Cable Modems DOCSIS 3.0 vs 3.1, What’s the Difference?

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The cable modem is a piece of hardware that helps you communicate with your ISP. 

Coaxial cabling, like the tube used by cable modems, provides communication between the modem and the landline. You can access broadband Internet through this wired connection, which turns into a digital signal.

In simpler words, an Internet connection is achieved by using a cable modem. And DOCSIS standards are the most important features to look for in cable modems.​ 

​You can determine how fast your connection will be with a DOCSIS standard found in most modems. Cable modems have different numbers of channels based on their channel bonding. 

But the catch is that people always get confused between DOCSIS 3.0 modem vs 3.1. And, in this article we will try to cover about the DOCSIS 3.0 vs 3.1 cables differences and other stuff.

What is Docsis?

A DOCSIS interface is a protocol used to transmit data over cable. A coaxial cable television system is upgraded with high-bandwidth data transfer using this international telecommunications standard.  

Understanding this feature helps you choose a cable modem to connect to the Internet.

Why Docsis is Important?

As DOCSIS versions have improved, the amount of information traveling between your ISP and your home has significantly increased. 

Thus, faster downloads and uploads. There are mainly three types of DOCSIS cables.

DOCSIS 2.0: It is the first standard.

DOCSIS 3.0: The DOCSIS 3.0 standard increased the speeds an Internet service plan could reach through a cable modem.

DOCSIS 3.1: This standard is the latest and fastest of them all. 

In most cases, DOCSIS 3.1 delivers download speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) and upload speeds of up to 1 Gbps.  

It is however DOCSIS 3.0 that is viewed as the most widely used. With 32 channels and over 1GB download speed, it is capable of supporting 32 simultaneous download channels.

Difference between DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1

Feature DOCSIS 3.0 DOCSIS 3.1
Maximum upstream speed 200 Mbps 1 Gbps
Maximum downstream speed 1 Gbps 10 Gbps
Throughput 256-QAM (42.88 Mbps per 6 MHz channel) 4096-QAM (1.89 Gbps per 192 MHz channel)

DOCSIS 3.1 is 10 times faster than DOCSIS 3.0, which is the main difference between DOCSIS 3.0 vs DOCSIS 3.1. 

It has downstream capacity of 10 Gbps and upstream capacity of 1-2 Gbps, while DOCSIS 3.0 struggled to achieve 200 Mbps upstream and 1 Gbps downstream. 

The DOCSIS 3.0 standard is still not as fast as DOCSIS 3.1. Its more efficient processing techniques result in a dramatic increase in the amount of data transmitted from your cable provider to your home.  

We are seeing an increase in internet traffic every day, and data is increasing in size. The process of transferring is therefore more time-consuming and complicated. There is a very good chance that DOCSIS 3.0 will promptly become obsolete.

Modems that use DOCSIS 3.1 are the most appropriate for your daily internet needs. A Gbps upload speed and a 10 Gbps download speed are possible with this service.

However, many cable internet providers do not offer plans that can utilize this technology to the extent that it’s capable of. Nevertheless, you can still use it. You should consider DOCSIS 3.1 if you want a future-proof modem.

What is DOCSIS 3.0?

 In August of 2006, DOCSIS 3.0 was released, making it pretty old by today’s standards.

However, it should not be underestimated for what it can do. A download speed of 1 Gbps is possible as well as an upload speed of 300 Mbps.

There are 32 downstream channels and 8 upstream channels on the fastest DOCSIS 3.0 modem.

The result is that it is ideal for all Internet activities. You can play games, stream videos, and surf the internet. All the things can be done at once, even across several devices. 

Modems with DOCSIS 3.0 technology start at 50 dollars, and the most expensive models go for 400 dollars. 

Around 150 dollars is a fair price for a DOCSIS 3.0 modem. You might have to spend few bucks more if you choose a combo. 

DOCSIS modems that cost 50-60 dollars have 16*4 or 8*4 channels for downloading and uploading. Consequently, they are only suitable for low-tier packages, such as 100 and 200 Mbps.

DOCSIS 3.0 Advantages & Disadvantages

Every consumer can find a DOCSIS 3.0 modem that meets their specific needs due to the range of modems that use it. Modems ranging from low-end models for average internet users to the most powerful units for 4K video transmission. 

The main difference between DOCSIS 3.0 modems at the low and high end is their channel count.

Due to the long-term availability of DOCSIS 3.0, prices are now as low as $50-$75 for any modem that uses it.

At that price, DOCSIS 3.0 modems can still easily outperform the data speeds provided by some ISPs’ lower-end tiers.

DOCSIS 3.0 modems, even those in the mid-range, are long-lasting. This product will satisfy the needs of future Internet service providers due to its sturdy construction and high-speed capabilities.

DOCSIS 3.0 modems are not all created equal. As ISP infrastructure evolves, many low-end models need replacement each year as a result of overheating, mechanical failures, or simply not having enough speed.

Even the best DOCSIS 3.0 modems cannot achieve the speeds possible with the fastest ISP plans. They can reach speeds up to 2 Gbps. 

When you buy a DOCSIS 3.0 modem with one of these plans, your actual speed will be lower than what you paid for.

Thus, even if you saved money on the product, it makes the purchase counter-productive. 

What is DOCSIS 3.1? 

In addition to DOCSIS 3.0, DOCSIS 3.1 also serves as a successor to the standard. Consequently, you get faster, more secure, and more capable internet.

DOCSIS 3.1 modems and networks can easily deliver download speeds of 10 Gbps or more. The upload speed can reach 1 Gbps. In comparison to DOCSIS 3.0, this is significantly higher.

There are 32 downstream and 8 upstream channels in more than half of the DOCSIS 3.1 modems. However, they are unnecessary if your network does not support gigabit speed. As long as it is present, you will have high stability.

Additionally, most manufacturers of modem/routers selling DOCSIS 3.1 technology also sell standalone modems.

The combination of modem and router might be very hard to find. A separate wireless router might also be necessary because of this. 

Cable internet providers in your area that have implemented DOCSIS 3.1 technology or infrastructure will be able to provide you with DOCSIS 3.1. The modem must also support it, which is a little more expensive than DOCSIS 3.0 modems.

DOCSIS 3.1 Advantages & Disadvantages

DOCSIS 3.1 modems provide plenty of power for your ISP to increase speed in the future for quite some time. This is the way to go if you are already using 2 Gbps speeds and desire to be prepared for the future.

Since they’re more up-to-date than DOCSIS 3.0 modems, DOCSIS 3.1 modems tend to receive more technical support.

Even so, DOCSIS 3.1 is still an emerging technology. Still, it needs a lot of work before it can be considered ideal. There are several issues with it, starting with its cost.

You can expect to pay between 180 and 200 dollars just for a basic DOCSIS 3.1 modem. A price tag like this is beyond the reach of most people. 

Additionally, you will be limited to a cable modem since there are no router and modem combinations available. This 3.1 modem isn’t free, so you have to pay for a Gigabit router as well.

The second problem with 3.1 modems is that they are too far ahead of ISPs. This product can work at speeds up to two Gbps, but its top speed is 10 Gbps.

The companies might have to wait five to ten years before they catch up. The modem you have now will be outdated by the time that happens. In the future, we will see cheaper, higher-quality modems that are much affordable.

To summarize DOCSIS 3.1 modems, unfinished would be the best word. Currently, they are not good enough and need a lot of work before they can be considered good.

But if you prefer faster speeds, and you don’t mind replacing the device every two years, you could opt for this device. 

Download and upload speeds will be as high as possible. Streamers and gamers must use these modems for high-speed data transfer, which is why they should pay this much. 

The rest of the people can wait. We should let the device evolve, and at the appropriate time purchase it.  

Which to choose between DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1?

In reality, only few ISPs offer speeds and services that could justifiably be associated with a DOCSIS 3.1 modem.  

You may be lucky to live near a place where 1Gbps or higher speeds are available. As a result, you will need a DOCSIS 3.1 modem to subscribe to this service.

All others should use DOCSIS 3.0 modems. Low-end and midrange models are typically cheaper and last longer. In addition, there are many options to choose from, so you are certain to find the modem that best meets your needs.

Final Words

This article must have given a great insight into DOCSIS 3.0 vs 3.1. Choosing one between them solely depends on your location and requirements. Only time will tell when the new DOCSIS 3.1 cable modems will replace their predecessors completely. But, one thing is sure, it is bound to happen.