Home Web internet DOCSIS 3.0 versus 3.1: What’s the Difference for Your Cable Internet Connection?

DOCSIS 3.0 versus 3.1: What’s the Difference for Your Cable Internet Connection?


DOCSIS is the standard used by cable modems to move data.


If you have cable Internet, that is, an Internet service from a provider that uses coaxial cables to provide bandwidth, you have a DOCSIS modem.

DOCSIS stands for “data over cable service interface Specifications”, the key being “data over cable service”. It is the interface standard that determines how a modem receives Internet signals from a cable Internet service provider – like Cox, Mediacom, Optimum, Spectrum, or Xfinity – and translates them into the Internet service you use to surf the Internet. the Web and broadcast TV shows. It also sets the standard for how your entry, such as typing “cheap internet” into a search engine, is translated into data that the internet outside your home can understand.

Your cable modem is at the center of all of this (if you have cable internet), and it’s pretty much guaranteed to be a DOCSIS 3.0 or 3.1 device. What is the difference between both ? Despite the mere one-tenth difference between versions, there are significant differences between DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1, especially in terms of performance, price, and availability. Let’s take a look at these to help you determine which type of device, DOCSIS 3.0 or DOCSIS 3.1, is best suited for your home.

DOCSIS 3.1 supports faster speeds, if you need them

Device Maximum download speed Maximum download speed Price scale Release year


1 Gbit / s

100 Mbps

$ 50 to $ 150



10 Gbit / s

2 Gbit / s

$ 150 to $ 250


The biggest difference between DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 is that the latter can support download speeds 10 times faster than DOCSIS 3.0, up to 10 Gbps. It’s impressive, but unless you have a particularly quick plan, it probably won’t matter.

Most cable companies offer a gigabit plan with maximum speeds of around 940 or 1000 Mbps, but at the time of this writing, Xfinity is the only major cable Internet provider to offer a plan with high speeds. Faster maximum speeds (1200 Mbps in some areas). If you’re renting hardware through Xfinity, it will include a modem / router combo that comes with DOCSIS 3.1 built-in, so you don’t have to worry about it. Otherwise, if you choose Xfinity’s gig service and want to use your own equipment, you’ll want to spend a bit more on a DOCSIS 3.1 modem to take full advantage of the plan’s speed potential.

DOCSIS 3.1 is definitely the way to go on plans faster than 1 Gbps, but even if your plan comes with 1000 Mbps, 940 Mbps or less, say in the 400-600 Mbps range, a DOCSIS 3.1 modem can be your best choice for performance. Speeds up to 1 Gbps are the maximum a DOCSIS 3.0 modem can handle, so you will get better and more consistent performance from a 3.1 device equipped for faster speeds. As such, major cable internet providers including Cox, Optimum, and Spectrum also offer DOCSIS 3.1 modem with their mid-tier and higher-tier internet packages including gigabit service.

But suppose your plan offers speeds of up to 200 Mbps. The modem included with your equipment, if you rent it from the vendor, will likely be a DOCSIS 3.0 model, which is more than capable of supporting your Internet connection. If you choose to use your own modem, you probably won’t see much performance improvement, if any, by choosing a DOCSIS 3.1 device over a DOCSIS 3.0 device. And given the price difference and the options available between the two, you’d better go for DOCSIS 3.0 on that lower-tier internet plan.

DOCSIS 3.0 has more cheaper options

DOCSIS 3.0 may present cheaper options when purchasing a modem or modem / router combo. New DOCSIS 3.0 modems can cost between $ 50 and $ 150 depending on the device you choose and the source you buy from, but you may be able to evaluate a used device for less than $ 50. On the other hand, DOCSIS 3.1 modems can easily cost anywhere from $ 150 to $ 250 or more. And, since the technology is relatively new, at least in use, finding a cheaper second-hand device can be more difficult.

Meanwhile, manufacturers like Arris, Asus, Netgear, and Motorola have been making DOCSIS 3.0 modems for years. These manufacturers also make DOCSIS 3.1 modems, but you’ll have fewer options than buying a DOCSIS 3.0 modem, at least for now.

But DOCSIS 3.1 is more secure

Any major Internet Protocol update, like the transition from DOCSIS 3.0 to 3.1, will include improved security features, usually in the form of improved encryption, so it’s safe to say that DOCSIS 3.1 will do the best job for you. protect online. Additionally, the best router and modem combos equipped with DOCSIS 3.1 will also include WPA3, a more advanced router security feature than older routers / modems that may come with DOCSIS 3.0 and WPA2.

To be clear, DOCSIS 3.0 was released in 2006 and DOCSIS 3.1 arrived in 2013, which is long enough in the tech world – long enough for the initial security measures to become obsolete. Modem manufacturers and ISPs regularly release security updates to keep your equipment safe, but you can always consider additional security software or use a good VPN to boost your online security.

And essentially the test of time

The need for DOCSIS 3.1 modems has increased in recent years as home Internet speeds have improved dramatically. According to the FCC, only about 6% of US households had access to internet speeds of 1,000 Mbps or more in June 2016, up from more than 23% in June 2020. And while internet is by fiber, not necessarily by cable, be the main contributor to this. skipping is always an indicator that home internet speeds are increasing. For example, during the same period, Xfinity speeds of 500 Mbps or more were available in less than 3% of service areas, while the most recent data from the FCC shows these speeds are now available in 97%. service areas.

All this to say that DOCSIS 3.1 is well on its way to replacing DOCSIS 3.0. It hasn’t fully done so yet, largely because slower, cheaper cable internet plans can still work with DOCSIS 3.0 technology, but as faster plans become more available and affordable, DOCSIS 3.1 will become the gold standard for cable modems. . We are not there yet.

So why choose one over the other?

If you settle for a low to mid-tier cable Internet plan, a DOCSIS 3.0 modem is likely to meet all your needs and is priced lower than a DOCSIS 3.1 device. But if you want faster speeds, especially those approaching or exceeding 1 Gbps, or if you just want a device that you know you can use for years to come, a DOCSIS 3.1 modem is the way to go. You’ll have to pay more for a DOCSIS 3.1 modem, but chances are you’ll also pay extra for those faster speeds, so you might as well equip your home with a device that will allow you to enjoy them.


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