Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS) is an international telecommunications standard that permits the addition of high-bandwidth data transfer to an existing cable television (CATV) system. It is used by many cable television operators to provide cable Internet access over their existing hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) infrastructure.
DOCSIS was originally developed by CableLabs and contributing companies, including Arris, BigBand Networks, Broadcom, Cisco, Comcast, Conexant, Correlant, Cox, Harmonic, Intel, Motorola, Netgear, Terayon, Time Warner Cable, and Texas Instruments.
In 1994, 802.14 was chartered to develop a media access control over an HFC. In 1995, Multimedia Cable Network System (MCNS) was formed. The original partners were TCI, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, and Cox. Later, Continental Cable and Rogers joined the group. In June 1996, SCTE formed the Data Standards Subcommittee to begin work on establishing national standards for high-speed data over cable plant. July 1997: SCTE DSS voted in the affirmative on document DSS 97-2. This standard is based on the well-known DOCSIS specification. The standard was also submitted to International Telecommunication Union Telecommunications Standardization Sector (ITU-T) and has been adopted as ITU-T J.112 Annex B.
|DOCSIS version||Production date||Maximum downstream capacity||Maximum upstream capacity||Features|
|1.0||1997||40 Mbit/s||10 Mbit/s||Initial release|
|1.1||2001||Added VOIP capabilities and QoS mechanisms|
|2.0||2002||30 Mbit/s||Enhanced upstream data rates|
|3.0||2006||1 Gbit/s||200 Mbit/s||Significantly increased downstream and upstream data rates, introduced support for IPv6, introduced channel bonding|
|3.1||2013||10 Gbit/s||1–2 Gbit/s||Significantly increased downstream and upstream data rates, restructured channel specifications|
|4.0||2017||6 Gbit/s||Significantly increased upstream rates from DOCSIS 3.1|
As frequency allocation bandwidth plans differ between United States and European CATV systems, DOCSIS standards earlier than 3.1 have been modified for use in Europe. These modifications were published under the name EuroDOCSIS. The differences between the bandwidths exist because European cable TV conforms to PAL/DVB-C standards of 8 MHz RF channel bandwidth and North American cable TV conforms to NTSC/ATSC standards which specify 6 MHz per channel. The wider channel bandwidth in EuroDOCSIS architectures permits more bandwidth to be allocated to the downstream data path (toward the user). EuroDOCSIS certification testing is executed by Belgian company Excentis (formerly known as tComLabs), while DOCSIS certification testing is executed by CableLabs. Typically, customer premises equipment receives "certification", while CMTS equipment receives "qualification".
The ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) has approved the various versions of DOCSIS as international standards. DOCSIS 1.0 was ratified as ITU-T Recommendation J.112 Annex B (1998), but it was superseded by DOCSIS 1.1 which was ratified as ITU-T Recommendation J.112 Annex B (2001). Subsequently, DOCSIS 2.0 was ratified as ITU-T Recommendation J.122. Most recently, DOCSIS 3.0 was ratified as ITU-T Recommendation J.222 (J.222.0, J.222.1, J.222.2, J.222.3).
Note: While ITU-T Recommendation J.112 Annex B corresponds to DOCSIS/EuroDOCSIS 1.1, Annex A describes an earlier European cable modem system ("DVB EuroModem") based on ATM transmission standards. Annex C describes a variant of DOCSIS 1.1 that is designed to operate in Japanese cable systems. The ITU-T Recommendation J.122 main body corresponds to DOCSIS 2.0, J.122 Annex F corresponds to EuroDOCSIS 2.0, and J.122 Annex J describes the Japanese variant of DOCSIS 2.0 (analogous to Annex C of J.112).
The first three versions of the DOCSIS standard support a downstream throughput with 256-QAM of up to 42.88 Mbit/s per 6 MHz channel (approximately 38 Mbit/s after overhead), or 55.62 Mbit/s per 8 MHz channel for EuroDOCSIS (approximately 50 Mbit/s after overhead). The upstream throughput possible is 30.72 Mbit/s per 6.4 MHz channel (approximately 27 Mbit/s after overhead), or 10.24 Mbit/s per 3.2 MHz channel (approximately 9 Mbit/s after overhead).
DOCSIS 3.1 supports a downstream throughput with 4096-QAM and 25 kHz subcarrier spacing of up to 1.89 Gbit/s per 192 MHz OFDM channel. The upstream throughput possible is 0.94 Gbit/s per 96 MHz OFDMA channel.
Maximum raw throughput including overhead (maximum payload throughput after overhead). Tables assume 256-QAM modulation for downstream and 64-QAM for upstream on DOCSIS 3.0, and 4096-QAM modulation for OFDM/OFDMA (first downstream/upstream methods) on DOCSIS 3.1, although real-world data rates may be lower due to variable modulation depending on SNR. Higher data rates are possible but require higher order QAM schemes which require higher downstream modulation error ratio (MER). DOCSIS 3.1 was designed to support up to 8192-QAM/16,384-QAM, but only support of up through 4096-QAM is mandatory to meet the minimum DOCSIS 3.1 standards.
|Channel configuration||DOCSIS throughput in Mbps||EuroDOCSIS throughput in Mbps||Channel configuration||Throughput in Mbps|
|Minimum selectable number of channels||Minimum number of channels that hardware must support||Selected number of channels||Maximum number of channels||Minimum selectable number of channels||Minimum number of channels that hardware must support||Selected number of channels||Maximum number of channels|
|1.x||1||1||1||1||42.88 (38)||55.62 (50)||1||1||1||1||10.24 (9)|
|2.0||1||1||1||1||42.88 (38)||55.62 (50)||1||1||1||1||30.72 (27)|
|3.0||1||4||m||Not defined||m × 42.88 (m × 38)||m × 55.62 (m × 50)||1||4||n||Not defined||n × 30.72 (n × 27)|
|3.1||1 OFDM channel
1 SC-QAM channel
|2 OFDM channels
32 SC-QAM channels
|Not defined||Dependent on OFDM channel bandwidth in MHz
m2 × 42.88 (m2 × 38)
|Dependent on OFDM channel bandwidth in MHz
m2 × 55.62 (m2 × 50)
|1 OFDMA channel
1 SC-QAM channel
|2 OFDMA channels
8 SC-QAM channels
|Not defined||Dependent on OFDMA channel bandwidth in MHz|
n2 × 30.72 (n2 × 27)
For DOCSIS 3.0, the theoretical maximum throughput for the number of bonded channels are listed in the table below.
|Number of channels||Downstream throughput||Upstream throughput|
|4||4||171.52 (152) Mbit/s||222.48 (200) Mbit/s||122.88 (108) Mbit/s|
|8||4||343.04 (304) Mbit/s||444.96 (400) Mbit/s|
|16||4||686.08 (608) Mbit/s||889.92 (800) Mbit/s|
|24||8||1029.12 (912) Mbit/s||1334.784 (1200) Mbit/s||245.76 (216) Mbit/s|
|32||8||1372.16 (1216) Mbit/s||1779.712 (1600) Mbit/s|
Note that the number of channels a cable system can support is dependent on how the cable system is set up. For example, the amount of available bandwidth in each direction, the width of the channels selected in the upstream direction, and hardware constraints limit the maximum amount of channels in each direction. Also note that, since in many cases, DOCSIS capacity is shared among multiple users, most cable companies do not sell the maximum technical capacity available as a commercial product, to reduce congestion in case of heavy usage.
Note that the maximum downstream bandwidth on all versions of DOCSIS depends on the version of DOCSIS used and the number of upstream channels used if DOCSIS 3.0 is used, but the upstream channel widths are independent of whether DOCSIS or EuroDOCSIS is used.
Traditional DOCSIS upstream in North America uses the 5–42 MHz frequency range. The 5–65 MHz range is used by EuroDOCSIS. This is known as a "low-split" or "sub-split" design, capable of a total shared capacity of ~108 Mbps upstream (assuming 4 SC-QAM upstream channels).
In recent years,[when?] cable operators have begun to increase the amount of bandwidth dedicated to the upstream. The two most popular options for this include a "mid-split" or "high-split".
A mid-split increases the upstream frequency range to 5–85 MHz, supporting a total shared upstream capacity of ~450 Mbps (assuming 4 SC-QAM + OFDMA channels).
A high-split increases the upstream frequency range to 5–204 MHz, supporting a total shared upstream capacity of ~1.5 Gbps (assuming 4 SC-QAM + OFDMA channels).
DOCSIS 4.0 in both full-duplex (FDX) and extended spectrum DOCSIS (ESD) configurations will support upstream speeds surpassing 5 Gbps.
A DOCSIS architecture includes two primary components: a cable modem located at the customer premises, and a cable modem termination system (CMTS) located at the CATV headend. Cable systems supporting on-demand programming use a hybrid fiber-coaxial system. Fiber optic lines bring digital signals to nodes in the system where they are converted into RF channels and modem signals on coaxial trunk lines.
The customer PC and associated peripherals are termed customer-premises equipment (CPE). The CPE are connected to the cable modem, which is in turn connected through the HFC network to the CMTS. The CMTS then routes traffic between the HFC and the Internet. Using the CMTS, the cable operator (or Multiple Service Operators — MSO) exercises full control over the cable modem's configuration; the CM configuration is changed to adjust for varying line conditions and customer service requirements.
DOCSIS 2.0 is also used over microwave frequencies (10 GHz) in Ireland by Digiweb, using dedicated wireless links rather than HFC network. At each subscriber premises the ordinary CM is connected to an antenna box which converts to/from microwave frequencies and transmits/receives on 10 GHz. Each customer has a dedicated link but the transmitter mast must be in line of sight (most sites are hilltop).
The DOCSIS architecture is also used for fixed wireless with equipment using the 2.5–2.7 GHz Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service (MMDS) microwave band in the U.S.
DOCSIS includes media access control (MAC) layer security services in its Baseline Privacy Interface specifications. DOCSIS 1.0 used the initial Baseline Privacy Interface (BPI) specification. BPI was later improved with the release of the Baseline Privacy Interface Plus (BPI+) specification used by DOCSIS 1.1 and 2.0. Most recently, a number of enhancements to the Baseline Privacy Interface were added as part of DOCSIS 3.0, and the specification was renamed "Security" (SEC).
The intent of the BPI/SEC specifications is to describe MAC layer security services for DOCSIS CMTS to cable modem communications. BPI/SEC security goals are twofold:
BPI/SEC is intended to prevent cable users from listening to each other. It does this by encrypting data flows between the CMTS and the cable modem. BPI and BPI+ use 56-bit Data Encryption Standard (DES) encryption, while SEC adds support for 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). The AES key, however, is protected only by a 1024-bit RSA key.
BPI/SEC is intended to allow cable service operators to refuse service to uncertified cable modems and unauthorized users. BPI+ strengthened service protection by adding digital certificate based authentication to its key exchange protocol, using a public key infrastructure (PKI), based on digital certificate authorities (CAs) of the certification testers, currently Excentis (formerly known as tComLabs) for EuroDOCSIS and CableLabs for DOCSIS. Typically, the cable service operator manually adds the cable modem's MAC address to a customer's account with the cable service operator; and the network allows access only to a cable modem that can attest to that MAC address using a valid certificate issued via the PKI. The earlier BPI specification (ANSI/SCTE 22-2) had limited service protection because the underlying key management protocol did not authenticate the user's cable modem.
Security in the DOCSIS network is vastly improved when only business critical communications are permitted, and end user communication to the network infrastructure is denied. Successful attacks often occur when the CMTS is configured for backward compatibility with early pre-standard DOCSIS 1.1 modems. These modems were "software upgradeable in the field", but did not include valid DOCSIS or EuroDOCSIS root certificates.
When a computer user seeks to access the internet, the user's modem will report its MAC address to the ISP, and if the ISP recognizes the modem's MAC address as belonging to a paying subscriber, the ISP will allow the user to access the internet via the ISP's network.