On Monday CableLabs  announced a three-tiered program for qualification of Data over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) 3.0 cable modem termination systems (CMTS). DOCSIS 3.0 modems will have only one level of certification that will be representative of compliance with the completed DOCSIS modem specification. It is anticipated that DOCSIS 3.0 CMTSs and cable modems will be submitted as early as Q4 of this year. In the meantime, CableLabs will host a number of interoperability events.

The CMTS qualification testing approach would waive some of the more advanced DOCSIS 3.0 CMTS requirements for the entry level of qualification as a way to encourage CMTS makers to submit gear for testing earlier than they otherwise might. DOCSIS 3.0 CMTS qualifications will be Bronze, Silver and Full.  Full DOCSIS 3.0 compliance will ultimately be the sole certification level for CMTS vendors since the two lower levels of qualification will be phased out as the full suite of criteria are made available by vendors.

DOCSIS 3.0 specifications describe downstream data rates of 160 Mbps or higher and upstream data rates of 120 Mbps or higher. To achieve these higher data rates DOCSIS 3.0 describes a methodology for channel bonding in both the upstream and downstream directions. DOCSIS 3.0 also incorporates support for the Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6). IPv6 is the next generation of the Internet Protocol and greatly expands the number of Internet addresses that cable operators may use, allowing them to provide consumers with more IP-based services.

“We expect fully compliant DOCSIS 3.0 modem submissions to arrive at our labs along with a range of CMTS submissions in the fourth quarter of this year,” said Ralph Brown, Chief Technology Officer at CableLabs. “We are implementing this change in our program as a way to accelerate certification and interoperability of 3.0 modems and headend equipment. The intent is to more quickly enable our members to compete effectively in the very high-speed broadband data marketplace,” he added.

 “High-speed broadband is a very important business to our company and to the cable industry and we added this flexibility with DOCSIS 3.0 to ensure that we remain nimble in our pursuit of a very satisfied customer,” said Comcast Chief Technology Officer Tony Werner. “Consumers can rest assured of the quality of the cable modems that will be on the market for DOCSIS 3.0.”

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