Cable’s Next Frontier: 10G and Wi-Fi 6

| February 07, 2020 | |

So many new products, devices and services being rolled out today depend on internet connectivity, increased bandwidth and powerful broadband speeds. While some telecom companies are focused on 5G technology, the cable industry is looking further down the road to give customers an even better experience with the new technologies 10G and Wi-Fi 6.

What are “10G” and “Wi-Fi 6” – and what will it mean for cable’s broadband customers?


The broadband industry led by NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, CableLabs, SCTE•ISBE and Cable Europe (now GIGAEurope) came together in January 2019 to announce a combined vision to deliver the technology platform of the future, called 10G – the ability to deliver speeds of 10 gigabits per second.

By contrast, most broadband networks today deliver data at 1 gigabyte per second – 100,000 times the speed available in 1988 – to more than 80% of the United States – up from just 5% in 2016.

Migrating to 10G will not require a massive network overhaul – instead, the existing network now delivering 1G will be upgraded with a combination of new hardware, software and other engineering techniques. The 10G platform will enable not only wired networks, but also wireless, mobile and fixed networks.

While 10G is fast, it isn’t the only advantage customers will experience. 10G also brings reduced latency, enhanced reliability and security features, that will enable next-generation technologies as well as devices that rely on super high-definition steaming and gaming, holodecks, 360-degree video, video walls and other Internet of Things devices that haven’t even been invented yet.

But network speed isn’t the only feature of 10G. Its reduced latency, enhanced reliability and security features will open doors to a myriad of new immersive digital experiences and other emerging technologies that will revolutionize the way we live, work, learn and play. It will create new possibilities for smart cities, healthcare, connected gaming, video streaming, virtual and augmented reality, education and businesses of all sizes.

The technologists at CableLabs – a not-for-profit innovation and research and development lab founded in 1988 by American cable operators and operated on behalf of cable operators around the globe – have passed major milestones over the past year as they’ve developed and tested 10G, it was announced at the 2020 Consumer Electronic Show. Field trials are expected to begin later in 2020.

To learn more about 10G, watch this video produced by NCTA.

Even ahead of field trails, CableLabs says its technologists and managers at CableLabs are already working on the next great innovations for a future beyond 10G.

Wi-Fi 6

Another hot topic at the 2020 Consumer Electronic Show (CES) was the newly unveiled Wi-Fi 6, or the sixth iteration of 802.11 Wi-Fi – the first major redesign of Wi-Fi in 20 years. The goal of Wi-Fi 6 is to better serve today’s homes – those with multiple internet-dependent devices (especially in today’s Internet of Things) that have multi-gigabyte requirements.

At the end of 2018, more than 200 million homes globally had at least one smart home device, excluding smartphones, tablets, laptops, PCs, smart TVs and smart speakers, according to Strategy Analytics. By the end of 2023, more than 6.4 billion smart home devices will be in use, an average of 21 per home network.

Wi-Fi 6 is billed as making routers and gateways interact with internet-enabled devices faster and more efficiently.

How does Wi-Fi 6 differ from – or fit with – 10G? 10G is the broadband network that brings next-generation speed and latency into the home or business; Wi-Fi 6 is the advanced network that distributes that data once it is in the home or business.

At CES, Comcast introduced its xFi Advanced Gateway, one of the first Wi-Fi 6 certified devices in the United States.

According to Comcast’s news release, which says Xfinity Internet power users connect on average 50 devices in the home per month, “The xFi Advanced Gateway is designed for high-performance users to handle more capacity for even more smart home devices coming online today and in the future. This gateway delivers exceptionally lower latency for an unrivaled cloud and online gaming, 4K video streaming, and VR and AR experiences, as these applications increasingly become mainstream.”

Other Wi-Fi 6-compatible mesh Wi-Fi systems, as well as Wi-Fi 6-compatible devices, hit the market in the latter part of 2019. Have an older home? No problem – Wi-Fi 6 is “backward compatible;” if you buy a new Wi-Fi 6-enabled device, it will still work on the current Wi-Fi 5. You just may not get all the speed and other benefits of Wi-Fi 6. That allows a smooth transition as consumers upgrade or replace their devices.

Learn more about the advantages of Wi-Fi 6.

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