The technology that will soon make Gigabit Internet speeds available to millions of American homes was on full display last week in New Orleans, painting an exciting picture of a gigabit future that is closer than ever.

The SCTE EXPO in New Orleans is where the people and companies who do the hard work of actually building broadband networks meet to share ideas, kick the tires on the newest technology, and plan for the future.

DOCSIS 3.1 – the technology that will enable gigabit-and-better Internet speeds over existing hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) networks like Comcast’s – has been a topic of conversation at the EXPO for quite some time, but this is the year that DOCSIS 3.1 moved from theory to reality.

At nearly every booth on the exhibit floor, the companies that make modems and network equipment – which help to power our network and your Internet experience – were showing off their latest DOCSIS 3.1 devices. These weren’t empty pieces of plastic, but live, functional products, many of which were delivering gigabit-and-better speeds live in the room.

So what does this mean to you? Networking equipment may not be as exciting as a new TV, tablet or gaming system, but these are the tools that are going to allow all of your devices make the leap into the next generation of speed and functionality.

We’ve been getting ready for DOCSIS 3.1 throughout the year, and are going to start deploying it throughout our network starting in 2016, which will bring our customers more choices, better technology and of course, faster speeds.

DOCSIS (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) is the standard that allows us to deliver Internet service over the same cable we use to deliver television. First introduced in 1997, DOCSIS has gotten better and faster with each of its four previous versions.

New versions of DOCSIS don’t usually make national headlines, but DOCSIS 3.1 is different, because it holds the key to making gigabit speeds a reality for everyone. What’s exciting about DOCSIS, from a gigabit-speed standpoint, is that it works over our existing network as it is currently configured.

That’s important, because unlike some gigabit products in the marketplace, which require running new communications lines, DOCSIS 3.1 lets us use the lines that are already in all of our customers homes. We think that means it will deliver more gigabit service, faster, to more people than any previous technology or service.

This past week’s EXPO brings to life how close we are. A couple of other observations:

  • Development of the DOCSIS 3.1 spec is moving very fast; it has moved faster than any previous version of DOCSIS, and is now being implemented by every major equipment maker in the Internet space.

  • DOCSIS 3.1-enabled products and devices are already becoming more readily available. These demonstrations showed how much progress has been made.

  • In addition to providing greater speeds the technology of DOCSIS 3.1 will also make our network far more efficient, both in terms of how we use bandwidth, and how we consume energy.

What’s next for us is a lot of hard work as we roll up our sleeves and start putting DOCSIS 3.1 in place throughout our network. It will take a big combined effort, but it’s something we’ve done several times before, so we have a clear roadmap, and a crack team of engineers who are eager to get started.

The future is closer than ever. And we want our customers to get there first.