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Not Your Daddy's Cable Anymore

You might not be poised to believe this, but, the cable industry is incredibly innovative.

Multi-system operators are making huge changes to the networks we all use every day in preparation for the near-future, which will require much more speed. Multi-gigabit network speeds, to be precise.

In 2016, the entire industry came together to transition the cable modem Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1 from an innovation project to an industry-wide R&D project. In technical terms, Full Duplex DOCSIS 3.1 will double the efficiency of spectrum use, enabling upstream and downstream traffic to efficiently use the same spectrum at the same time. In laymen’s terms, this means we get 10x the upload speeds available today.

What Are We Doing with All That Speed?

This is a question that Phil McKinney, the CEO of our parent company CableLabs, answered in a recent article in Videonet. McKinney argues that the cable industry needs a BHAG – that is, a big, hairy, audacious goal for the whole industry to rally around. According to the article, it “amounts to the delivery of life-changing consumer services built around low-latency connectivity, multi-gigabit networks, virtual reality, augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence.

CableLabs released a video last year that provides a vision for what we might do with all that speed. The video shows a family using the network for everyday tasks, such as a dad being transported home in his self-driving car reading files and shouting out the window at neighbors (hey – he isn’t driving, the car is!) and coming home to an ambush from his son playing a virtual reality game.

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Meanwhile, the mom is finishing a meeting with coworkers who could be presumably half a world away for all we know, all standing up in front of a VR conference screen that looks straight out of the movie Minority Report.

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We also see a young woman learning about science watching a hologram of Einstein, and a young girl visiting with her grandmother in a VR world. It’s a pretty grand vision, but one that may not be so far away and a real reason why CableLabs and the global connectivity industry has to keep moving on increasing speeds.

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With all these new technologies we already see coming into the market today from tech startups, we know it won’t be long before consumers feel the need for more speed. In a lot of ways, this is why UpRamp exists, to ensure we help connect these startups with the industry to ensure innovation continues to happen, and bring this future into the present. And also, maybe because we really just want to play VR games and not have to drive anymore!

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