Ready, Set, 4.0: Tooling Up for DOCSIS Technology’s Rollout

DOCSIS 4.0 Tools

Jason Rupe
Distinguished Technologist

Sep 19, 2023

DOCSIS® 4.0 deployment is almost here. Are you ready?

Fortunately, CableLabs is getting more prepared every day. A DOCSIS 4.0 Tools and Readiness working group has been hard at work, focused solely on this new technology and aiding operators in deploying it. The working group, part of SCTE’s Network Operations Subcommittee, has been preparing for deployment for several months and will continue that work as the industry learns more about how to build, deploy and operate services on DOCSIS 4.0 networks.

CableLabs, SCTE, and several operators and vendors are collaborating to assure timely delivery of available knowledge to assist operators as they prepare to deploy DOCSIS 4.0 technology. And that technology is almost here.

In July, CableLabs completed an Interop·Labs event to prove DOCSIS 4.0 cable modems can function as intended with DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem termination systems (CMTSs). Anticipating this development, CableLabs and industry colleagues — many of whom participate in SCTE Working Group 5 (WG5) — released a public document that shared our knowledge thus far and our plans for future development of capabilities and tools.

Proactive DOCSIS 4.0 Strategies

WG5’s report, “Cable Operator Preparations for DOCSIS 4.0 Technology Deployment,” assumes that the technology is not readily available yet, so the technology addresses what operators can do now to prepare. It focuses on network operations, covering early preparations and assessment of network segments and customers. The report also dives deeper into details to find the best early implementation locations and discusses how to make use of information available from the existing DOCSIS 3.1 networks.

With this technical report, we’re helping the cable community prepare their networks and operations for this new technology, which will enable the 10G platform of the future. Operators are already getting started.

“DOCSIS 4.0 represents a significant technological step forward,” said Will Berger, vice president of Telemetry Development for Charter Communications, a CableLabs member company. “By preparing now, operators can gain a valuable head start on what will be a collective challenge for the industry. While the technical aspects of this evolution are well-known, the opportunity to gain valuable operational preparation time is critical to ensuring a smooth transition to the 10G future.”

So, what happens next? WG5 is focusing on several important problems that we expect could emerge in early deployments of DOCSIS 4.0 technology. Some of these issues include:

  • Interference due to higher transmission levels.
  • Noise that occurs in new frequencies and new directions in the access network.
  • Frequencies that are blocked due to legacy hardware in the network.
  • Signal impairments that might reveal themselves at higher frequencies or at higher power.
  • Leakage that might occur at new frequencies and interfere with new higher-frequency bands.
  • How to operate new amplifiers and echo cancelers.
  • How to manage the profiles in this new and complex network technology.

In addition, as we learn the severity and nature of any problems in these areas, we’ll be thinking about how to use our existing tools as well as what other tools we’ll need to develop to maintain our networks at the high degree of quality needed to support DOCSIS 4.0 services.

Collaborating for Industry Impact

If all this seems daunting, you’re right. In fact, we could use your help. If you’re in the cable industry, consider joining and contributing your knowledge and expertise to the working group. It’s an opportunity to learn at the earliest possible time what problems are becoming most significant, which methods are working or not working, which techniques may be automated into tools and which approaches require new vendor tools.

Working groups are part of the SCTE Standards program, a resource that is available to employees of our member companies as part of the complimentary CableLabs All Access Benefits program. To learn more and join the DOCSIS 4.0 Tools and Readiness working group, click the button below. 

As you work to prepare and operate DOCSIS 4.0 technologies in your network, give yourself a head start by learning from others what works and what doesn’t. Better yet, share your ideas to get feedback faster and focus your efforts, while also helping others along the challenging path of technology evolution.

Also, for more about optimizing our networks, join “PNM Live!,” a panel discussion at SCTE® Cable-Tec Expo® on October 18. Experts, including CableLabs’ Jason Rupe, will discuss proactive network maintenance and how we can solve problems before customers are impacted.