Comcast preps for symmetrical service with new CPE

Comcast has touted all the network upgrades it is doing as it pushes toward DOCSIS 4.0, but it appears to be planning one more key move: rolling out new Wi-Fi routers that can handle the speeds it’s aiming to deliver.

Speaking during an investor conference, Comcast Cable CEO David Watson said the company views Wi-Fi as a key element of its broadband package. Rather than trying to push out new CPE all at once when it’s ready to roll out symmetrical and multi-gig speeds, Watson said it’s trying to get ahead of the curve.

“We will be delivering early next year a new gateway that is the first tri-band gateway device that includes the 6 GHz band. So, we’ll have 2.4, 5 GHz, 6GHz, plenty of bandwidth. And it really is a terrific way to make sure proactively as we grow and go towards multi-gig symmetrical down the road that we have the right CPE.”

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In September, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts highlighted the company’s strategy of trying to deepen its customer relationships with the right products and services, like Wi-Fi and TV. But Watson said it is also working to grow the sheer number of customers it has in the first place.

“We are not standing still,” he said. “We added last year alone over 870,000 new homes passed. So, we also are growing and adding more capability. Our total addressable marketplace will continue to increase.”

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In terms of competition, Watson said 40% of its footprint is already overbuilt with fiber, a figure which is expected to reach 55% over time. But “that still leaves 45% that’s they’ve not addressed and that we’re still going at it hard. There’s still DSL that’s out there, there’s still non-fiber footprint that we will go at.”

Wireless update

Watson also provided an update on the operator’s wireless MVNO business. The unit set a record when it posted 285,000 net additions in Q3, but Watson said it is on track to “beat that” in Q4. “We’ll set a record for wireless lines that we’ll add,” he predicted.

Speaking about its plans to deploy its own wireless infrastructure using its CBRS (3.5GHz) and 600MHz spectrum assets, Watson revealed it is “actively testing” in Philadelphia “right now”. He reiterated use of its own infrastructure could offer “a good opportunity to offload traffic down the road,” adding it will “know a lot more next year as we complete some of the testing.”

“It just gives us terrific optionality,” he concluded. “It’s not something we have to do.”