Comcast debuts 2-gig internet service, plots symmetrical multi-gig rollout in 2023

Comcast is looking to keep up with the Joneses in an increasingly fiber-driven broadband market, announcing a new internet tier offering speeds of up to 2 Gbps downstream and teasing the launch of even faster, symmetrical speeds next year. Speaking at a Bank of America investor conference on Thursday, Comcast EVP and Deputy CFO and Treasurer Jason Armstrong said the operator will be in the market with DOCSIS 4.0 and offering symmetrical multi-gig broadband in the second half of 2023. For now, though, upload speeds will top out at 200 Mbps.

The operator it said rollouts of its 2-gig offering are underway in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Augusta, Georgia; and Panama City Beach, Florida. It added the service will be available in a total of 34 markets by the end of 2022 and to more than 50 million locations across the country by the end of 2025.

Elad Nafshi, EVP and Chief Network Officer at Comcast Cable, told Fierce the faster speeds will be available on any DOCSIS 3.1 modem, meaning no upgrades will be required. That said, he noted its recently launched Wi-Fi 6E router will deliver the best experience.

Comcast already offers speeds of up to 1.2 Gbps across its entire cable network using DOCSIS 3.1 technology and has been rolling out mid-split upgrades over the past several months in preparation for an update to DOCSIS 4.0. Speeds of up to 6 Gbps are already available to certain Xfinity fiber customers.

According to Nafshi, the mid-split upgrades are just one small piece of the work it has put into enabling the new speed tier. He pointed to its deployment of a virtual cable modem termination system (vCMTS) as well as digital nodes and digital optics as critical pieces of the puzzle which also lay the groundwork for its future DOCSIS 4.0 rollout.

“The way we’re delivering the increased upstream speeds is by, for the very first time, launching DOCSIS 3.1 in the upstream. It’s by relying on the Octave platform that enables us to truly optimize the delivery of those greater upstream speeds by leveraging those new upstream frequencies in order to deliver on this product. Extending additional DOCSIS 3.1 channels, which enable us to deliver the 2-gig speeds as well. There’s a lot of firsts coming to market here,” he explained.

But for all the talk about DOCSIS 3.1, Comcast will be making the move to DOCSIS 4.0 sooner rather than later. Notably, the operator teased plans to offer multi-gig symmetrical services starting next year, though didn't specify what speed it would offer.

Comcast's forthcoming move will allow it to address a key criticism levied by fiber competitors, namely that cable operators can’t provide the same kinds of symmetrical multi-gig speeds optical networks can. Many fiber providers have already debuted 2-gig, 5-gig and even 10-gig services.

For its multi-gig symmetrical offerings, Nafshi said, customers will need a new router. Comcast is currently in the process of developing that equipment and announced earlier this year that it achieved symmetrical speeds of more than 4 Gbps in a modem trial with Broadcom.


This story has been updated to include a comment from Comcast exec Jason Armstrong.