Perhaps one day we will have access to fiber-optic networks. In the meantime, CableLabs, the research and development company behind the evolving DOCSIS standard, announced it has completed its Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1 specification, which significantly increases upstream capacity.
The updated spec enables a theoretical peak upload speed of 10Gbps, matching the 10Gbps download capability of the DOCSIS 3.1 spec. More importantly, the update paves the way for symmetric multi-gigabit services over existing hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) technology.
"In the United States, more than 90 percent of households are connected to an HFC network, and consumers typically have higher download speeds than upload speeds," said Phil McKinney (opens in new tab), president and chief executive officer of CableLabs. "By enabling Full Duplex DOCSIS, the upstream and downstream traffic can flow at up to 10 gigabits concurrently, doubling the efficiency of spectrum use."
There is more at play here than just super-fast upload speeds. In current DOCSIS networks, spectrum is typically split or shared between the upstream and downstream. By enabling full duplex support and separating these lanes of traffic, networks can run more efficiently and even offer faster downloads.
The updated spec is really a play for the future. Splitting or sharing spectrum works for how we use broadband today, but according to CableLabs, emerging technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality could change things. That is where full duplex over existing HFC networks could be a potential benefit, especially as upload performance becomes more important than it is now.
With the specification now complete, deployment could take place by the end of the year, though it will probably be several more years before full duplex DOCSIS 3.1 is widely available.