Arris and Kabel Deutschland, Germany’s largest cable service provider, have managed to field test cable equipment that delivers fiber-like speeds of 4.7 gigabits per second. While KD doesn’t indicate that it plans to deploy those speeds anytime soon, the test shows that cable’s DOCSIS 3.0 technology can keep up with the fiber-to-the-home networks that other providers are using.
The tests were conducted on a real cable plant at a school in the city of Schwerin, Germany using currently available standards, technology and hardware. Schwerin’s cable plant was recently upgraded by KD to 862 MHz and the test was performed using channel bonding of 48 8MHz channels. Each (European standard) 8 MHz channel can accommodate 50 Mbps.
Of course, in a real-life setting some of these channels would also have to be allocated for upstream capacity, so real-world speeds wouldn’t look like this. But for delivering more and more content to homes, cable is still in the game. From the release:
“Our field test with ARRIS, with an aggregate download capacity of well over 4Gbit/s, was a complete success and underlines the unique selling proposition of our cable network as the only extensive ultra-fast network in the German broadband market,” said KD Chief Technology Officer Lorenz Glatz. “Using this technology, a feature length movie could theoretically be downloaded in 8 seconds – at speeds faster than a standard laptop or modem can even process – demonstrating that today’s broadband cable network is already a high performance and sustainable infrastructure offering huge untapped potential.”
These speeds will not only help cable market crazy-high speeds such as the recently announced 300 Mbps tier Verizon is offering in the U.S., but will also ensures that cable providers have the capacity to deploy true IP television to customers. Currently many cable providers dedicate a set chunk of their frequencies to a set channel, so ESPN is always there and taking up space on the cable plant’s gear. But in an IPTV scenario, people would call on ESPN only when they wanted to watch it, freeing up those frequencies when no one wanted to watch ESPN.
Cable is a shared network, and these are just trials, so end users shouldn’t expect multi-gigabit connections anytime soon. But it’s nice to see that we can’t count cable out yet.