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DOCSIS 3.0 vs. DOCSIS 3.1—What's the Difference?

On the lookout for your next cable modem? Understanding the differences between devices can be challenging, especially if you’re unfamiliar with technical jargon, so how do you decide?

At Minim, we strive to make networking simple for everyone, so we’ll explore the major differences between DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 cable modems. That way, you can better understand the two before making your decision at checkout. 

What Is DOCSIS?

Not sure what DOCSIS means? DOCSIS, or Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification, is an international telecommunications standard allowing high-bandwidth data transfer to an existing coaxial cable TV system. Interstate Interchanges are a great way to visualize how a DOCSIS modem works: your cable TV signal travels via a coax cable highway into your home until it reaches the cable modem interchange, where the signal exits to the internet interstate. This process enables the router that connects your devices to the internet to work.   

If you have cable internet set up through an ISP like Xfinity, Cox, or Spectrum (just to name a few), you likely have a DOCSIS modem. 

The key differences between a DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1 modem are pricing, performance, and availability. Continue reading to explore the pros and cons of each. 

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The Benefits of DOCSIS 3.0 Modems

If you’re looking to save a little on your wallet and already have a high-speed internet plan, you can probably get away with using a DOCSIS 3.0 modem without suffering from performance issues. DOCSIS 3.0 cable modems are generally much cheaper than their 3.1 counterparts and are also likely to have more options available, including used and refurbished devices. 

Key Differentiators

  • Price: DOCSIS 3.0 cable modems are usually much more affordable and cost between $50 to $150 new, whereas 3.1 modems can quickly spike up to the $150 to $250 price range. 
  • Availability: You're likely to have many more options when shopping for a DOCSIS 3.0 modem because they’ve been out on the market for much longer than their 3.1 alternatives. 

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The Benefits of DOCSIS 3.1 Modems

While DOCSIS 3.1 cable modems tend to be pricier, they offer performance improvements that make the extra cost worthwhile. If you already have a high-speed internet plan, DOCSIS 3.1 modems help you reach your plan’s full potential with download speeds ten times faster than DOCSIS 3.0. They also offer improved security features and longer-term sustainability, as most major manufacturers have already taken steps towards replacing DOCSIS 3.0 devices with 3.1 modems because of their significant performance increases. 

Key Differentiators

  • Speed: DOCSIS 3.1 cable modems support faster download and upload speeds, making them better suited for high-speed plans.
  • Security: Although both modems have built-in security features, DOCSIS 3.1 modems offer better online security, especially if you purchase a modem-router combo device like the Motorola MT8733 DOCSIS 3.1 Cable Modem + WiFi 6 Router.
  • Sustainability: DOCSIS 3.0 modems aren't entirely outdated yet; it’s clear that manufacturers are transitioning to favor 3.1 devices due to their overall improvements in users’ network experiences in the last decade. 

Which One Is Right for You?

To recap, if you’re satisfied with sticking with a lower or mid-tier internet plan and want to save a little money, a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem will work fine for your needs without breaking the bank. On the other hand, if you have a need for speed and want a device you can use for a longer period without worrying about having to replace it, a DOCSIS 3.1 modem is worth looking into. 

Still need help deciding which device is best for your needs? Take our product quiz so we can help you find the right Motorola product for your home.