Docsis 3.0 vs Docsis 3.1 Full Comparison

internet hardware

Docsis 3.0 vs Docsis 3.1 Full Comparison

Home internet users have had a lot of technology to keep up with. The decision between internet service providers and their technology differences alone is enough to confuse the less technology savvy. When given the choice, most choose cable connections over DSL or satellite. This is often because cable internet speed is known for being faster and more reliable than DSL. This is in large part due to the larger throughput bandwidth cable connections can offer.

Yet, even having chosen to go with a cable ISP, there are still decisions to make regarding hardware. The two key hardware components to any solid home network are a dual-band router and a modem. In the case of cable connections, this means deciding between Docsis cable modems. In some locations, the ISP will dictate which modem you need based on ISP compatibility. The good news is that Docsis 3.1 will usually work with Docsis 3.0 connections. This means buying a Docsis 3.1 cable modem is just good future-proofing in the case that your ISP decides to upgrade.

router and modem
Two key hardware components to any solid home network are a dual-band router and a modem.

Docsis 3.0 vs Docsis 3.1: 8 Must Know Facts

  • Docsis 3.1 has ten times faster download speeds than 3.0 and twenty times faster upload speeds.
  • Docsis 3.1 was created with the intention of increasing the efficiency of data transmission over smaller pathways.
  • Docsis 3.1 is compatible with 3.0 cable ISPs unless otherwise stated by the ISP.
  • 3.1 is a requirement to enjoy full gigabit internet speeds.
  • 3.1 cable modems often also feature increase security protocols over 3.0 cable modems. This is due in part to the 3.1 technology, but mostly due to extra development time.
  • 3.1 cable modems are more expensive than their 3.0 counterparts.
  • 3.1 cable modems include WPA3, an advanced security protocol for routing
  • Even with Docsis 4.0 on the horizon, Docsis 3.1 is still considered future proof due to ISP companies being unable to achieve speeds that 3.1 is capable of.

Docsis 3.0 vs Docsis 3.1: Summary

For those who have Docsis 3.1 ISP compatibility, there is a definite performance advantage that you will experience. In a nutshell, 3.1 is ten times faster than 3.0. When Docsis 3.0 was created, the focus was on creating a larger throughput bandwidth by increasing the number of pathways in the cable. Docsis 3.1 then leverages this larger throughput by allowing for more efficient use of smaller paths. This, in turn, allows for 3.1 to take advantage of the larger cables provided by the 3.0 cable lines for even greater performance. 3.1 connections enjoy faster speed and more throughput on the upstream channel and the downstream channel.

Alongside the increased speed performance, Docsis 3.1 cable modems all offer increased security protocols that often work in tandem with services provided by your ISP. This first line of security combined with security applications provided by the router you choose for your home network is what makes up the majority of your home network security. This means Docsis 3.1 allows for a faster, more enjoyable, and safer relationship with the internet.

Docsis 3.0 vs Docsis 3.1 Side-by-Side Comparison

Docsis 3.0Docsis 3.1
What it isCable Modem design specificationCable modem design specification
Primary useDesign specifications for cable modem connectionsDesign specifications for cable modem connections
Namedata over cable service interface specifications 3.0data over cable service interface specifications 3.1
Initial release20062013
Technical committeeCable LabsCable Labs
Influential developersBigBand Networks, Broadcom, Cisco, Comcast, Conexant, Correlant, Cox, Harmonic, Hitron Technologies, Intel, Motorola, Netgear, Technicolor, Terayon, Time Warner Cable, and Texas InstrumentsBigBand Networks, Broadcom, Cisco, Comcast, Conexant, Correlant, Cox, Harmonic, Hitron Technologies, Intel, Motorola, Netgear, Technicolor, Terayon, Time Warner Cable, and Texas Instruments
Technologies influencedinternet, cable modems, routersinternet, cable modems, routers

What is Docsis?

Docsis is an acronym that has been around long enough to have become a word. It stands for “data over cable service interface specifications.” It is the standard interface used by cable internet service providers that determines the technical method for how a modem receives signals from cable ISPs, such as Mediacom, Spectrum, Xfinity, Cox, and Optimum, and translates them into usable internet service for web surfing and streaming.

Modern modems are usually either a Docsis 3.0 or 3.1, soon to be Docsis 4.0. The 3.0 and 3.1 variants are improvements to the past iterations of Docsis systems. 3.0 introduced a larger amount of connections and pathways to increase overall bandwidth. This was widely successful when compared to its predecessors. 3.1 was developed to help take advantage of the larger bandwidth by increasing the efficiency of each pathway. The improvements brought by 3.1 allow for ten times the downstream channel speed of 3.0.

Luckily, Docsis 3.1 cable modems almost always have open ISP compatibility. So even if your ISP doesn’t offer gigabit speeds, your modem will be ready for when they do.

DOCSIS 3.0 Internet Cable Modem
The DOCSIS 3.0 Internet Cable Modem introduced more connections and pathways to increase overall bandwidth.

Docsis 3.0

  • Max Upstream Channel Speed — 100 Mbps
  • Max Downstream Channel Speed — 1 Gbps

Docsis 3.1

  • Max Upstream Channel Speed — 2 Gbps
  • Max Downstream Channel Speed — 10 Gbps

These two technologies are not competing but rather related. 3.1 is the improved iteration of 3.0. The two coexist in the market due to cable ISPs’ slow speed in adopting new cable infrastructure. While Docsis 3.0 is slowly making its way out of the picture, 3.1 is likely to be around for quite a while longer.

The Price Difference

Docsis 3.1 comes at a price. The most expensive DOCSIS 3.0 cable modems are priced at around $150. This is reasonable considering the average Docsis 3.0 cable modem in use is priced near $70-$80. Docsis 3.1 cable modems start at around $150 and can reach up to $300. The improvements of 3.1 over 3.0 are vast and manufacturers are well aware of this. While the price may persuade some to opt for a lower-priced 3.0, keep in mind that 3.1 cable modems will keep up with internet speeds for years to come and provide better security protocols for your online activity immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Docsis 3.1 make a difference?

Docsis 3.1 makes a giant difference in internet speeds. It is ten times faster than Docsis 3.0 and offers more security features. For ISPs that offer speeds above a gigabit per second, Docsis 3.1 is a requirement to enjoy the full speed of service.

Should I buy a Docsis 3.0 or 3.1 modem?

In most cases, it is recommended to purchase Docsis 3.1 cable modems. They have ISP compatibility with most cable service providers. If you are unsure, contact your ISP and ask. This information is generally easily available. Once you are aware of ISP compatibility, you can begin to sort out the differences in 3.1 and 3.0 cable modems. The first thing you are likely to notice is the price difference. 3.1 cable modems start at around $150, which is close to the same price as the most expensive Docsis 3.0 cable modems. There is a significant reason for this. 3.1 technology is far superior to 3.0. 3.1 modems will outlast the use of a 3.0 modem as it will keep up with future internet service speeds. They also provide increased security protocols immediately.

If you are trying to stick to a budget, a 3.1 cable modem is not required. Most service speeds offered can still be handled well by a Docsis 3.0 cable modem.

Do I need a Docsis 3.1 router?

No. The router’s performance is somewhat independent of the modem. The modem will dictate all internet connections, both in and out. The router, on the other hand, specifically handles local network connections. Most often it is utilized to connect a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone to the open internet. Routers also manage connections between devices in the network such as remote desktops, data transfer, and connections to network devices like a printer or scanner.

Does Docsis 3.1 increase speed?

Docsis 3.1 alone will not increase your internet speed. Your ISP must also be capable of offering speeds than 3.1 can handle. As Docsis 3.1 has a maximum downstream channel throughput of 10 Gbps, there’s a small chance that your ISP will offer a service with a reasonable price tag that takes advantage of Docsis 3.1’s full ability. Gigabit services will see a performance advantage using a Docsis 3.1 cable modem over a 3.0.

What is the difference between Docsis 3.0 vs 3.1?

3.1 offers more efficient use of the cable throughput provided by 3.0. In practice, this means Docsis 3.1 can handle download speeds ten times faster than 3.0 and upload speeds twenty times faster. The physical appearance of 3.1 against 3.0 cable modems is usually indistinguishable besides package labels. Docsis 3.1 cable modems also offer more advanced security protocols and features for safer online activity.

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