Comcast runs successful real-world test of gigabit HFC


news In what it is calling a “world first”, Comcast has switched on gigabit hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) broadband at a home in the US.

Comcast said the test connection confirmed that the telecommunications standard used, DOCSIS 3.1, will work over its existing network as currently configured.

“The next-generation technology that will deliver gigabit Internet speeds moved from the laboratory to the living room late last month when we installed what we believe to be the world’s first DOCSIS 3.1 modem on a customer-facing network,” the broadcast and cable giant said.

The test of the new system was carried out at a home in the Philadelphia area, using standard cable connections. “All we needed was a new modem, a software upgrade to the device that serves that neighbourhood, and a few good engineers,” said Comcast

Under Labor’s previous near-universal Fibre to the Premises model for Australia’s National Broadband Network, the HFC cable and copper networks owned by Telstra and Optus would have been shut down. However, the Coalition’s Multi-Technology Mix plan instituted by Malcolm Turnbull as Communications Minister in the Abbott administration is seeing them acquired and upgraded by the NBN company.

The NBN company is planning to follow in Comcast’s footsteps and launch gigabit broadband services over the HFC cable networks as part of the NBN.

Comcast plans to continue testing over the coming months, as it prepares to start delivering its DOCSIS 3.1 service to customers. Comcast indicated that it will begin offering a gigabit speed broadband choice in several parts of the US “before the end of 2016”.

The advantage of DOCSIS 3.1 is that it is backwards compatible with existing infrastructure, which means streets and backyards do not need to be re-excavated to lay new cable.

“This technology, when combined with the extensive upgrades we have already completed on our advanced Hybrid Fiber-Coaxial network, will provide more gigabit choices for our customers,” said the telco.

In coming months, Comcast said it plans to switch on HFC at more test homes using DOCSIS 3.1 technology in order to observe how it performs in “multiple real-world environments”. The results of the tests will be used to make whatever “minor modifications” are necessary for deployment to customers.

Since installing the first live DOCSIS 3.1 modem in Philadelphia, the company has expanded the trials to additional locations in Pennsylvania, Northern California and Atlanta, Georgia.


  1. Can’t wait for NBN to confirm that they are actually going to upgrade my areas Optus HFC to Docsis 3.1 in 2016/17, or extend and upgrade the 3km away Telstra HFC Network, or go FTTP or FttDp. Anything but FTTN please.

    • Don’t drop your game … Demand FTTP. I don’t have much hope for cable infrastructure when under load.

    • interesting opinion. but im not sure i would opt HFC over FTTN. its not that simple

      HFC is shared – its a single pair looped around your suburb. on that single pair, its modulated on freq. 20kHz to 50kHz and has a theoretical max shared for your cable.
      its basically jamming WiFi down a COAX cable. it works OK, but your actual throughput depends on your neighbors usage. ie, your modem might say its connected at 1Gbps, the actual throughput depends on total load on that cable.

      looking at history, all computer networks used to be COAX from the 70s-80s. then we moved to CAT and now Fibre. computer network designers phased out COAX because its not great. basically, HFC is another antiquated technology like copper. flogging 2x dead horses.

      FTTN does however gives you a dedicated copper pair. your sync speed is your speed and not affected by your neighbors (assuming there is enough back-haul from the node)

      i would probably prefer FTTN if i lived within 200m .. HFC otherwise.

      also, HFC would have made sense if the government actually owned it.. but buying it is stupid.

      • Yes, especially buying it twice.. in my area we have both Optus and Telstra cable running along side by side

      • You do understand that MANY of the backhuals are currently 1Gbps right? 1Gbps is massive You DON’T need that for one person but over a Neighborhood it would mean no buffering. “Netflix currently offers is Super HD, which requires a connection between 6-12 Mbps ” so you’re talking about 100 4k Streams on the network.

    • DATES? Quiet peasant! Bow before the Lords of Canberra – the honorable ones – who have had first class fibre internet since mid 2013 in their offices of magic. How dare you compare your filthy, downtrodden serf existence to them! You will accept your station in life. Work hard with a scythe, break your back in the fields, and forever revere our beloved Leader Lord Lightbulb, and someday you may be given better internet.

      But for now pick up that scythe serf! It is more than you deserve!

  2. For only US$275 a month 1gpbs cable is all yours compared to US$75 Google Fibre 1gbps.

  3. Notice the wording:

    “All we needed was a new modem, a software upgrade to the device that serves that neighbourhood, and a few good engineers,”

    So are you telling me they have 1 HFC node per neighborhood? If so contention over there is far less of an issue then it is here. Testing 1 house and claiming “oh look gigabit speeds” is irrelevant because it doesn’t represent a real-world use case / scenario in exactly the same way that the coalitions initial testing of FTTN wasn’t representative.

    Does this mean NBN will use comcast trials as justification for their own malformed plans? Or will they be splitting the nodes further (as is only proper to maintain QoS) mimicing the 1 node per neighborhood paradigm of comcast?

    Given the slogan is “sooner, cheaper, more affordable” i don’t have high hopes -_-

  4. “Comcast has switched on gigabit HFC broadband at *A* home in the US.”

    They should ask Optus what happens when more homes in the street are connected.

    • Derek still waiting for the usual mob to claim at look at those speeds achieved and then contradicting thems selves saying we don’t need those speeds.

  5. Comcast is the worst internet providers
    And what uplink will we get when all cable modem are sitting on 1gb or 1GB

    • Uploads use a difference frequency. The problem is if the cable is being used for cable television. If that’s the case there is additional work as you need to move the television service to another frequency as well.

  6. Also no mention of what number of premises they have per optical node, 200-500 is apparently common in the USA.

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