DOCSIS 3.0 vs 3.1 – Which one supports faster speeds?

One of the key factors to look at when buying a cable modem is the speed. The speed is usually determined by the DOCSIS support feature. Here, we’ll take a look at the DOCSIS rating and find out which one provides higher speeds.

When you buy a cable modem, one of the most common terms you’ll find is DOCSIS. DOCSIS stands for Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification. It is a standard developed in 1998 that regulates, controls and determines the speed, bandwidth and data transfer rates over the internet. Since the beginning of cable modems, all have had to be DOCSIS rated. The first DOCSIS was version 1.1 which was mainly to improve the quality of service through traffic prioritization. As the versions continued, they became more tailored toward speed and transfer rates. Today, older and low budget cable modems are usually DOCSIS 3.0 certified with newer releases and high end modems getting the 3.1 rating. The following table shows the major differences.

What are the differences between DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1?

DOCSIS rating
Up to 2 Gbps – Download

Up to 200 Mbps – Upload

Up to 10 Gbps – Download

Up to 2 Gbps – Upload

Mode of transfer
Coaxial cable


Coaxial cable
Examples of products
Arris Surfboard SB6141, Netgear CM500
Arris Surfboard SB8200, Netgear CM1000, Netgear CM1200

The history of DOCSIS

DOCSIS was launched in 1998 with the first version released a year later and referred to as 1.1. The standard was created by CableLabs to improve the quality of service by improving privacy and security and data prioritization. It was meant to use one single channel (one gigabit Ethernet port) and wasn’t really tailored for speeds. In fact, the download and upload speed of the modems clocked in at 40 Mbps and 10 Mbps respectively. The following is brief breakdown of previous versions


This served as an improvement from the first DOCSIS version, 1.1. The standard was first used in 2002 and featured improved speeds and new features. For instance, peer to peer file sharing was enabled as well as VoIP. The bandwidth was boosted with download and upload speeds of 40 Mbps and 30 Mbps respectively. At the time, this was a great improvement in internet connectivity performance. Lastly, the 2.0 version could only be used on a single line


DOCSIS 3.0 came about as a result of heavy and wide spread use of the internet, together with generally improved connections speeds. During this time, it was the beginning of streaming and other data intensive processes that required a better modem performance to be used. Thus, the DOCSIS 3.0 was launched. This version saw the prioritization of speed and transfer rates over anything else. The upload and download speeds were improved greatly with up to 200 Mbps and 2 Gbps respectively.


The most recent release of the DOCSIS modem standard is the version 3.1. It was released to compete with increasingly popular fiber connectivity. There is no doubt that fiber is much better for bandwidth and speed, coaxial speeds therefore also had to improve. Here, the speeds were increased further with upload and download speeds of 2 Gbps and 10 Gbps respectively.

DOCSIS 3.0 vs 3.1 – A comparison guide


Just like routers, high end modems provide better speed and bandwidth provided your internet service provider plan is fast. This means you may be subscribed to a high speed plan but as long as you have a low budget entry level modem, you will not be able to enjoy the provided speed. Because of this, it is important that you get decent cable modem with a rating of DOCSIS 3.0 or above. DOCSIS stands for Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification and is a telecoms standard used by cable modems to provide internet access for users. Currently, cable modems have a rating of 3.0 or 3.1 with older versions becoming obsolete.

Internet service providers today require a minimum of DOCSIS 3.0 for a cable modem. The highest speeds that can be achieved by this 1 Gbps, referred to as gigabit internet. What this means is that there is only one gigabit Ethernet port on a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem. The speed is however purely theoretical as no internet service provider can provide that yet. But in real life, the speeds range between 200 and 300 Mbps. Modems with this rating are cheaper and more affordable than DOCSIS 3.1 rated modems. With that, the following are some of the best products rated at DOCSIS 3.0

Arris Surfboard 6141

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One of the most popular modems in use today is Arris’ SB6141. The cable modem is loved by many users for its compatibility with almost all cable internet providers in the United States. In fact, it is supported by nine out of ten of these companies. Some of the companies include: Comcast, Time Warner, Charter and Cox. On top of this, it is a very affordable cable modem and great for small to medium sized homes. The SB6141 is a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem meaning it supports theoretical speeds of up to 1 Gbps. This also means it has one gigabit Ethernet port. But in a real world setup, it provides download and upload speeds of 343 Mbps and 131 Mbps which is rather decent for an entry level unit.

Another excellent feature of the modem is its simple elegant design. Like other Arris modems, it comes in either white or black. It features a tower vertical design, with one gigabit Ethernet port, coaxial cable port and the power port located at the back of the unit. Lastly, the product supports 8 upstream channels and 4 downstream. These provide high and consistent speeds throughout. If you’re on a budget and need a modem for your house, you should definitely consider this.

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Netgear CM500

NETGEAR Cable Modem CM500 - Compatible with All Cable Providers Including Xfinity by Comcast, Spectrum, Cox | for Cable Plans Up to 400Mbps | DOCSIS 3.0
  • Save monthly rental fees: Model CM500 replaces your cable modem, saving you up to $168/yr in equipment...
  • Speeds by carrier: Spectrum (up to 400Mbps), Xfinity (up to 200Mbps), Cox (up to 150Mbps).

The Netgear CM500 is considered the best modem for speeds not exceeding 300 Mbps. If you’re internet plan is within this limit, consider getting this modem. Like the previous modem, CM500 is compatible with majority of internet service providers such as Spectrum, Cox and Comcast Xfinity. When it comes to speed and performance, the modem has theoretical speed of 680 Mbps. A test however shows that it provides about 300 Mbps in the real world. But even with that, the modem can be used for heavy internet usage such as large file downloads and high resolution streaming on Netflix and other services.

In addition, this modem features 16 downstream channels and 4 upstream channels. It also comes with one gigabit Ethernet port like all other DOCSIS 3.0 modems. Netgear never disappoints when it comes to design. The CM500 is large, solid and sturdy for durability. Lastly, it comes with a one year warranty

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This is the latest DOCSIS standard in use today. Unlike the previous versions, this one can is back compatible with the 3.0. In other words, a DOCSIS 3.1 modem also supports the 3.0 version. This is the main reason modems here are expensive. DOCSIS 3.1 was also developed to compete with the high speed and bandwidth of fiber optics. Because of this, it is the fastest cable internet standard with theoretical speeds of up to 2 Gbps. Unfortunately there is no cable internet provider that supports this version therefore, you may not get the best out of it. Although the said speed cannot be achieved, expect speeds of up to 350 Mbps using this modem.The following are two of the most popular DOCSIS 3.1 modems

Netgear CM1000

NETGEAR Cable Modem CM1000 - Compatible with All Cable Providers Including Xfinity by Comcast, Spectrum, Cox | for Cable Plans Up to 1 Gigabit | DOCSIS 3.1, Black (CM1000-1AZNAS)
  • Compatible with all major cable internet providers with internet speed up to 1Gbps. Currently certified...
  • Save monthly rental fees: Model CM1000 replaces your cable modem saving you up to dollar 168/year in...

If you’re looking for a high speed cable modem, this cable modem should be at the top of your list. It is a large tough looking device with a solid and sturdy build designed to last many years. In addition, the modem features 32 downstream channels and 8 upstream channels. The DOCSIS 3.1 compatibility makes it a wonderful choice for any intensive internet usage. Cable internet providers are slowly transitioning into version 3.1. Theoretically speaking, the modem boasts speeds of up to 10 Gbps(download) and 1 Gbps (upload), but these translate to about 2 Gbps and 300 Mbps respectively.

The Netgear CM1000 is wonderfully designed as a large polyhedron shape with sharp edges and soft corners. It is matte black in color and to prevent dirt and fingerprints from sticking on the surface.

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Arris Surfboard SB6141
Netgear CM1000
DOCSIS supported
3.1 and 3.0
Download – 343 Mbps

Upload –  131 Mbps

Download – 686 Mbps

Upload –  200 Mbps

Gigabit Ethernet Ports
8 Down

4 Up

32 Down

8 Up

256 MB
256 MB
Cable internet service providers supported
Comcast Xfinity, Cox, Mediacom Cable and others
Comcast Xfinity, Cox, Spectrum


It is important to consider the performance of a cable modem and for this, always look at the DOCSIS rating for guidance. The Netgear CM1000 is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a high speed cable modem. Arris SB6141 on the other hand is most suitable for small budgets and getting the job done.

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