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Upgrading Your Modem to a DOCSIS 3.0 Modem

Why you may want to upgrade your modem to the latest DOCSIS 3.0 modem.

If you have high speed cable internet such as Comcast or RCN, then you have a DOCSIS cable modem in your house or business. (If you have Verizon FIOS, then this article does not apply to you.)

The Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification, or DOCSIS, enables one to hook up their PC to a local cable TV provider's line in order to receive data. Many refer to this as a cable modem or broadband service. There are variations of DOCSIS used by different broadband providers, which often confuse customers who are unaware of what this terminology means and how it affects them.

Some terms that may help explain the three levels of DOCSIS are outlined below:

  • Downstream SNR shows signal strength to your cable modem when compared to the noise on the line. If the noise level increases, the SNR value decreases. A user may experience problems such as intermittent connection issues with an SRN value below 30 Mbps.
  • Downstream Power shows the power of the signal your cable modem is getting. The level of downstream power should be -15 to 15dB, but it’s even better to be -8 to 8dB.
  • Upstream SNR shows how much signal the facility for processing and distribution is getting from your cable modem compared to the noise level.
  • Upstream Power shows the level of the signal from the cable modem to the provider. The number should be lower than 55dB. The lower the number, the better the connection.

Each of the following DOCSIS versions builds upon the previous. The first DOCSIS was released in 1997 and lacked in its ability to support a large area of consumers. The most recent version features pros from its previous versions along with multiple channels to create a wider customer reach. Below you will find a breakdown of the DOCSIS specifications.

  • 1.0
    • Single channel support led to difficulty handling multiple customers due to low upstream.
    • 38 Mbps downstream
    • 9 Mbps upstream
  • 2.0
    • Single channel support does not allow for numerous performance possibilities, but increased upstream aids in delivering greater speeds to a greater number of customers in a given area.
    • 38 Mbps downstream
    • 27 Mbps upstream
  • 3.0
    • Multiple channels are bound together to increase performance for greater speeds.
    • 38 Mbps downstream
    • 27 Mbps upstream
    • No limits to the number of channels that can be used so a 3.0 cable modem with 4-channel support has the potential downstreams of over 100 Mbps.

Each DOCSIS builds upon the one released before it, and while there is more to the DOCSIS 3.0 specification than just increased downstream and increased upstream, this is a great place for cable providers to start in their competition against fiber-optic providers while providing a better service to subscribers.

At a minimum you should have a DOCSIS 2.0 modem in your house.  This enables the most common high speed internet offerings, which is usually between 12 Mbps – 15 MB/s service.  Most homes have DOCSIS 2.0 modems unless you have the same modem your cable provider installed in your house way back in 1997 – 2001 when broadband service was originally deployed.

The DOCSIS 3.0 modem has the ability for speeds of 20Mbps and greater.  But just having a DOCSIS 3.0 modem will not make your internet faster unless you actually upgrade and buy the faster service from your cable provider.

Most new cable installations will have a DOCSIS 3.0 modem regardless whether you actually buy the faster speeds, thus enabling you the option to upgrade your speed later without having to change equipment.

Also, if you have a DOCSIS 3.0 modem, you should probably have a newer wireless N router that has the processing power to route the higher speed traffic. ()

If you are unsure what type of modem or speed you are purchasing, you can call your cable provider or your local computer support provider.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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