DOCSIS 3.1 modems using both the OFDM and SC-QAM channels and DOCSIS 3.0 modems operating in single-carrier QAM channels.

Finally, the DOCSIS 3.1 migration is made easier and more cost-effective if the same CCAP line cards being used for DOCSIS 3.0 services can be upgraded to support 3.1 via a software upgrade. This saves the provider from an expensive line card replacement. It is also important to have a CCAP with the necessary capacity in the switch fabric, mid-plane, power and cooling. Ultimately, the overall system should scale to beyond 1 Terabit/s of throughput with the appropriate QoS control, traffic managers and network-side interfaces.

In summary, the DOCSIS 3.1 migration aims to be fairly straightforward because of both backward compatibility with DOCSIS 3.0 modems and gateways AND the ability to preserve today’s CCAP investments. Testing of compatible cable modems and gateways will commence later this year followed by upgrades to deployed CCAP systems. All of these initiatives strengthen the cable providers’ position to optimize the performance of their systems to support the growing demand for IP video, data and traditional video services.

We’re not too far away, and I’m looking forward to sharing more updates as we continue down the path to DOCSIS 3.1.

Getting the Most out of Your DOCSIS 3.0 Network: Dynamic Load Balancing of Bonded Modems

Jeff Walker

Jeff Walker-Sr. Director, CMTS Product Marketing, ARRIS

We’re using more bandwidth than ever. And that amount is growing by nearly 50 percent per year.

The reason is that we’re streaming more content, on more devices, from more sources than ever – whether it’s movies on our tablets, TV on our smartphones, or files from the cloud.

With no slowdown in sight and new services coming onboard every year, cable providers face a unique challenge to meet tomorrow’s demands on today’s networks.

One answer is wideband DOCSIS 3.0 technology, using dynamic load balancing across available wideband channels.

This can be a nearly universal solution, because most cable providers in North America and many around the world have upgraded to DOCSIS 3.0 capable CMTS/CCAP networks, and because DOCSIS 3.0 devices – like cable modems and video gateways – are on track to constitute 90 percent of all worldwide cable CPE shipments in 2014.

DOCSIS 3.0 Channel Bonding

This widespread adoption of DOCSIS 3.0 network and CPE components enable significant bandwidth increases from technology called “channel bonding,” which combines multiple channels (downstream, upstream, or both) into one, providing multiplicative bandwidth gains resulting in speeds beyond 1 Gbps downstream and 300 Mbps upstream.

DOCSIS 3.0 Dynamic Loading

Optimizing bandwidth from DOCSIS 3.0 networks requires dynamically load balancing channel-bonded modems. These modems have a particular set of channels in which they can transmit and receive upstream and downstream data – Transmit Channel Set (TCS) and Receive Channel Set (RCS) respectively. Users’ bonded DOCSIS 3.0 cable modems often are spread across these channel sets.

Dynamic loading involves periodically checking and comparing the utilization of available channel sets and moving modems to alternative upstream or downstream channel sets with lighter loads.

Moving modems from one channel set to another falls under a function known as Dynamic Bonding Change (DBC), which performs the move in hitless (no loss of registration) operation to eliminate network interruption.

DOCSIS 3.0 Static Load Balancing

Static load balancing is an alternative to dynamic load balancing, but inferior for network optimization, as it involves the CMTS/CCAP assigning a bonded DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem to a TCS and RCS at the time of registration based on modem count vs. channel utilization.

The Path to DOCSIS 3.1

Dynamic load balancing of bonded cable modems allows a provider to stay ahead of exploding demand for both managed and OTT video over IP services.  And, the expansion and efficient use of the DOCSIS 3.0 channel bonding will also enable a smooth path to DOCSIS 3.1 and the ability to compete against fiber-deep initiatives by bonding together DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 channels.

Stay tuned for more on the migration path to DOCSIS 3.1…

Spring Clean Your Network with ARRIS

Spring has sprung. It’s time to clean house, and ARRIS can help.

All your family’s gadgets fight for bandwidth – making things messy… and slow. But ARRIS has two products that will put you on the fast track to a clean home network.

Our SURFboard® SB6141 Cable Modem ($99.99), with DOCSIS® 3.0 & IPv6 support, and SBG6782U_RIGHT (revised2)our SURFboard SBG6782-AC Gateway ($219.99), an all-in-one device with 802.11AC WiFi®, give you new levels of connectivity matched with the fastest available wired and wireless Internet speeds. They’ll also save you more than $200 over five years vs. renting equipment from your service provider.

That’s like 60 cups of coffee… Which you’ll need, when our SURFboards put you hours ahead of your spring cleaning schedule, and make it easier than ever to stream your way through a marathon of last season’s House of Cards.

So, as you begin to organize your closet, make sure to give your home network some attention as well. A slow connection is so last season.

Happy cleaning!

ARRIS Recommends a Festively Fast Wi-FI Cable Modem for the Holidays

According to the CEA, three quarters of consumers plan to purchase consumer electronics as giftsholidays this holiday season, so there’s a good chance that your family of connected devices is about to get bigger…

But guess what. Your connected experience is only as good as the weakest link in your home network. And that 20th century cable modem is holding back your shiny new tablet from getting the latest, fastest, most immersive, and awesome new media experiences.

SBG6782-AC- lo resSo this holiday season, get all the fun you deserve and upgrade your cable modem with the Motorola-ARRIS SBG6782-AC Gateway.

It’s the world’s first retail cable modem to support the blazingly fast WiFi 802.11AC standard. And it sports a host of connectivity features like dual-band concurrent WiFi radios, a 4-port gigabit router, and support for MoCA networking and DOCSIS 3.0—all of which is cable geek slang for your buffering days are over.

Tell us below how you will connect your home this holiday season.

Happy Holidays from ARRIS.