Comcast promises a huge increase in cable upload speeds by the end of 2023

A Comcast modem and gateway router device labeled with the Xfinity brand.
Zoom in / Comcast’s advanced xFi gateway.

Getty Images | Jeff Fusco

Comcast today announced that it has tested “the final technical component needed to deliver symmetrical multi-gigabit speeds” and said it is on track to deliver multi-gigabit download and upload speeds to at least some cable customers “by the end of. 2023 “. The test using Broadcom equipment provided download speeds of 6 Gbps and upload speeds of 4 Gbps, Comcast said.

Cable broadband lags far behind home fiber in upload speeds, a frustration for many internet users who don’t have access to fiber. Comcast and other cable companies have been promising a major update to uploads for years without ever saying exactly when the improvement would reach customers.

Comcast is starting to get a little more specific, though that “end 2023” promise doesn’t specify what percentage of customers will receive the update when it first launches. Upgrading Comcast’s entire cable territory should be a multi-year process.

“With this test completed, Comcast will launch live trials later this year and begin delivering 10G-powered symmetrical multi-gig services to customers before the end of 2023,” Comcast said. (10G is a marketing term used by the cable industry to describe speeds of 10 gigabits per second.)

Comcast has not said what it will charge customers for multi-gigabit symmetrical service or whether the upgrade will be coupled with any changes to the data limit imposed in most of Comcast’s territory. While the upgrade does not require replacing the cables entering customers’ homes, installing all the right equipment in Comcast’s network will take a few years.

Comcast’s stubbornly slow upload speeds begin to soar

In October 2017, the CableLabs research and development consortium announced the completion of a DOCSIS version capable of delivering download and upload speeds of 10 Gbps. Seemingly envious of the hype over 5G wireless networks, the NCTA cable lobby group in January 2019 launched a “10G” marketing campaign. He promised “symmetrical speeds up to 10 times faster than today’s fastest networks”.

But actual upload speeds remained stubbornly slow on cable networks, which were originally designed for broadcasting television programs rather than broadband. Comcast’s cable upload speeds have hit 35 Mbps for many years, and customers have had to purchase the most expensive gigabit download plan just to get 35 Mbps uploads. Upload speeds on the cheapest plans were only 3 Mbps, as we wrote last year.

But this is starting to change. Comcast on September 8 announced the availability of multi-gigabit cable download speeds and upload speeds of between 75 Mbps and 200 Mbps, but initially only in certain markets (Colorado Springs, Colorado; Augusta, Georgia and Panama City Beach, Florida).

Comcast said this multi-gigabit implementation – to be clear, it’s about multi-gigabit download speeds with uploads of up to 200 Mbps – will be “available in 34 cities and countries by the end of 2022” and “more than 50 million. of homes and businesses before the end of 2025 “. Comcast customers are therefore likely to get a more modest increase in upload speeds before seeing multi-gigabit uploads teased in today’s announcement.

Comcast has also been selling symmetrical fiber internet at home since 2015, but at much higher prices than cable and not across its entire territory. It is hoped that DOCSIS upgrades that will extend symmetrical multi-gigabit speeds to Comcast cable will be offered at more affordable prices than Comcast Fiber, which costs $ 300 per month.

DOCSIS full duplex

The delivery of symmetrical multi-gigabit speeds on existing cables will be achieved with the “Full Duplex” upgrade to DOCSIS, the cable data service interface specification used throughout the industry. Comcast said:

Comcast previously successfully completed the world’s first tests of 10G networking and modem technologies, including demonstrating a complete home-network 10G loop. The test, announced today at SCTE EXPO, showed the ability to provide Full Duplex DOCSIS 4.0 (FDX) services on newly developed FDX amplifiers. FDX was originally designed for network environments without radio frequency amplifiers, so the new FDX amplifiers greatly simplify extending the benefits of 10G to all customers within range of the network.

For testing, Comcast inserted new 10G amplifiers, built on a reference design developed by Broadcom, into a complete 10G network loop using previously tested DOCSIS 4.0 modems and networking technologies. The team demonstrated download speeds of 6 Gbps and upload speeds of 4 Gbps on a full cascade of six amplifiers, sometimes called “N + 6”. This architecture includes the vast majority of the Comcast network and is easily and quickly replicable where network environments may differ. Consequently, test success is the key to delivering 10G to all Comcast customers.

In addition to the upload and download increases, Comcast said the update “will bring significant improvements in latency performance.”

While the full-duplex upgrade is likely not going to happen as quickly as customers want, Comcast has seen the benefit of being able to upgrade speeds without replacing cables. The DOCSIS upgrade will enable Internet providers to “deliver improved speed and performance to hundreds of millions of people via the connections already installed in their homes, without the need to dig backyards and neighborhoods, or choose who gets faster speeds and who doesn’t.” t, “Comcast said.