If you have been contemplating a new modem purchase off-late, it might just be the time to hold for a while. You can always opt for DOCSIS 3.1 modems to take care of almost every existing and futuristic networking requirement. Yet, what if I told you that DOCSIS 4.0 technology is almost here, waiting to be unleashed across networking devices in the near future.
I am sure you will wait then. And even be interested in learning more about the DOCSIS 4.0 specifications, maximum speed limits, features, and more. And if you are still unsure where we are going with this, consider DOCSIS 4.0 as the next-gen of networking that trumps the high-speed DOCSIS 3.1, a technology powering some of the most premium modems in 2022.
DOCSIS 4.0 is important as it plans to take the capabilities of DOCSIS 3.1 and amplify them, multifold. Plus, DOCSIS 4.0 max speed limits will focus on an oft-neglected area of internet usage — the upload speeds. But that’s not it. There is a lot more like the concept, low-latency, etc. And I plan on covering everything necessary across the subsequent sections.
What is DOCSIS 4.0?
First things first, the first part of this next-gen technology is still Data over Cable Service Interface, which is a relevant Broadband market terminology. DOCSIS, or as you know it, is an incremental technology with each suffix, say 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 signifying an increase in the overall speed limits, both upstream and downstream.
DOCSIS 4.0 aims to carry this tradition forwards by enhancing the downstream and upstream speed limits significantly. The highs of DOCSIS 4.0 are measured in relation to the DOCSIS 3.1, which supplies broadband over coaxial cables.
DOCSIS 4.0, on the other hand, helps you with broadband capabilities over HFC (Hybrid Fiber Coaxial), thereby helping users experience multi-gig throughput with ease.
And while DOCSIS 3.1 is capable of reaching max downstream and upstream speeds of 10Gbps and 1.5Gbps, respectively, DOCSIS 4.0 tries to spice up the upload speed limits, enhancing the limit by four times to 6Gbps.
From a tech perspective, DOCSIS 4 assumes two different flavors as per user requirements. The first one is the Full Duplex or FDX variant that aims to amplify the upstream capabilities by 6Gbps, as mentioned above. Simply put, the FDX flavor aims to make the internet services symmetrical by enhancing upstream capabilities like the downstream ones.
However, if amplifying upstream speeds isn’t a priority, DOCSIS 4.0 even offers the Extended-Spectrum or ESD flavor, allowing you to maximize just the downstream capabilities by merely increasing the frequency range to even 1.8GHz. This flavor aims to minimize interference and improve throughputs further.
DOCSIS 4.0 Specifications
The aim of DOCSIS 4.0 is to maximize speeds, improve the reliability of connections, and keep latency to the lowest possible limit. And it plans to achieve all these with bare minimum cabling.
Just so you know, here are the specifications to take care of before you pin your hopes on the DOCSIS 4.0 standard:
1. DOCSIS 4.0 Speed Limits
If you plan to embrace DOCSIS 4.0 just for the speeds, there isn’t much to talk about, especially on paper. With DOCSIS 4.0 Full-Duplex flavor, you can experience upstream speeds of up to 6Gbps, which is quite a bump over the 1.5Gbps speed limit offered by the DOCSIS 3.1.
The DOCSIS 4.0 max speed limit for downstream remains the same as DOCSIS 3.1 at 10Gbps. Yet, the latency is on the lower side, courtesy of the ESD flavor with enhanced transmission zones that range between 85Mhz and 240Mhz.
2. Low-Latency DOCSIS Technology
Even before this section, I have been talking about the low-latency traits of the DOCSIS 4.0 technology. The low-latency DOCSIS or LLD specifications ensure that data in the case of DOCSIS 4.0 travels from one point to the other in under 1ms.
The ESD flavor of DOCSIS 4.0 ensures lower-than-usual latency, especially by reducing the latency speeds to under 5ms even in the most congested networks— all thanks to the beefier transmission channels in play.
3. Backward Compatibility
Despite the talks regarding the Hybrid Fiber Cable setup, backward compatibility has to be one of the more important DOCSIS 4.0 specifications. This attribute would allow 90% of the existing US households to adopt the same if and when the technology is available for general consumption. In simple words, DOCSIS 4.0 will work with the existing cable or rather a coaxial infrastructure.
DOCSIS 4.0 vs DOCSIS 3.1
Here are some of the major differences between the DOCSIS 4.0 and DOCSIS 3.1 technology:
- An enhanced upstream speed limit of 6Gbps
- Improved upstream and downstream speeds, courtesy of the wider spectrums to work with
- Improved AQM (Active Queue Management) support for better data and bandwidth allocation
- Enhanced security
Also, here is a detailed table to help you understand the differences between all the DOCSIS iterations:
|Parameters||DOCSIS 1.0||DOCSIS 1.1||DOCSIS 2.0||DOCSIS 3.0||DOCSIS 3.1||DOCSIS 4.0|
|Downstream Speed Capping||40Mbps||40Mbps||40Mbps||1Gbps||10Gbps||10Gbps|
|Date of Issue||1996||1999||2001||2006||2013||2019|
|Major Specs||Standard Internet Access||Internet + VoIP+ Gaming + Streaming||Better Uploads||Channel Bonding,|
IPv6, Better Performance
|Improved Transmission Capacity|
|Everything of other DOCSIS Versions
Higher Upload Speeds
When Will DOCSIS 4.0 Be Released?
As of now, there is not a single DOCSIS 4.0 modem on the market. Also, for DOCSIS 4.0 and faster upload and download speeds to become a reality, most cable service providers should first launch multi-Gig internet plans based on this latest modem technology.
In 2022, you can expect brands like Motorola and Arris to launch cable modems and gateway devices with DOCSIS 4.0 technology, bolstered further by link aggregation support and better wireless capabilities.
And even if the service provider doesn’t offer multi-Gig speeds, DOCSIS 4.0-inspired devices might just allow you to connect a higher number of devices, thereby improving Wi-Fi and multiplexing capabilities.
Frequently Asked Questions
As per the latest timeline, DOCSIS 4.0 as a network standard might show up across networking devices by the end of 2022 or in early 2023.
DOCSIS 4.0 modems, much like the DOCSIS 4.0 technology, might show up by the end of 2022. However, companies will wait for the service providers to come up with faster internet plans to help users unlock the true potential of DOCSIS 4.0.
DOCSIS 4.0 offers 4 times higher upload speeds as compared to the DOCSIS 3.1. This feature makes the internet services more symmetrical in nature.
DOCSIS 4.0 standard, all thanks to the ESD flavor, makes way for wider transmission channels for downstream and upstream data transfers. Therefore, even if you do not want higher upload speeds, you can expect DOCSIS 4.0 to lower gaming latency and improve downstream throughput almost significantly.
DOCSIS 4.0 networking standard isn’t just an enhancement over the older DOCSIS technologies. In fact, this is one of the few standards that takes upstream speeds into consideration, thereby sparing a thought for online education, video conferencing, and other relevant services.
And while I do not have the official DOCSIS 4.0 release date with me, it is a matter of time that this technology and relevant devices become mainstream. However, for now, you can still opt for the DOCSIS 3.1 networking devices, depending on the current ISP offerings.