One of the leading internet service providers, Comcast, recently tested the DOCSIS 4.0 modem prototype and will soon launch the finished versions in the market. So, are you excited to know the differences between DOCSIS 3.1 and 4.0?
Should you wait for DOCSIS 4.0 modems, or are the DOCSIS 3.1 modems good enough? Let’s find out!
- DOCSIS 3.1 vs 4.0: Quick Differences
- What is DOCSIS 3.1?
- What is DOCSIS 4.0?
- DOCSIS 3.1 vs DOCSIS 4.0 [Detailed Comparison]
- When Is DOCSIS 4.0 Coming?
- Pros & Cons of DOCSIS 3.1 & Compliant Modems
- Pros & Cons of DOCSIS 4.0 & Compliant Modems
- Frequently Asked Questions
DOCSIS 3.1 vs 4.0: Quick Differences
|Traits||DOCSIS 3.1||DOCSIS 4.0|
|Main Applications||Residential and|
|Scenarios requiring high upstream speeds:
Healthcare, Video Conferencing, IoT,
Online Learning, Virtual Reality, etc.
|Channel Bonding||32 x 8||Not Confirmed (expect higher than 32 x 8)|
|Downstream Speed||4-8 Gbps||10 Gbps|
|Upstream Speed||1-2 Gbps||6 Gbps|
|Latency / Ping||Approx. 10ms||Approx. 5ms|
|Average Cost of Modems||$150 to $180||$200 to $300 (Expected)|
In the subsequent sections, I will be comparing DOCSIS 3.1 with 4.0, but before we dig in, let’s get a basic idea about what these technologies encompass.
What is DOCSIS 3.1?
DOCSIS 3.1 is a fairly new and latest modem technology for cable operators, which helps them to meet customer demands by offering them faster internet speeds.
A compatible modem supports superfast download speeds up to 10 Gbps, which means you get fiber-like internet speeds without having one installed in your space. While DOCSIS 3.1 upload speeds clock up to 1.5 Gbps.
Having a DOCSIS 3.1 modem doesn’t guarantee you Gigabits of speed and mostly depends on your subscribed internet plan. However, it boosts signal strength, so if you have a 250 Mbps plan, DOCSIS 3.1 does improve your speeds, reliability, and signal level.
Compared to DOCSIS 3.0 (its previous version), you might need to pay more to get similar speeds.
What is DOCSIS 4.0?
DOCSIS 4.0, as mentioned above, is a next-generation broadband technology that supports lower latency and faster speeds and connects more devices than its previous version, i.e. DOCSIS 3.1.
This upgraded technology will support next-gen HFC (Hybrid Fiber Coax) networks, further boosting the modem’s communication efficiency and supporting download speeds up to 10 Gbps.
Read more on DOCSIS 4.0 and its launch.
DOCSIS 3.1 vs DOCSIS 4.0 [Detailed Comparison]
With the upgrade of the DOCSIS version from 3.1 to 4.0, there’s been a massive boost in the upstream capacity of the modem. Compared to an upstream capacity of 1.5 Gbps in 3.1, it is nearly 6 Gbps in 4.0.
Today’s typical upstream data consumption amongst customers is 10% of their downstream data, and upgrades in technology will allow them to experience a massive boost in their upload speeds.
On the other hand, the downstream data or download speeds of both DOCSIS technology will pretty much remain the same.
From medical patients to gamers and liver streamers, customers are looking to run their applications without freezing, choppiness, or other latency issues, which is impossible just by adding more bandwidth.
So, with upgrades in DOCSIS technologies, networking companies’ sole purpose is to keep the round-trip latency to a minimum.
If you compare DOCSIS 3.1 to 4.0 in terms of latency, DOCSIS 3.1 offers 10ms latency, while developers aim to drop it down further to 3-5ms in its latest version, DOCSIS 4.0.
The latest technology directs the traffic toward tasks where it’s intended to eliminate further network congestion, which further unlocks the full potential of network bandwidth.
3. Channel Bonding
Moving further in the comparison between DOCSIS 3.1 and 4.0, the cable company hasn’t yet revealed the channel bonding specifications of DOCSIS 4.0, as far as speculations go following increased upstream speeds, there’ll be more upstream channels than 3.1.
So, with increased channel bondings, the former has the advantage of faster data backup, better cloud storage, video conferencing, gaming, 4K streaming, and VoIP phone usage.Kurt
Are you wondering which technology provides better security: DOCSIS 3.1 or 4.0?
Networking companies haven’t been much vocal regarding security features they have added to DOCSIS 4.0, but it sure is an upgrade over DOCSIS 3.1. The improvements will concern online security to keep your network secure from external threats, especially if you’re purchasing a modem-router combo.
As mentioned earlier, DOCSIS 4.0 supports upload speeds of up to 6 Gbps and up to 10 Gbps of download speeds. On the other hand, the respective download and upload speeds of DOCSIS 3.1 are 10 Gbps and 1.5 Gbps.
The highest speed plan most ISPs offer is 1.2 Gbps, so your modems with any of the two DOCSIS support can handle most high-speed plans in the future.
The cost of yet-to-be-launched DOCSIS 4.0 compatible modems aren’t disclosed yet, but with so many advanced features, it’s bound to be more expensive than DOCSIS 3.1.
When Is DOCSIS 4.0 Coming?
While I’m working on this modem technologies comparison, DOCSIS 4.0 isn’t out yet, and the products aren’t expected to be launched until the end of 2023. The deployments will continue further years after the release.
The prototype of the compatible modem was seen in 2019, and the path following it is much more complicated than its predecessors. This is primarily because it supports Extended Spectrum DOCSIS/Frequency Division Duplex and Full Duplex DOCSIS.
This dual compatibility has made the job much tougher, requiring intensive testing to eliminate all potential bugs.
Suggested Read: The ultimate comparison of DOCSIS 3.0 vs 3.1 vs 4.0.
Pros & Cons of DOCSIS 3.1 & Compliant Modems
- Backward compatible – allows a seamless transition from its previous version
- Uses the same coax technology as DOCSIS 3.0
- Supports light sleep modes when idle
- Minimizes packet latency over the cable network
- Much faster than DOCSIS 3.0
- Excellent ISP compatibility with DOCSIS 3.0
- Costly than its previous versions
Pros & Cons of DOCSIS 4.0 & Compliant Modems
- Reduced latency compared to its predecessors
- Greater upload speeds
- Better security and high reliability
- Backward compatible with previous versions
- Futureproof to upcoming high-speed plans
- ISPs will take huge time to implement their infrastructure
- Must be more costly
Frequently Asked Questions
The DOCSIS 3.1 standard launched in 2013 supports respective download and upload speeds up to 10 Gbps and 2 Gbps, respectively. Conversely, DOCSIS 4.0 has taken a step forward by enabling greater upload speeds of up to 6 Gbps while keeping the download speeds the same at 10 Gbps.
The latest DOCSIS version betters the previous ones with respect to channel bondings, speeds, latency, and security. However, its limited compatibility with ISPs is still a limitation.
With maximum download speed support of 10 Gbps, DOCSIS 3.1 compatible modems are viable to play high-end online games at maximum frame rates, stream 4K videos, video conferencing, and others with ease. So, in short, yes, it’s fast.
Networking companies are expected to launch the latest DOCSIS 4.0 modem by the end of 2023. But it wouldn’t be viable to purchase it on the go, as many compatible ISPs wouldn’t be available by then.
With the all-advanced and better potential of new DOCSIS yet to come, you might be wondering which version is best. DOCSIS 4.0 is a significant upgrade over 3.1 in every regard. So, if there’s a need for such high speeds and advanced capabilities, we would ask you to wait for some time and go for the advanced version.
Saying that, I’d like to bid adieu. Would love to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comments down below.
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