Save Money and Get Better Performance—Buy Your Own Comcast-Approved Modem

by Morgan Staggers on February 1, 2017 in Comcast,Modem

Earlier this month in our look at DOCSIS 3.0 channel bonding, we mentioned the benefits of buying your own cable modem (CM). Today we’re going to examine in depth Comcast-approved cable modems (CMs).

For a brief overview of channel bonding, take a looksee at this informative video from Netgear:

Comcast a la Carte

For those unaware, Xfinity™ is the trademarked brand for Comcast’s triple play package of data/voice/video services. According to broadbandnow.com, over 34% of the U.S.—109.4 million—live in Comcast’s coverage area. Hence it’s the largest Multiple Services (or System) Operator (MSO) in the nation. Naturally, there’s a wide variety of services available to their subscribers depending on the quality of the cable plant and their proximity to fiber and/or network nodes. With this variety of services come a variety of CMs that support various versions of DOCSIS and VoIP. These devices serve as routers, Wi-Fi access points and/or wireless gateways. It goes without saying that these devices support the latest Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11ac standard.

The place to start when looking for Comcast-compatible devices is https://customer.xfinity.com/help-and-support/internet/list-of-approved-cable-modems/, a interactive website where subscribers can plug in variables such as data speed, VoIP and Wi-Fi to find suitable CMs. Comcast offers a choice of 7 download speeds (in Mbps): 10, 25, 75, 100, 150, 200 and 250. Using the link shown above, choose a speed and the page will display the following list of compatible devices. In case you’re wondering, “throughput” below refers to both downstream and upstream speeds. All of these CMs and wireless routers are certified to work with Xfinity and are ideal for simultaneous multiple device use with data intensive applications such as UHD or HD video streaming and high speed gaming with minimal latency.

Comcast-Approved Cable Modems (CMs) and Wireless Routers

Netgear CM600 24×8 CM DOCSIS 3.0Max throughput—960 Mbps

Requires wireless router. 24x faster than DOCSIS 2.0. 24 bonded channels downstream and 8 bonded channels upstream with maximum possible speeds 720 Mbps down and 240 Mbps up. Directly connects to a computer using Ethernet cable or to a wireless router for connecting to other wireless devices. No eMTA (embedded multimedia terminal adapter) capability; hence not for use with VoIP-bundled services. System requirements include most Microsoft Windows platforms (2000 and newer), Mac OS or any operating system running TCP/IP network. Browsers include Explorer 5.0, Safari 1.4 or Chrome 11.0 or higher.

Netgear CM700 32×8 CM DOCSIS 3.0 — Max Throughput—1.4 Gbps

An ‘Amazon Choice‘ product, which denotes that it can be ordered through Amazon’s ‘Echo‘ interface. Requires wireless router. 32x faster than DOCSIS 2.0. 32 bonded channels downstream and 8 bonded channels upstream with maximum possible speeds 1.12 Gbps down and 280 Mbps up. Directly connects to a computer using Ethernet cable or to a wireless router for connecting to other wireless devices.  No eMTA capability; hence not for use with VoIP-bundled services. System requirements include most Microsoft Windows platforms (2000 and newer), Mac OS or any operating system running TCP/IP network. Browsers include Explorer 5.0, Safari 1.4 or Chrome 11.0 or higher

Netgear CM1000 Ultra-High Speed 32×8 CM DOCSIS 3.1  — Max Throughput—10 Gbps

An ‘Amazon’s Choice’ product. Backwards compatible with DOCSIS 3.0. 3.1 supports 2 down and 2 up channels; 3.0 supports 32 down and 8 up channel bonding. Advertised as “10x faster than DOCSIS 3.0.” Features “fast web self-activation for XFINITY customers,” which mean Internet connectivity without a service call. No eMTA capability; hence not for use with VoIP-bundled services. Directly connects to a computer using Ethernet cable or to a wireless router for connecting to other wireless devices.

Netgear C7000-100NAS Nighthawk AC1900 WL Cable Modem Router DOCSIS 3.1.  Max Throughput—1.9 Gbps

Backwards compatible with DOCSIS 3.0. D3.1 supports 2 downstream and 2 upstream channels with synchronous 960 Mbps; 3.0 supports 32 down and 8 up channel bonding with maximum possible speeds of 960 Mbps down and 320 Mbps up. Note the “AC 1900” indicates both the 802.11ac standard and the combination of speeds from the 2.5 GHz and 5 GHz bandwidths. Hence this dual-band router is capable of handling 1.3 Gbps on the 5 GHz band and 600 Mbps on the 2.4 band. (1300 Mbps + 600 Mbps = 1900 Mbps or 1.9 Gbps.) The most expensive device on this list and made available on Amazon only within the last few months.

Arris SB6190 Retail SURFboard DOCSIS 3.0 CM.  Max Throughput—1.75 Gbps

Requires wireless router.  No eMTA capability; hence not for use with VoIP-bundled services. 32 bonded channels down and 8 bonded channels up. Supports IPv4 and IPv6. AC1750 dual-band concurrent — 1.4 Gbps down and 350 Mbps up.  Directly connect to a computer using Ethernet cable or to a wireless router for connecting to other wireless devices.

Arris SBG7580-AC DOCSIS 3.0 CM/Wi-Fi AC 1750 Router Gateway.  Max Throughput—1.75 Gbps

An ‘Amazon’s Choice’ product. No eMTA capability; hence not for use with VoIP-bundled services. Recommended for speeds 300 Mbps and up. 32 bonded channels down and 8 bonded channels up. AC1750 dual-band concurrent — 1.4 Gbps down and 350 Mbps up with Wi-Fi speeds of up to 1.75 Gbps. Features four Ethernet ports. Compatible with both Windows 7 and Mac OS.

Note when searching  for Comcast Business Internet compatibility, the URL is:

https://business.comcast.com/help-and-support/internet/comcast-business-cable-modem-device-compatibility

Coda

Be aware that any issues the user may have with his CM/router/gateway usually involve syncing or timing issues, i.e., Comcast’s cable modem termination system (CMTS) equipment at the headend or intermediate node can’t “see” the customer premise equipment (CPE). So it’s a good idea to hang onto to the previous CB/router until you make sure the new one works satisfactorily. It is recommended that once your CPE is provisioned, check to see how many channels are locked to take full advantage of your CM’s capabilities. In other words, if your CM can handle 32 channels up (and Comcast offers them in your area), make sure you in fact have 32 instead of 24 or 16.

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