DOCSIS 3.0 vs 3.1 version – Which DOCSIS version Modem Should You Pick?

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Primarily, the company named CableLabs developed the DOCSIS standard. However, its success drove tech giants like Arris, Comcast, Cisco, Netgear, and Intel to contribute to its enhancement.

Over the years, many versions have been revealed. However, nowadays, DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 mainly govern the telecommunication industry. Today we will dive deep into DOCSIS 3.0 vs. 3.1 to know which is better and why.

What is DOCSIS Technology?

Before you can understand the evaluation of DOCSIS 3.0 vs. 3.1, you need to understand what DOCSIS is and how it works. The acronym DOCSIS expands to Data Over Cable Service Interface Specifications. It is a globally recognized telecommunication standard that allows transferring high-bandwidth data via cable modems.

A typical TV channel transmits both data and multimedia services over cable lines. The user utilizing a cable network connects his computer to a modem. Once the setup is complete, the computer gains an IP address. Stream of data flows through the cable channel, and the modem extracts the internet part and supplies it to your PC.

What Is DOCSIS 3.0?

Now you have all the necessary information for understanding the side-by-side comparison of DOCSIS 3.0 vs. 3.1. DOCSIS 3.0 is a telecom standard introduced in 2006 as an upgraded version of DOCSIS 2.0. The standard gained hype quickly as it provided download speeds up to 1 Gbps which is significantly higher than DOCSIS 2.0 with only 40 Mbps.

DOCSIS 3.0 offers an upload speed capacity of 200 Mbps, while DOCSIS 2.0 provides only 30 Mbps. Additionally, DOCSIS 3.0 is compatible with IPv6 by default. In the case of DOCSIS 2.0, you have to upgrade the firmware to support the IPv6 protocol.

Gamers preferred DOCSIS 3.0 as it offered the needed speed and download capacity. Moreover, high-quality streaming and live video playing applications work smoothly with DOCSIS 3.0. Since its predecessor lacked the desired speeds, the DOCSIS 3.0 quickly earned the respect of both users and service providers.

What Is DOCSIS 3.1?

Released in 2013, DOCSIS 3.1 is an upgrade to DOCSIS 3.0. The standard is significantly renowned for its higher speeds. DOCSIS 3.1 provides an upload capacity of 1Gbps while the download capacity is 10Gbps. It is incredibly faster than all the previously available standards. That is why nowadays, users tend to pick modems with DOCSIS 3.1 compatibility.

Let’s dig deeper to understand more about DOCSIS 3.0 vs. 3.1. Unlike its predecessors, DOCSIS 3.1 uses the queue management system to manage the connected devices. That is why it has incredibly low latency levels. Its speed makes it perfect for gig internet plans.

DOCSIS 3.0 vs. 3.1 Technology Modems – Which One Should You Pick?

DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 are modem standards. When you buy a modem, the seller asks which modem standard you want. But, of course, you can’t tell him which one if you are unaware of the nitty-gritty of DOCSIS. Below is a systematic comparison of different aspects of each standard. Without any more delay, let’s compare them!

Speed Capacity

The most crucial comparison in DOCSIS 3.0 vs. 3.1 is the speed each protocol offers. Although their speeds are incomparable, it will help understand how fast 3.1 is from 3.0. The upstream speed of DOCSIS 3.0 is 200 Mbps, and that of DOCSIS 3.1 is 1 Gbps. The 3.1 version is present in most modern-day modems as they offer up to 2 Gbps upload stream capacity.

Next comes the download capacity. DOCSIS 3.1 which is extended to 10 Gbps, while the 3.0 version offers only 1 Gbps. Doing the simple math, you can say, DOCSIS 3.1 is ten times faster than 3.0.

Latency

Latency is the time taken by a device to respond to a command. Increased latency levels ruin the user experience and are not fit for applications requiring higher bandwidths. In contrast, lower latency levels mean smoother working and fewer hiccups.

DOCSIS 3.0 has a latency of 30 milliseconds. Although it may not seem like much. But higher latency levels cause trouble in real-time applications. For instance, you can observe the delay more vividly in online gaming. On the other side, DOCSIS 3.1 offers a latency time of 10 milliseconds. It is significantly fast and, ultimately, more reliable.

Channel Bonding

You can try understanding channel bonds as traffic lanes. The more lanes a road has, the more cars can travel without further complications. Similarly, modems contain channels to transmit data traffic. When working your way through DOCSIS 3.0 vs. 3.1, you’ll notice that DOCSIS 3.0 is available with different versions of channel bonding. The common ones are 8×4, 16×8, 24×8, and 32×8.

The DOCSIS 3.1 has a channel bonding of 32 by 8 or 8 by 4. Note that in channel bonding representation, the first digit represents the download speed while the second digit signifies the upload speed. Simply speaking, higher channel bonding means more traffic.

Privacy and Security

When dealing with internet commodities, security and privacy are primary concerns. Let’s see how secure each standard is. Although the technical details lie beyond the scope of the article, both the standards have security and theft protection. However, DOCSIS 3.1 provides more advanced malware and spyware protection than DOCSIS 3.0.

Overall Throughput

Throughput in the technology means the efficiency of the device. It is another impactful factor when assessing DOCSIS 3.0 vs. 3.1. In networking, throughput mainly refers to the amount of data transferred between different devices or the number of users a modem can serve in a unit of time.

DOCSIS 3.0 has a throughput of 256-QAM, while the DOCSIS provides 50 percent more. The value sums to 4096-QAM, to be exact.

Longevity

DOCSIS 3.0 is decreasing in demand and will soon become obsolete. However, DOCSIS 3.1 is more common. Since DOCSIS 3.1 came in 2013, most ISPs will likely use it in the upcoming decade. So, if you want to invest in a modem with more extended compatibility buying one with 3.1 compatibilities is best.

Highs and Lows of DOCSIS 3.0 Vs. 3.1

Now you have plenty of knowledge to make an educated decision about picking the correct modem standard. However, if you don’t have the time to dive deep, you can quickly review the pros and cons of DOCSIS 3.1 and 3.0.

Advantages of DOCSIS 3.0

Less Expensive

DOCSIS 3.0 modems come with a lower price tag than DOCSIS 3.1 modems. Therefore, primarily users with a limited budget prefer the equipment with 3.0 standard. Moreover, it provides a good speed which satisfies most common internet users and applications.

Availability

Modems with DOCSIS 3.0 are readily available. You can find thousands of models on both online and offline sources. In comparison, modems with DOCSIS 3.1 technology are hard to find.

Reliability

The last feature in DOCSIS 3.0 VS 3.1 comparison is reliability. Although DOCSIS 3.1 provides more speed and reliability. But they come with a higher upfront. Therefore, many ISPs have not yet shifted to the standard.

Disadvantages of DOCSIS 3.0

Lesser Speeds

The major con of DOCSIS 3.0 is the slower speed. As the gadgets shift towards higher resolution multimedia and fast transmission, slower speeds don’t work suitably. Therefore, users with the need for increased speeds prefer DOCSIS 3.1.

More Latency

DOCSIS 3.0 has high latency levels. On average, the latency time is about 20ms. However, it doesn’t seem much impactful to a regular user. But it is adverse for gamers and other high-demanding users.

Advantages of DOCSIS 3.1

Although, it is evident in the DOCSIS 3.0 vs. 3.1 progression that DOCSIS 3.1 is satisfying user needs while 3.0 is not. However, a summary will help scan the most relevant information.

Higher Speed

DOCSIS 3.1 provides more download and upload speeds than 3.0. Hence, it can transmit the full potential of the internet plan. Which is a major requirement for modern applications.

Reduced Latency

Next comes the significantly lower latency levels absent in DOCSIS 3.0. Therefore, the 3.1 standard functions well when you need extreme responsiveness.

Backward Compatible and Future Proof

The DOCSIS 3.0 is not compatible with the preceding standards. It means if you try to operate a DOCSIS 3.0 internet plan with DOCSIS 2.0 modem, it won’t work. In contrast, a modem with 3.1 standards is compatible with DOCSIS 3.0. Moreover, it is future safe, and most ISPs can use it for a longer time.

Cons of DOCSIS 3.1

Expensive

Since DOCSIS 3.1 is a newer technology, its modems are expensive. Moreover, you’ll need to put in a little more effort to find a model with 3.1 standards, as most ISPs rent out DOCSIS 3.0 modems usually.

Addressing Issues 

Modems using the DOCSIS 3.1 standard have two ports. These may cause IP addressing confusion if used simultaneously. Hence, you’ll need two IP addresses for the device. In contrast, such issues are not present in DOCSIS 3.0.

The Bottom Line

DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 are two versions of the same standard. However, they vary significantly in several aspects. Therefore, it’s best to deeply research DOCSIS 3.0 vs. 3.1 to make a wise decision.

Each standard has its pluses. For instance, the 3.1 is best for higher speeds, while the 3.0 is more suitable for a limited budget. Picking an appropriate DOCSIS is essential because an incompatible level of DOCSIS will not provide the needed internet speed. However, the DOCSIS 3.1 makes a versatile choice. It is reliable, efficient, and more future-proof than the 3.0 standard.

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