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CableLabs, the research arm of the cable TV business, is announcing today that it is enabling full-duplex speeds on cable-delivered internet services. That means that your upload streams — which have typically been a lot slower — will be just as fast as your download streams.

The CableLabs technology works on hybrid fiber-cable (HFC) networks, which deliver high-speed data, video, voice, and other services. CableLabs has completed a specification for Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1, the standard for cable modem internet delivery.

The improvement will enable symmetric 10-gigabit-per-second services over existing HFC lines. In short, it gives cable TV companies more ammo as they battle the phone industry and other internet providers to attract and retain consumers.

CableLabs’ Full Duplex DOCSIS technology will help cable operators get ready to meet future usage needs for technologies such as virtual and augmented reality.


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The previous CableLabs standard, DOCSIS 3.1, enabled 10-gigabit-per-second downstream speeds for internet data and 1-gigabit-per-second upstream.

“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, president and CEO of CableLabs, in a statement. “By enabling Full Duplex DOCSIS, the upstream and downstream traffic can flow at up to 10 gigabits concurrently, doubling the efficiency of spectrum use.”

In current DOCSIS networks, spectrum is typically split between the upstream and downstream, or spectrum is shared between upstream and downstream traffic. Full duplex communication enables upstream and downstream traffic to efficiently use the same spectrum simultaneously, which can be beneficial for residential and business services.

For businesses, in particular, symmetric services can improve network efficiency, which can, in turn, improve the customer experience on business websites.

The evolution also eliminates the need to deploy fiber to the home, while still maintaining backward compatibility with previous generations of DOCSIS technology.

The Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1 specification effort was initially announced by CableLabs in February 2016. The update to DOCSIS 3.1 — including the complete Full Duplex DOCSIS specification — will be published on the CableLabs website later this month.

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