What is DOCSIS and What is Its Significance?

What is DOCSIS and What is Its Significance?

What is DOCSIS

Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification, abbreviated as DOCSIS, refers to an international standard governing the telecommunication industry. The standard helps internet users to access the Internet through a cable modem from a coaxial cable TV system that has already been set up.

DOCSIS is of great help to the users and the providers of the Internet since with it, increasing internet speed doesn’t necessarily need a full replacement of the existing network of coaxial cables.

Each modem features a certain DOCSIS standard, a consideration that the consumers ought to take into account while buying modems. The best modem for your internet connection is not necessarily the one with the latest DOCSIS standard, but rather the one that corresponds to the quality of your network.


The Essentials of DOCSIS

DOCSIS standard was formed for the first time in the year 1997 and has since then been modified several times. The initial development of the standard was courtesy of CableLabs and various companies consisting of 3Com, Time Warner Cable, BigBand Networks,  Cisco, Netgear, Motorola and Hitron Technologies, among others.

DOCSIS is an overarching technology comprising various hardware pieces such as a cable modem and a cable modem termination system, among others. The former is located in the building of the internet user while the latter is situated somewhere else, mostly at the headend or hubsite of a cable company. A hubsite IS the major supply point of Internet connectivity from a cable company to its consumers.

Now that you have a rough idea of what DOCSIS is, let’s see how the hardware and software aspects of the technology function to enable Internet connectivity from hubsites to consumers.


The functioning of DOCSIS

DOCSIS contains two major components, the first one being the physical (PHY) layer while the second one is the media access control (MAC) layer. The physical layer comprises the equipment used for wiring as well as routing and also the frequency of data transmission via different physical systems.

Although the performance of internet connections improves with the increase in data transmission speeds, the relationship between the two variables can change as a result of restrictions concerning the physical distance of the transmission. The impact of the limitations on internet connections is significant in places where the installation of the cable modems supporting DOCSIS, among other infrastructure, is possible. The restrictions do not only affect connection speeds but also the price of internet connections.

On the other hand, media access control layer is designed in a way that enables it to intuitively accommodate any magnitude of information processing at any particular moment. The design of the layer helps in the prevention of traffic jams on a network resulting from collision amongst signals.

Every network device possesses a MAC address which functions as at its own stoplight for easy identification from an imaginary “city” of other devices with which it is accessing certain information. The major role of MAC addresses and DOCSIS network in the “city” is to maintain order and create coherence amongst the involved network devices.

Perhaps you are wondering how the understanding of the basic DOCSIS concepts is important to you; we’ll if so, here are the answers.


The importance of understanding DOCSIS

While you may be tempted to think that the familiarization with DOCSIS is not important for mere internet users like you but rather significant to techies, the fact of the matter is that it has a remarkable impact on the set up your network. Therefore, basic knowledge about the technology is paramount for the smooth-running of your network in various aspects.

At some point, you may find that company providing you with cable internet is offering higher-speed internet but you the DOCSIS standard supported by your device may prevent you from benefiting from the improved internet speeds. However, in some areas, you may not be able to exploit the improved internet speeds even if the DOCSIS standard of your device is compatible with the speeds. In such as case, the incompatibility of the infrastructure’s speed limitations with the newer technology is to blame.

DOCSIS has been modified thrice, the first iteration being 1.x, the second one is 2.x, while the third is 3.x. Initially, its specs were 1.0 and 1.1 and their down speed working limit was 38 Mbps while the up speeds were 9 Mbps.

Created in the year 2002, DOCSIS 2.0 resulted from the need of increased flexibility by cable internet providers due to their improved internet speeds as well as extra service tiers. Although the new standard had no impact on the down speeds of internet connections, it made the up speed to increase up to  30 Mbps.

The year 2008 brought about great improvements to DOCSIS as it is when DOCSIS 3.0 was created. The new iteration resulted in a remarkable increase on both the up as well as the down speeds.

While the up speed went up to 1.2 Gbps, the down speed increased to 200 Mbps as a result of the new version. Besides, the standard also brought along channel bonding, a technology which allows the combination of multiple downstream as well as upstream channels for improved speeds on both sides.


Let’s give a real-life illustration of your quick understanding:

Assuming you are using a modem which supports DOCSIS 2.x, in such a case, you’ll only be able to use just one download channel plus one upload channel. With such a modem, you are likely to experience extremely low download and upload speeds in case there’s network congestion.

On the other hand, with a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem, you can enjoy high upstream and downstream speeds even in the midst of high “traffic jams” since you have several channel options to choose from during the peak activity times. When one channel is facing congestion, you can switch to the clearer one for better speeds.


The newest DOCSIS standard

The DOCSIS standard that has been released recently is DOCSIS 3.1. Released in 2016, the iteration comes with increased download speeds of up to 10 Gbps and upload speeds to 1 Gbps. Nevertheless, the creation of  DOCSIS 3.1 Full Duplex is in the process. The upcoming version will have equal download and upload speeds, each of them being 10 Gbps.


What lies ahead?

With continued technological advancements that the world has been experiencing, DOCSIS will certainly keep on changing to embrace the upcoming services, user demand as well as new technologies. For that reason, as a savvy internet user, you ought to keep abreast with the developments of the standard to establish the changes that may be of the most significant help for your networking needs.