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Global Cable Operators Target 10Gbps Broadband Speeds for All

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019 (3:18 pm) - Score 3,299
10g cable broadband

The Internet & Television Association, which represents the global cable broadband and TV industry (CableLabs, Liberty Global etc.), has launched their new 10G vision. This is their plan for making speeds of 10Gbps (Gigabits per second) and beyond available to consumers across the globe in the “coming years.”

According to the announcement, which was made this week at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the new 10G initiative will “ultimately.. deliver symmetrical speeds that are up to 10 times faster than today’s fastest networks” (i.e. they’re using the 1Gbps services that are said to be available from most cable networks in the USA as a baseline).

Apparently many cable operators “are implementing the new 10G initiative, with lab trials already underway, and field trials beginning” as soon as 2020. In fact they’ve even setup a dedicated 10G Website to help sell their plan to the wider market and consumers. Promises of “faster speeds, more capacity, lower latency and greater security” are all well and good but, outside of the USA, the picture is a bit more mixed.

The announcement is likely to cause a few giggles here in the United Kingdom, where the best that Liberty Global’s sibling ISP – Virgin Media – can currently offer is 362Mbps (average) and there’s still no sign of their long planned DOCSIS 3.1 upgrade that could in theory make speeds of between 1Gbps and up to 10Gbps available (maybe next year.. we keep saying). At least a 500Mbps tier may be on the way first.

Back in 2016 Liberty Global launched a new initiative called GIGAWorld (here), which seemingly aimed to promote their plans for rolling out Gigabit capable broadband via DOCSIS 3.1 upgrades to all of the European countries in which it operates. At the time it said that most could be done by the end of 2018 but so far only their EU divisions in Poland and Germany have launched real products.

Suffice to say that most of their EU and UK divisions are still waiting for 1Gbps speeds via DOCSIS 3.1, let alone 10Gbps.

Michael Powell, NCTA President and CEO, said:

“With groundbreaking, scalable capacity and speeds, the 10G platform is the wired network of the future that will power the digital experiences and imaginations of consumers for years to come. As an industry, we are dedicated to delivering an exceptional national infrastructure that will power digital advancement and propel our innovation economy into the future.”

Mike Fries, CEO and Vice Chairman of Liberty Global, said:

“While the world is talking about 5G, we’re proud to be part of this extraordinary movement to 10G. We’re already launching entire Gigicities and that’s just the start. We’re building a network that leverages the strategic advantage that DOCSIS 3.1 brings, and we’re excited to utilize this world-class platform to provide a 1G to 10G playbook that will fuel innovation and the economy of the future.”

The announcement mentions symmetrical (same speed both ways) 10Gbps performance a few times and this probably needs a reality check. At present the only way to do that, without completely replacing Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) with “full fibre” (FTTP) cables, is to adopt the very latest Full Duplex variant of the DOCSIS 3.1 standard (10g FDX).

docsis hybrid fibre coax cable standards table

However 10g FDX would not be an easy beast to deploy in the United Kingdom and we don’t expect to see it for quite a long time, which is due to its stiff requirements that would demand a significant and very expensive upgrade to Virgin Media’s existing network. We can’t see that kind of work happening anytime soon.

Mind you at present 10G is really just about marketing and showing that big Cable is still relevant in an increasingly FTTP focused world. In the UK we’d be overjoyed just to see Virgin launch a 1Gbps package but that’s probably still a year or two away (possible trials notwithstanding). For now 10Gbps is just a very distant dream, at least via UK HFC networks.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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27 Responses
  1. Avatar Matthew

    I would argue a FDX upgrade to Virgin’s network would be cheaper than replacing it with FTTP but would give similar sorts of performance. But yeah your right i think Full duplex requires Node0

    • Avatar CarlT

      You are correct, Matthew. It requires node + 0. It may also require replacement of tap banks, splitters and isolators.

      Going fibre deep would cost VM in the region of 150-200 GBP/home passed.

    • Avatar Matthew

      Probably still cheaper than BT FTTH or about the same sort of cost so I’m not counting Virgin out yet. I believe DAA is also required for Full Duplex

    • Avatar CarlT

      Yes, Sir. Needs R-PHY at least.

    • Avatar Matthew

      I’ve always wondering if the lack of investment in Virgin Media hasn’t always been they want to sell up completely in europe first and then use that money. They have just sold there German, Czech, Romania, Hungary Networks. That only leaves them with UK & Ireland there joint venture in Netherlands, Belgium, Slovakia and Poland and Switzerland. Only major cable network left is the UK rest are smaller countries in terms of population and possible coverage.

    • Avatar CarlT

      It’s actually entirely about the lack of competition. They were expecting BT to move aggressively towards ultrafast via deep fibre or even mass FTTP then they did G.Fast from the copper PCPs. Absolutely no call for a gigabit when the main competition are offering up to 300Mb if you live next door to the cabinet.

    • Avatar Matthew

      Ah and now that has changed with BT doing a far more heavy FTTP and limiting G.Fast and now Vodafone and CityFibre securing the funding for a big FTTP rollout they will compete?

    • Avatar CarlT

      If these plans become a reality. Should see gigabit over cable become a thing this year. The expectation was that it would have been needed earlier. Why spend money selling a gigabit when you can sell 500Mb against competitors maxing out at 300Mb for a small proportion of the customer base you overlap in?

    • Avatar Joe

      The only danger Carl is if BT get their act together – fttp speeds can be ramped more easily than VMs tech.

    • Avatar CarlT

      The ECI hardware that ensures our move to an FTTP area will result in slower broadband than now disagrees. 🙁

  2. Avatar chris conder

    Yes the UK has to giggle, otherwise it would cry, after a decade of BT pimping fttc and superfarce which hardly works in some areas of cities let alone rural areas.

    But the altnets, that is a different story, with most of them capable of delivering 10 gig now. B4rn already has customers on 10gig connections, but the rest are currently not touching the sides of 1 gig.

    The future, as predicted in 2009 in the digital britain report is coming. But the UK hasn’t grasped it quite. They still think fibre broadband comes down phone lines.

    • Avatar CarlT

      Great, but not much use to the 28+ million premises not passed by a network other than VM or Openreach.

    • Avatar Matthew

      I don’t mean this in a bad way but what are your customers doing on 10gig connections. That is me asking a true question as well because I can’t see the usage case. Most cell towers in the UK only have that sort of connection and those are for hundreds of cells

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @Matthew

      It is just a sign of the industry recognising that data growth demand needs to be met.

      And more significantly that there is a spectrum of bandwidth demand from Joe Average who is quite happy with his 80/20 for a bit of light email and Netflix to Mr ProSumer who runs a home video editing company and needs to download and upload very large files to the people he works for.

      I don’t think it is any more than a recognition of where reality is. And the reality is that more ‘instantness’ is in very high demand in our society. People now don’t want to wait for something to down/up load. And they will not have to in some places with the growth of 1G/1G services from the Alt Nets.

      VM et al don’t want to be squeezed out of the market for the ProSumer connections so they have to have another game to deal with that.

      I suspect the reason VM are holding off upgrading anything to 3.1 is that all technology get cheaper (except for the labour element) as time goes by and better solutions become available. But a full 3.1 10G implementation is, as CarlT rightly says, going to be an awful lot of work.

      But VM have to and I suspect they will do it once their commercial toes are getting toasted or at least singed a bit but the competition.

    • Avatar Matthew

      @A_Builder

      So what you are saying you think full 3.1 will come when Virgin find themselves in the situation BT is in now where they have to put the money down before they lose position. From what I’ve calculated UK and Ireland after current Vodafone Sale and Sat deals in Eastern Europe will be over 50% of LibertyGlobal Earnings but I get your point.

    • Avatar CarlT

      3.1 in the UK will be a thing before the end of the year. Not the same as FDX sadly. That’s a very different story.

    • Avatar Spurple

      @carlT,

      Anything better than my current upload speed will be welcome with open arms. So for me, merely upgrading to 3.1 would be good news.

    • Avatar CarlT

      3.1 won’t touch your upload speeds unless they deploy it upstream too. Their parent company has only deployed it downstream so far 🙁

    • Avatar Joe

      Demand for better upload is tiny so I agree little joy there.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @CarlT

      But at the end of the day VM’s hand may be forced by the Alt Nets 1G/1G offerings

      Where VM start to loose the nice juicy business VoomMax (or whatever it is called at the moment) packages then there will be commercial pressure to do something about the upload speeds so better things can and will happen. And likewise with the top rate domestic packages. It is those packages that are the cream for any ISP, partiualrly given how cheap backhaul and how much Liberty do their own peering.

      Although I suspect that given the expense of unifying the disparate VM estate for 1G upload it will be done piecemeal. And we will probably see the new segments of FTTPesque VM network upgraded first as there will be little cost to doing that.

    • Avatar CarlT

      Yes. 3.1 upstream on the FTTP areas is easy. On the HFC areas it’s not much more difficult. Those already go up to 85 MHz return. They can go to 204 with switch out of a field upgradeable module.

      The older areas require more substantial work. VM could release 3.1 downstream in a number of areas within days. They could release 3.1 upstream to a number of areas rapidly, but with limits. Full on 3.1 upstream to anything built as a new build within Project Lightning. Other networks will need overbuild.

      Can do downstream 3.1 on most of them with no network upgrade.

  3. Avatar John

    Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. I also wonder where the domestic consumer demand is coming from. What are the home applications, whether real or conceivable, current or in the future, that will generate the need for such data rates delivered by networks that will be massively expensive to develop?

    • Avatar Spurple

      I just want my downloads and uploads to finish faster.

      In general, I always think my home wifi is fast (867mbps when in the same room as AP) until the once or twice a year when I need to do a restore from my NAS.

      Same thing with Internet. When I’m feeling frugal, I mull the idea of downgrading my package to save £5 a month, until a game I want to play is released and, finally wrestling some time from my family, I start downloading all 50GB of it. Those are the moments I keep the fastest connection I can afford for.

      Many years ago, I used to queue up downloads and wait days for them to complete. May those days be forever gone and may the Force bring faster and faster connections to my corner of the country

    • Avatar That guy

      I don’t get how people don’t see picture in a whole.
      I am always jealous for high speeds world is offering. I believe it is a shitty tactics to say: “Look, GB has great speeds compared to Ghana!” We are not in Ghana, we are in EU and speeds are high in EU. Romania, Baltic States have gigabit speeds at home for years.

      The other argument (which I think it’s general problem for people): “I don’t need that – nobody needs that!”. If someone don’t need speeds, doesn’t mean that others don’t need.

      Look, even if have excess of your traffic, you could share that with others. The are several projects, based on mesh network sharing. Wouldn’t you want to have great speeds of internet on your mobile phone while walking on streets? I want. I do think YouTube could use less compressed codec to show nicer picture. I do think I should upload my videos in high quality without waiting to get home. (I want my videos in 50-100mbps rate).
      I want infant sharing of pictures and videos with my family and friends. You might want to open newspapers and be happy with that, most people need high speeds, even if they don’t understand that videos and pictures do consume space.

    • Avatar CarlT

      Speeds tend to be very variable in Baltic states. That wouldn’t be tolerated here either by the regulators or by most people.

  4. Avatar GucciGang

    This is just panic since 5G could easily replace traditional cable/phone companies entire infrastructure. D Link unveiled their new 5G wireless router which would work off a SIM card much like EE’s current 4G Wi-fi but offer 1Gbs speeds

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @GucciGang

      I suspect there is a degree of truth in what you say.

      Planning now to move fast if 5G does become widespread is sensible so VM or whoever can stay ahead of the curve.

      It was a bit like the rollout of VDSL2+ which only really went into overdrive when 4G was on the horizon and it was getting pretty obvious, even to BT’s copperheads, that ADSL and ADSL+ were not going to cut it given the upstream speeds never mind the downstream.

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