ITU Approves Next-Gen Cable Modem Standards

On the heels of a major agreement among cable providers and set-top box makers regarding digital broadcasting standards, the International Telecommunications Union has reached agreement on DOCSIS 2.0 standards for data-over-cable systems.

The new standard is expected to serve as the foundation for integrating voice-over-IP and other telephony services within cable networks, in addition to improved speeds for broadband access, the group said.

The ITU, a major technical standards organization, called the completion of “Recommendation J.122” for the Data over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) 2.0 a “major milestone” in the development of broadband infrastructure across worldwide cable systems.

The group said the enhancements in the next-generation cable modem standards are focused on upstream transmissions from the customer back to the network.

Cable and technology observers have often described the connection from cable operators to customers’ homes as a pipe on the way in, and a straw on the way back to the cable plant. However, the new standard is expected to help increase upstream capacity as cable operators try to leverage their existing infrastructure and network investments.

The new specifications are built on two main technologies: an advanced form of time-division multiple access, or TDMA and synchronous code-division multiple access, or CDMA .

The group said the new DOCSIS 2.0 international standard is compatible with earlier versions such as the DOCSIS 1.1 versions now in use across many cable systems.

The latest specifications are expected to give cable operators the ability to offer speeds up to 600 times faster than are available through standard dial-up telephone modems.

The DOCSIS 2.0 standard approval was announced as a major group of consumer electronics and cable companies reached agreement on standards for migrating from analog to digital broadcasting signals without the need for ancillary cable products such as set-top converter boxes.

Separately, CableLabs, the industry consortium that promotes the DOCSIS standard and interoperability of cable technology, said it has awarded certification status for DOCSIS 2.0 compliance during the recently completed round of certification testing.

Rouzbeh Yassini, executive consultant to CableLabs and head of its Broadband Access initiative, said the consortium has seen more than 20 million DOCSIS modems shipped to nearly every continent, which has helped bring prices for the cable modems down.

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