Comcast took another step toward its rollout of DOCSIS 4.0 later this year, announcing it now has prototypes of a critical network element – full duplex-capable amplifiers – in hand. The amps are being supplied by CommScope.

The prototypes are built on the STARLINE MiniBridger platform from CommScope, which Comcast has already implemented in its network. They differ in a few significant ways, though. They start by incorporating new technology for noise cancellation in electronics. A representative for the operator told Fierce that each RF link will have a built-in DOCSIS 3.1 modem that will provide real-time insight into its performance.

Comcast Technology Center sign
The operator has said previously that it plans to be in the market with DOCSIS 4.0 by the second half of 2023.

After conducting a DOCSIS 4.0 demonstration in September using full duplex amplifiers based on a Broadcom reference design, Comcast announced its prototype. According to the operator representative, those were “development platforms used to test and qualify” the technology, in contrast to the CommScope prototype. “This is a big step forward towards deployment readiness,” says the statement.

The operator has previously stated that it expects to be able to upgrade its network at a gross cost of less than $200 per passing and plans to enter the market with DOCSIS 4.0 by the second half of 2023. The representative reaffirmed the aforementioned cost per passing when asked if Comcast believed it could obtain reasonable pricing on the FDX amps it needs given that it is one of the first to implement the technology.

Guy Sucharczuk, SVP and President of Access Network Solutions (ANS), commented on the announcement’s implications for CommScope by saying, “RF Amplifiers are one of the key growth products within our ANS portfolio.”

The supplier revealed earlier this month that it will ship 1 million amps in total  of 1 million amps in 2022, a figure Dell’Oro Group VP Jeff Heynen said was likely 1.5 to 2 times its normal annual output. At the time, Heynen said that figure was probably just a foretaste of the amount that would be shipped for the DOCSIS 4.0 upgrade wave given there are between 15 million and 17 million amps in North American networks alone.

Indeed, Sucharczuk noted “these million amplifiers shipped, in addition to the prior existing millions of CommScope amplifiers in the market, become candidates for upgrade to DOCSIS 4.0.”