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Broadcom, Comcast prep for gigabit cable service to begin in 2015

Mark Hachman | Jan. 7, 2015
Move over, Google Fiber. Broadcom has begun sampling its first cable modem chip supporting DOCSIS 3.1, the technology that will enable gigabit cable Internet service in 2015. Comcast has already signed on.

Liberty Global, which claims to be the world's largest cable company with installations in 52 million homes across Europe, also said it would support DOCSIS 3.1. "The next generation of DOCSIS technology supports the Gigabit speeds our subscribers will increasingly demand over time," said Balan Nair, Liberty Global's executive vice president and CTO, in a statement. "DOCSIS 3.1 will enable Liberty Global to deliver an even richer experience once we begin deploying this cost-effective technology during the second half of 2015."

Broadcom said that the higher speeds DOCSIS 3.1 offers should help encourage cable providers to move their video content entirely to IP-based signals.

Buy your own modem, or continue leasing?

The coming upgrades to cable service also may change the economics of deciding whether to rent your modem from a cable provider like Comcast, or purchase your own. Comcast doubled its available throughput, for free, in mid-2014, meaning those with older cable modems may be missing out. But Comcast's deployment of its Xfinity WiFi hotspots also gave those who are currently paying $8 per month to lease their modem pause to reconsider. 

As Ars Technica discovered, however, Comcast is raising its cable modem lease fees, from $8 to $10 per month. (My own bill reflects that, too.) That's probably a tiny fraction of what you're paying per month, but consider: will a $80 to $100 modem that you yourself purchase pay for itself that much faster? Or is it worth leasing a modem, and asking for a free upgrade when gigabit services roll out? 

Whatever you decide, it's good to know that truly next-generation cable modem speeds are just over the horizon.


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