Comcast stepped up its broadband game this week, launching a new symmetrical 10-gig service tier for its Gigabit Pro fiber customers and reiterated a plan to bring multi-gigabit options to millions of cable customers. The move comes as Comcast prepares to launch DOCSIS 4.0 capabilities for cable customers by the end of the year.
The rollout marks a step up from the fiber speeds previously available to Gigabit Pro fiber subs. The operator began offering 3 Gbps in November 2021, but boosted that to 6 Gbps by the fall of 2022. It seems Comcast began field testing 10-gig capabilities for customers shortly thereafter, with some users stating on Reddit in October 2022 that they were starting to see these speeds.
According to the latest data from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Comcast today primarily offers fiber to the premises in the areas around Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Nashville, Knoxville, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Miami and West Palm Beach.
Comcast Cable EVP and Chief Network Officer Elad Nafshi told Fierce that the product is technically available nationwide, not just in areas where it has fiber. If a cable customer decides they want 10G, Comcast will come in and upgrade their drop from coaxial cable to fiber, he said.
In order to fully take advantage of the speeds now available on the fiber network, Comcast said users will need a 10G router or firewall, a desktop computer with a PCIe expansion slot, a 10G 850 nm multimode fiber (MMF), small form-factor pluggable (SFP) transceiver, a 10G PCIe network interface controller (NIC) adapter with small form-factor pluggable (SFP) cage and a multimode fiber LC cable patch.
Nafshi told Fierce in February that the operator isn’t planning to overlay its cable network with fiber anytime soon. However, he noted the distributed access architecture it is adopting ahead of its DOCSIS 4.0 rollout is opening the door for more fiber deployments.
Though fiber advances may be moving faster, Comcast is also investing in upgrades to its cable system. It launched a new cable broadband tier offering 2 Gbps downstream and 200 Mbps upstream in September 2022. In October, it made a 2 Gbps/100 Mbps tier available to cable customers across 14 states in the Northeastern U.S.
Comcast said it is still planning to make multi-gig speeds available to more than 50 million locations by the end of 2025 and expects to begin rolling out DOCSIS 4.0 before the end of this year.
Nafshi told Fierce it is "heads down hardening and operationalizing products to meet the target deadline" for DOCSIS 4.0 and said the launch will by its nature include the introduction of a new speed tier.
"DOCSIS 4.0 will enable us to launch greater speeds and more speed symmetry when we launch, which by definition means it's going to be a new tier service because we don't currently offer those symmetrical tiers," he concluded. "A lot more to come."
This story has been updated with comments from Comcast's Elad Nafshi.