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Difference between DOCSIS 3.0 DOCSIS 3.1 and DOCSIS 4.0

This page compares DOCSIS 3.0 vs DOCSIS 3.1 vs DOCSIS 4.0 and mentions difference between DOCSIS 3.0, DOCSIS 3.1 and DOCSIS 4.0.

Introduction: DOCSIS is the short form of Data Over cable Service Interface Specification. It is an internation telecom standard which allows high bandwidth data over existing cable television system. Telecom operators use existing HFC (Hybrid Fiber Coaxial) network to provide internet services to consumers. The standard specifications have been developed by CableLabs in collaboration with many other companies which include Cisco, Broadcom, Intel, Netgear, Texas Instruments, ARRIS, Comcast, 3Com etc. The first version of DOCSIS 1.0 released in March 1997. It followed DOCSIS 1.1, 2.0, 3.0, 3.1 and 4.0.


Following are the features of DOCSIS 3.0.
• Baseband focused, single channel QAM
• Uses QAM, entire channel consumed during single CM (Cable Modem) use.
• Channel bonding, dynamic frequency assignment, modular CMTS, enhanced security supported
• Lower latency, reduced packet loss, IPv6 support, better diagnostics, multicast support etc.
• PMD (Physical Media Dependency Layer) specification : Uses 64 QAM to 256 QAM which use 6 to 8 bits to represent binary data.
• Channel width : Downstream frequencies used are from 54 to 1002 MHz, It utilizes fixed 6 MHz wide channel.


Following are the features of DOCSIS 3.1.
• Broadband focused, multi-channel QAM,
• Uses OFDM, unique frequencies available for concurrent use
• Spectrum Management available
• PMD specification : In downstream, PMD defines 64QAM to 16384 QAM which use 6 to 14 bits to represent binary data. In upstream, PMD defines 16QAM to 4096 QAM which use 4 to 12 bits to represent binary data. It also uses BPSK or QPSK to represent 2 or 3 bits to map data. It also utilizes OFDM technique which assigns different subcarrier frequencies for concurrent upstream transmission.
• MAC specification : Provides security extensions at DL (Data Link) layer, allows CMTS (Cable Modem Termination System) to control bandwidth allocation, negotiates access to US (Upstream) channel when CM data transmission is pending, Supports performance options such as variable length packets and traffic prioritization (QoS) etc.
• Channel width : Downstream frequencies used are from 108 to 1794 MHz, It utilizes subcarrier frequencies to define a channel.


Following are the features of DOCSIS 4.0.
• It is enhancement to DOCSIS 3.1 which is also known by "Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1".
• Delivers download speeds up to 10 Gbps and upload speeds up to 6 Gbps.
• Offers lower latency and faster speeds
• Upstream spectrum increased to 684 MHz and downstream spectrum to 1.8 GHz to offer larger spectrum for data.
• Allows use of multi gigabit symmetric services over HFC networks.
• DOCSIS 4.0 is used in applications requiring higher upstream speeds which include video conferencing, health care, remote learning, IoT, virtual reality etc.

Tabular difference between DOCSIS 3.0 DOCSIS 3.1 DOCSIS 4.0

Following table mentions difference between DOCSIS 3.0, DOCSIS 3.1 and DOCSIS 4.0. DOCSIS 4.0 was known as "DOCSIS 3.1 Full duplex" initially.

Features DOCSIS 3.0 DOCSIS 3.1 DOCSIS 4.0
Production year 2006 2013 2019
Downstream capacity 1 Gbps 5-10 Gbps 10 Gbps
Upstream capacity 100-200 Mbps 1-2 Gbps 6 Gbps
Main features Greatly enhances capacity, channel bonding, IPv6 Capacity and efficiency progression, OFDM, wideband channel Multi-gigabit symmetrical streaming and increased upload speeds than DOCSIS 3.1
Modem cost (approx.) $50 to $150 $120 to $300
Channel Bonding (used to enable multiple downstream and upstream channels simultaneously by single subscriber) 4 (number of downstream channels) x4 (number of upstream channels), 8x4, 16x4, 24x8, 32x8 32x8 Not available

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