Thanks to its ability to keep pace with technological change, the DOCSIS standard, which has more than 20 years of history, is bringing renewed life to the cable industry.
Last year, CableLabs-hosted 10G Showcase, operators Charter and Comcast demonstrated substantial progress toward the commercialization of DOCSIS 4.0.
What does this mean for DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 cable modem specifications? Does the 3.1 work just as well as DOCSIS 4.0? Let’s find out through this comparison of different DOCSIS versions.
- DOCSIS 3.0 vs DOCSIS 3.1 vs DOCSIS 4.0: Quick Differences
- What is DOCSIS Technology?
- DOCSIS 3.0 vs 3.1 vs 4.0: Detailed Comparison
- Frequently Asked Questions
DOCSIS 3.0 vs DOCSIS 3.1 vs DOCSIS 4.0: Quick Differences
|Traits||DOCSIS 3.0||DOCSIS 3.1||DOCSIS 4.0|
|Video conferencing, |
|Situations requiring high
Online Learning, Virtual
|1 Gbps||10 Gbps||10 Gbps|
|200 Mbps||1-2 Gbps||6 Gbps|
|Latency||100 ms||10 ms||5 ms|
|$50 to $90||$150 to $180||$200 to $300|
IPv6, Better Performance
|Improved Transmission |
|All the features of other
Higher Upload Speeds
What is DOCSIS Technology?
Do you already know the basics? Jump directly to the detailed comparison between DOCSIS 3.0, 3.1, and 4.0!
Data over cable service interface specification (DOCSIS) is a standard for transmitting IP data over broadband cable. It defines upstream and downstream channels to allow two-way communication between a cable modem termination system (CMTS) at the cable headend and the cable modem at the subscriber’s home.
Here is a quick overview of the various DOCSIS versions over the years:
Introduced in 1997, DOCSIS 1.0 was devoted to the implementation of typical services related to Internet access. It allowed obtaining bandwidth of up to 40 Mbps in the downstream channel and about 10 Mbps in the upstream channel.
Introduced in 1999, DOCSIS 1.1 became a long-standing basis for implementing VoIP services for cable TV subscribers. The standard met QoS (Quality of Service) and extended security requirements for DES 56 data transmission.
Released in 2002, DOCSIS 2.0 provided more symmetrical transport bandwidth (downstream and upstream) as a response on the part of the manufacturers to the increased demand for network bandwidth. The maximum speeds were 40 Mbps download and up to 30 Mbps upload.
Released in 2006, DOCSIS 3.0 can combine downstream and upstream channels (channel bonding) and provide IP multicast, IPv6 functionality, and AES encryption. It can connect 6 or 8 MHz channels in the downstream direction, achieving speeds of up to 1 Gbps. In the upstream order, the possible speed is about 200 Mbps.
Introduced in 2013, DOCSIS 3.1 provides a new generation of the physical layer (PHY), which integrates the OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) and FEC (Forward Error Correction) mechanisms.
It can combine the 25 kHz or 50 kHz channel widths to form a block spectrum as wide as 200 MHz. As a result, a staggering bandwidth of 1 or 2 Gbps upstream and 10 Gbps downstream is supported.
Suggested Read: DOCSIS 3.0 vs DOCSIS 3.1
Released in 2020, DOCSIS 4.0 is the latest modem technology that provides broadband capabilities over HFC (Hybrid Fiber Coaxial), helping users easily experience multi-gig throughput. It assumes two different flavors as per user requirements.
The first is the Full Duplex or FDX variant that aims to amplify the upstream capabilities by 6Gbps, and the second is Extended-Spectrum or ESD flavor, allowing you to maximize just the downstream capabilities by merely increasing the frequency range to even 1.8 GHz.
Suggested Read: DOCSIS 3.1 vs DOCSIS 4.0
DOCSIS 3.0 vs 3.1 vs 4.0: Detailed Comparison
The biggest difference between DOCSIS 3.0, 3.1 and 4.0 is that the latter two can support download speeds 10 times faster than DOCSIS 3.0, up to 10Gbps. This is beneficial for users requiring high-speed internet plans. However, if you subscribe to 200 Mbps internet, the wise choice would be to go with a DOCSIS 3.0 modem.
The modem’s upstream capacity has greatly increased with the upgrade from DOCSIS 3.1 to 4.0. It is now nearly 6 Gbps instead of 1.5 Gbps in DOCSIS 3.1. Upstream usage by today’s users is typically 10% of downstream usage. The upgrades will allow them to increase upload speeds significantly.
|Speed||DOCSIS 3.0||DOCSIS 3.1||DOCSIS 4.0|
|Downstream||1 Gbps||10 Gbps||10 Gbps|
|Upstream||200 Mbps||1-2 Gbps||6 Gbps|
Latency & Ping Time
Slow connections are often caused by high latency, while fast connections are caused by low latency. With DOCSIS 3.1, latency is only 10 milliseconds, compared with an average latency of 50 milliseconds with DOCSIS 3.0.
This makes DOCSIS 3.1 modems more efficient for users. With DOCSIS 4.0, latency is further reduced to a mere 5ms. Lower latency is more valuable for users such as gamers, live-streaming content creators, and healthcare trainers because it prevents applications from freezing randomly.
Cable modems have downstream and upstream channels that allow you to download and upload data. More channels will make this process faster by avoiding buffering or unprecedented lags.
A DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem with 32 × 8 channel bonding can get you 1 Gbps speed, whereas a 4 × 4 channel bonding can only deliver 712 Mbps. Furthermore, A DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem with 32 x 8 channel bonding can give you a whopping 10 Gbps speed, thus improving your internet performance.
While there’s no specific information available on the channel bonding capacities of DOCSIS 4.0, what’s certain is that it will provide better cloud usage, VoIP phone usage, faster data backup process, video conferencing, and 4K and HD streaming.
Security & Vulnerability Control
In today’s digital-first world, you do not want your data exposed to unwarranted threats. DOCSIS 3.1 cable modems also offer more advanced security protocols and features for safer online activity than DOCSIS 3.0.
The improved cable modem also includes WPA3, a more advanced router security feature that will enhance encryption to keep your data safe. DOCSIS 4.0 is set to include tighter internet security protocols to prevent you from cyber threats.
Cost of Modems
Priced at $50-$90, DOCSIS 3.0 is the most affordable cable modem you can buy. Furthermore, it is the most commonly used cable modem offered by all major cable providers. This is an optimum choice if you use internet speeds of less than 500 Mbps.
DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem can cost anything between $150 and $180. The increased price can be attributed to high efficiency, better speed and throughput, and lower latency. If you require internet speeds of upto 1 Gbps, this cable modem is your best bet.
Although DOCSIS 4.0 is the most expensive of the three discussed modem types, it’s rightfully priced between $200 and $300. Why? This version has tighter security protocols, significantly higher internet speeds, and greater futureproofing.
Frequently Asked Questions
DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem specification was introduced in the year 2006. The aim of this version was to provide the possibility of combining downstream and upstream channels, IP multicast, and IPv6 functionality. It responded to the challenge of low speeds provided by the previous DOCSIS versions.
It is possible that DOCSIS 4.0 will see limited deployments and implementation across networking devices by the year 2025. Live demonstrations of DOCSIS 4.0 technology can be expected in 2023.
DOCSIS 3.1 and DOCSIS 4.0 provide downstream speed and throughput of 10 Gbps, which is ten times more than what DOCSIS 3.0 can deliver, let alone the previous DOCSIS versions. This translates into more efficient internet performance and better security protocols.
DOCSIS 3.0 modems will not be obsolete immediately, but their functionality may decrease as your ISP migrates to DOCSIS 3.1. New tools and faster plans may not be available if you continue using DOCSIS 3.0. It’s possible to experience a general downturn in performance over time, such as slower speeds or higher latency.
DOCSIS 4.0 specification-based products are still in the development phase. It may experience limited deployments by 2025 and full-scale implementation by 2026. Live demonstrations of DOCSIS 4.0 technology can be expected in 2024.
DOCSIS facilitates internet connectivity through both hardware and software. Different factors affect transmission speed and performance, such as the distance between a user’s modem and the provider’s infrastructure, impacting downstream and upstream.
If you live in an area where Gigabits plans are available, getting a DOCSIS 3.1 modem makes sense. Otherwise, DOCSIS 3.0 will be sufficient if you need speeds below 1Gbps. With 3.1, you can play online games or live stream as these tasks require low pings or fast internet.
With the development of DOCSIS 4.0, operators can deliver on the vision of 10G thanks to its full-duplex capability. Faster networks will support new technology innovations in the future. Among these will include 10G in mobile and wireless networks. With more gigabits and fiber connections, DOCSIS 4.0 will be the best futureproofing solution.