For Comcast Internet customers frustrated by the cable service’s slow upload speeds, there have been some welcome announcements recently. But the availability of faster Comcast uploads has a catch—users can only get the higher upstream speeds by purchasing xFi Complete, which adds $25 to monthly broadband costs.
“As markets launch, Xfinity Internet customers who subscribe to xFi Complete will have their upload speeds increased between 5 and 10 times faster,” an announcement last week said. “xFi Complete includes an xFi gateway, advanced cybersecurity protection at home and on the go, tech auto-upgrades for a new gateway after three years, and wall-to-wall Wi-Fi coverage with an xFi Pod [Wi-Fi extender] included if recommended. Now, another benefit of xFi Complete is faster upload speeds.”
Comcast is deploying the speed upgrade in the Northeast US over the next couple of months. Plans with 10Mbps upload speeds will get up to 100Mbps upload speeds once the new tiers roll out in your region—if you pay for xFi Complete. Comcast told Ars that faster upload speeds will come to customer-owned modems “later next year” but did not provide a more specific timeline.
There is a cheaper way to get the same xFi Gateway with Wi-Fi 6E, as Comcast offers the option to rent that piece of hardware for $14 a month. But Comcast is only making the upload boost available to those who subscribe to the pricier xFi Complete service.
While the standard monthly rate for xFi Complete is $25, new customers who sign up by December 31 can get it for $20 monthly during the first year of service.
Comcast vague on timing for user-owned hardware
We asked Comcast today if there’s any technical reason it can’t deliver the higher upload speeds on customer-owned equipment. A company spokesperson responded that Comcast is working on bringing faster uploads to non-Comcast modems.
“We intend to extend the experience to customer-owned modems later next year and are working through the technical requirements as we learn,” Comcast said. “We started offering it with our own equipment first and now are working through how to extend to customer-owned equipment.”
Comcast also said that giving the upload boost to xFi Complete customers first follows its “typical validate, test, and certification process for a new network innovation.” But if the reasons for limiting the upload boost to Comcast hardware initially are purely technical instead of revenue-based, it’s not clear why people who rent the gateway for $14 a month shouldn’t get the same benefit.
Comcast has also been teasing Full Duplex upgrades that are supposed to provide symmetrical download and upload speeds over cable. Comcast says it will offer multi-gigabit download and upload speeds to at least some cable customers “before the end of 2023.” It won’t be surprising if those upgrades require subscribing to xFi Complete.