10G Internet is Coming. Here’s how to get it.

What to expect as the next generation of cable broadband technology hits the US.

The internet is about to get a lot faster thanks to new advances by the world’s top cable internet entities. Huge infrastructure overhauls over the last decade coupled with some big leaps in cable internet technology could soon give consumers speeds as fast as 10 Gbps (gigabits per second). But it’s not just about the speeds, 10G internet also refers to a general upgrade of internet capabilities as a society.

You may be thinking, “What am I going to do with 10 Gbps?” The widespread availability of 10G internet could open the door to all kinds of incredible technology we don’t even know we need yet—aside from making the things we already do on the internet better.

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What is 10G internet?

The most basic explanation of 10G internet is a consumer internet connection with 10 Gbps download speeds. That’s roughly 10 times faster than some of the fastest internet plans currently available.

But the term 10G internet also represents a push for a more advanced, effective, and robust cable internet network that will encourage the widespread development of future technologies.

Superfast internet

The most obvious benefit of 10G internet is, of course, the speeds. With the development of 10G internet technologies, a 10,000 Mbps internet connection would be possible over much of the cable network infrastructure already installed in cities and homes throughout the county. We don’t have reports of any 10G speeds over cable yet, but in April, Comcast achieved download speeds up to 8 Gbps and upload speeds up to 6 Gbps in a test of 10G technologies.

Difference between 5G and 10G

The mobile broadband term 5G and the cable internet term 10G represent completely different technologies and concepts. 5G stands for “fifth generation” and refers to mobile internet. 10G stands for “10 gigabits per second” or 10,000 Mbps.

10G internet is cable internet, not fiber

Fiber internet is currently the fastest type of internet connection you can get, but 10G is actually being designed to run on cable internet networks. Cable ISPs and entities like Xfinity and CableLabs are the ones developing the tech and putting in the upgrades to make 10-gig speeds a reality for the masses. In the near future, 10G may close the gap and even push cable internet ahead of fiber as the best type of internet in the US.

Symmetrical gigabit speeds and low latency

Along with the promise of 10,000 Mbps download speeds, 10G advertises symmetrical gigabit speeds, something currently available only through a fiber internet connection. Another advantage of fiber is lower latency, probably due to the newer infrastructure and more elegant tech that supports fiber internet. But with the advances being undertaken to get 10G up and running, the cable internet of the future will likely meet or even surpass the current advantages of fiber internet.

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The tech behind 10G internet

DOCSIS 4.0

DOCSIS is a standard used for cable internet in the US and Europe. Right now, DOCSIS version 3.1 is being used for the fastest cable internet plans. DOCSIS 3.1 is largely responsible for the gigabit cable internet speeds we’ve seen develop rapidly in the past few years.

But, DOCSIS 3.1 doesn’t quite cut it for our grand 10G internet plans. While DOCSIS 3.1 can reach 10 Gbps downstream speeds, it only reaches 2 Gbps upstream speeds. A new DOCSIS, version 4.0, has been developed, which allows for higher speeds, symmetrical speeds, and a ton of other improvements that make true 10G internet possible.

DOCSIS 4.0 has been used in tests and labs, but there hasn’t been word of it being deployed for residential use yet.

Ultralow latency with hollow-core fiber-optic cable

Comcast’s 10G internet test included the deployment of 40 kilometers of a new kind of fiber-optic cable: hollow-core fiber-optic cable.

With traditional fiber cable, light signal data transmissions travel through a solid glass core. The glass cores of hollow-core fiber create air-filled channels; so, instead of passing through solid glass, the light signals travel through air. Because light travels a lot faster through air than it does through solid glass, hollow-core fiber dramatically increases the speed of light signal transmissions by as much as 50%.

Comcast is exploring deploying more hollow-core fiber in key areas of its network throughout the country. However, since a big perk of the 10G push is using existing infrastructure, it’s unclear how big of a part hollow-core will play in 10G internet.

What will 10G internet be like?

It’s safe to say the conveniences afforded by a 10G capable network will touch almost every aspect of our lives. Work, education, recreation, and home life are likely to see massive improvements and, in some cases, complete transformations.

Streaming VR/AR experiences

One of the most exciting developments likely to accompany the creation of a 10G network is the ability to stream virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences. For our work lives, this means the ability to connect and collaborate in virtual settings that mimic sharing a space. This goes beyond everyone wearing a headset and sitting in a virtual office. Holographic tools like light fields, holo rooms, and AR lenses will integrate these experiences more naturally into work environments.

It’s easy to imagine how the mass streaming of VR and AR experiences will impact other areas. Students will have access to information in more dynamic and impactful ways, like VR labs or real-time information displays in museums. Online shopping will almost certainly be transformed; you might be able to check out an interactive hologram of a new car or see what a piece of furniture looks like in your home through an AR lens. You’ll be able to meet, interact, and share with your family and friends in more ways as well.

More bandwidth means more possibilities

With the ability to transmit massive amounts of data, we’ll be able to achieve a new standard of technological advances that will have huge impacts on our society as a whole.

The medical field will be able to perform remote diagnostics and imaging that could help get care to more people. Transportation services like taxis and highway shipping may become completely automated. Convenience information, like contact info, navigation, and translation, can be displayed throughout the cities and appear in real-time when it’s needed.

We’ve all heard of a lot of these things before, but right now, while we have some of these technologies, we don’t have the network to deploy them in earnest. The 10G internet initiative is aimed at creating a network that will glue these various pieces of the future together.

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How can you get 10G internet?

As of now, widespread 10G internet isn’t available yet. At this point, Comcast is the only cable provider that has announced testing on a 10G network—though Spectrum and other ISPs are also preparing for 10G. As the nation’s largest cable ISPs, it’s reasonable to suspect that Xfinity and Spectrum will be the first to deploy residential 10G cable internet plans. So if you want 10G ASAP, having access to the Xfinity or Spectrum networks is a good place to start.

Some fiber ISPs, like AT&T and Ziply fiber can get you close to 10G speeds with 5,000 Mbps residential internet plans. There are even a few smaller fiber ISPs that offer 10 Gbps residential plans, but only in very select areas, like Sonic’s 10G plan available in the San Jose area.

When will 10G internet be available?

Comcast successfully tested a 10G network back in April, but there’s no word yet when customers can expect 10G. From what we know, it’s probably at least a few years away. Many of the technologies that enable 10G internet, like DOCSIS 4.0, have been developed but are yet to be deployed.

FAQ

What ISPs have 10G internet?

Only some smaller fiber ISPs currently offer 10 Gbps residential internet service, and in very select areas, like San Jose. Enter your zip code below to see what’s available in your area.

What’s the difference between 10G and 5G?

10G refers to 10 Gbps speeds, and the term is most often used to represent a joint initiative between cable internet entities and technology companies to achieve 10 Gbps speeds over residential cable internet networks.

5G stands for “fifth generation” and refers to mobile internet service.

Author -

Austin worked as a broadband technician installing and troubleshooting countless home internet networks for some of the largest ISPs in the U.S. He became a freelance writer in 2020 specializing in software guides. After graduating with a BS in technical communication from Arizona State University, he joined the team at HighSpeedInternet.com where he focuses on home network improvement and troubleshooting.

Editor - Aaron Gates