Comcast plans to bring multi-gig internet speeds to 34 cities across the US by the end of this year and will expand its reach to more than 50 million households by the end of 2025.
With multi-gig symmetrical speeds set for 2023, the company has already started rolling out 2-gig speeds over its broadband network in Colorado Springs, CO; Augusta, GA; Panama City Beach, FL; and Philadelphia, PA.
Customers in these cities will also take advantage of upload speeds that Comcast says are five to 10 times faster than what it currently offers. The upload speeds appear to max out at 200Mbps, even with the new Gigabit x2 plan, but Comcast intends to change that. It’s launching multi-gig symmetrical speeds next year, enabling multi-gig speeds for both downloads and uploads.
While symmetrical uploads and downloads are expected with fiber optic internet, cable has lagged. But with DOCSIS 4.0, a high-bandwidth broadband standard that allows for up to 10Gbps downloads and 6Gbps uploads, providers like Comcast can enable symmetrical connections over cable. As a result, Comcast is transitioning to the new normal and achieved 4Gbps upload and download speeds during a test in January.
Even though companies like AT&T, Frontier, Verizon, and Google are expanding their fiber networks, the service is still primarily limited to users located in metro areas. Symmetrical speeds on cable networks could be a welcome option for those needing a speedier connection but who aren’t in areas where fiber is available.
For now, Colorado Springs, Augusta, Panama City Beach, and Philadelphia customers won’t have to upgrade their modem to access Comcast’s faster (but not symmetrical) 2-gig speeds. However, Comcast Cable EVP Elad Nafshi told Fierce Telecom that once Comcast does roll out its balanced services next year, customers will need to upgrade their modem.
In January, Comcast declared that DOCSIS 4.0 lab tests using a prototype modem generated symmetrical speeds of 4 Gbit/s. However, at an April event at CableLabs, Comcast’s D4.0 demo consistently measured rates of 8.5 Gbit/s down and 5 Gbit/s upstream.
Comcast’s current top pace tier for its hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) network offers 1.2 Gbit/s downstream and 35 Mbit/s upstream. Gigabit Pro, Comcast’s targeted FTTP residential broadband assistance, nowadays pumps out symmetrical speeds of 3 Gbit/s.
Comcast expressed the speed upgrades tie into a more comprehensive network transformation initiative focused on cloud-based virtualization and other technical updates that pave the way for DOCSIS 4.0 and “10G.” The company said that the network virtualization effort also ties into a plan at Comcast to become carbon neutral by 2035.
DOCSIS 4.0 is a new batch of CableLabs specs for hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) networks suspended to sustain speeds of up to 10 Gbit/s downstream and 6 Gbit/s upstream with improved security and low-latency capabilities.
Comcast’s DOCSIS 4.0 deployment will concentrate on Full Duplex DOCSIS (FDX), a flavor of the spec that envisions the HFC network to build out to 1.2GHz and equipped with an FDX band upstream and downstream gridlock to occupy the same block of spectrum. Several other operators pursuing D4.0 are looking at Extended Spectrum DOCSIS (ESD), an option that envisions a spectrum upgrade to 1.8GHz while keeping downstream and upstream traffic split off and operating in a dedicated spectrum.
10G, a more comprehensive industry initiative supporting HFC, fiber, and even wireless access networks, targets symmetrical 10-Gig speeds along with higher security and low-latency capabilities.