The chocolate ration is being increased to 25 grammes per week.

Comcast’s hidden policy: Business Internet customers w/static IPs must rent modems

First, they tricked me into paying monthly for their modem, now they are preventing me from using a modem I purchased.  Here’s the story of that particular level of hell reserved for Comcast customers.

I researched which modem to get for a long time.  It came down to the Motorola SB6141 and SB6121 modems.  Comcast’s own compatibility chart didn’t seem to suggest either would be better for me, so I chose the newer model (the SB6141).

My SB6141 comes, I plug it in and call Comcast.  I settled in for what I thought would be a long call.  Sometime after the new modem was activated and we were having trouble getting it to work, the Comcast rep said “you can’t use this modem, it’s not certified for Business class service.”  He also said that I couldn’t use this modem with static IPs, like I have, so I would definitely have to get another one, and the SB6121 was a good choice, he said.  After some interrogation by me, I gave up and put the old modem back.  The guy configured it and we couldn’t get it to work.  He said “I can see the modem fine from this side, so the problem is definitely on your side.”  Right.  I fiddle for an hour and find nothing wrong (I didn’t change anything on my side, after all), so I call back.  Turns out the original guy configured the network mask incorrectly.  Anyway, after several hours I’m back up, though a little more pissed than I started.

So, I ordered the SB6121 and sent the SB6141 back to Amazon.

My SB6121 comes, I plug it in and call Comcast.  I settle in again for what I assume will be a long call.  The nice lady activates the new modem and says “oh, you have static IPs and this modem doesn’t work with static IPs.”   What?  Are you kidding me?  First, the modem for sure does support static IPs.  I say this with absolute authority.  She relents and says, “well, it is Comcast policy that static IPs require a modem rental.”  I plead with her not to do this.  I tell her the tale of woe above, about the first modem.  She puts me on hold for 10 minutes while she checks around.  Comes back and says “sorry” nothing she can do.   I reinstall the old modem and she activates it, without problem this time.

I’m sending the SB6121 back today.

Let’s review:

  • Comcast tells me when I sign up for service the modem is included.
  • Later, they decide they want that revenue and even though they told me it was free, they start charging.
  • One internet shit storm later, Comcast says “but you can buy your own modem if you don’t want to pay for ours!”
  • I buy not one but TWO modems that are on their compatibility list, only to finally be told of their policy: if you are a Business Internet customer with static IPs you must rent the modem.

Let’s be clear: there is absolutely no technical reason for this policy, and either of the modems I bought would have worked fine had Comcast wanted to activate them.

Comcast, you make it so easy to hate you.

UPDATE 4/30/13:

I posted this on a Comcast forum and got this reply from user networkengineer:

Sorry to hear all your issues. I too am a Comcast Business customer as well as a Sr. Network Engineer for one of Silicon Valley’s largest tech companies. There is actually a very good reason for them to require you use their cable modem/router for static IPs. They provide static IPs via a routing protocol called RIP. They do not provide static IPs to business customers via a bridge connection (local gateway other side of the wire) and for good reason. Most business customers would not want static IPs in the same subnet as other business customers. There are many reasons for this that would require a whole separate conversation.

Since they use a routing protocol to do this, they require a routing security mechanism that is built into the linux based SMC router. This is to ensure those that know just enough to be dangerous do not poison and/or destroy the routing tables for all other Comcast customers. You as a customer can not see the routing protocol and how they secure it from the customer accessible WebUI.

With that being said, not all is lost. If you really want a bridged connection with multiple sticky IPs, I know with a Residential account, you can get a 2nd one for $4.95 and additional ones thereafter for $9 each. This may or may not fulfill your needs. You would be able to use the SB6141 with the 8×4 channels as well.

If you want to remain on the Comcast Business account using the SB6121, you can switch to a dynamic IPv4 address and fill out this form to get a /56 IPv6 subnet wherein you can have static IPv6 addresses there. There are routers such as the ASUS RT-N66U or the Netgear WRN3500L where you can run open source firmware like TomatoUSB to enable the IPv6 function.

IPv6 is coming faster than most people realize and this could be the better route for you in the long haul.

So, it looks like there is a good reason to require me to have a modem they control.  That’s fine, but:

  • This modem is an essential part of the service, and
  • their argument the rental is because the equipment is optional is no longer valid.

Will they also start charging me a rental fee for the wire the laid from the telephone pole in front of my house?

17 responses to “Comcast’s hidden policy: Business Internet customers w/static IPs must rent modems

  1. John May 1, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    Amazing – your experience mirrors, almost exactly, what I just went through with Comcast – I was told that I could use my own modem, right up to the point where I called customer service to have them set up my SB6141, and was told then that they couldn’t, or wouldn’t,use a client’s modem, only their rental modem. Sales person was either incompetent or dishonest – either way, the customer loses…..

  2. Doug July 19, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    I just went through the same issue. When I first called, they said if I had the exact same SMC model as the one they rented me, I could keep a static ip. So, I went out and bought one. I called back a few weeks later to be told that there is no way to use a self purchased modem even if it is the same model.

    So basically, they might as well say on their site “$23 if you plan on having a static ip because you need our equipment”. So far, this has been my only complaint with Comcast Business.

  3. jlr September 9, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    You can buy an smc modem yourself that you wouldnt have to rent and it would support static ip’s. The smc you can buy also has wifi built in which comcast modem doesnt have either. Do some homework before you buy a modem, comcast doesnt use residential modems on commercial accts for a reason.

    • envoy510 September 9, 2013 at 11:36 pm

      Did you read my post? I bought the one they told me but they wouldn’t activate it because it’s their policy that Business users cannot use anything both a rented modem with static IPs.

    • Doug September 10, 2013 at 12:09 am

      I had the same issue as envoy510. I did buy an SMC modem that is the same exact model as the rented modem. Multiple Comcast reps said they will not assign it a static IP address because it isn’t a rented modem.

  4. JD September 24, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    I’m a Comcast business customer also. If you log onto the SMC box supplied by Comcast you will see that the firmware is substantially different from the standard SMC firmware. Comcast is big enough and has sufficient invested in their network that they developed a number of custom firmware modifications. That’s why you have to use one of their modems on their network.

    • envoy510 September 25, 2013 at 7:53 pm

      My problem is they lied to me twice and I purchased two different modems on their recommendation. And, of course, the reason they gave for the $9.99/mo was that it was optional equipment. So, two lies.

  5. tonyb September 25, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    Keep in mind all these cable and telco’s outsource their Level 1 tech support, those are generally poorly paid and poorly trained support folks who are given a bare minimum script, you cannot expect them to answer anything too complicated. If you have a serious technical question, try to by pass them and get to level 2,3 support, where you might actually get an answer.

  6. Lee October 26, 2013 at 4:43 am

    “IPv6 is coming faster than most people realize…”

    Ha! I *expected* it 3 years ago…

  7. Jeff N January 12, 2014 at 1:23 am

    I used to pay for a static IP address, but the reality is that the dynamic IP address never changes unless your router MAC changes, and that’s easy to clone with most routers. I’ve had the same “dynamic” IP address for several years now. I used to run a dynamic DNS client, but now I don’t even bother with that.

  8. Stewart July 27, 2014 at 2:02 am

    I am dumping the business class service, static IPs and rental charges. DDNS options exist. I don’t use Comcast email or domains. Static IPs are nice but not worth $240 per year! I was willing to overlook that before they added equipment charges of $120 per year and increased the service by $120 per year! They have upset me so much, I’m shopping for a new service provider! I can’t wait for Google Fiber to come to our area. I’ll bet they do everything possible to stop or slow that train. When it happens, I’ll bet the tone changes from Comcast and AT&T. Comcast is out of control and customers that can leave, will leave. Do I expect Comcast to change? only in areas where they must! They will soak customers in areas that have no choices.

  9. how to configure best comcast best comcast modem for xbox August 28, 2014 at 6:16 am

    Very good blog post. I definitely appreciate this site.
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  10. Jeff Woods August 31, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Very similar story here… I opted to provide my own modem from the start and had my service contract rewritten to reflect this in the pricing (saving $10/month). I had the modem present when the installer arrived to do the initial service connection, but my modem could not be activated due to a a “MAC address conflict”. A bit difficult to believe — this was new equipment just removed from a shrink-wrapped box! So, the installer connects the service and leaves one of their “rental” modems until I can replace the equipment.

    So, off to the store to replace the modem. A few days later, with a new modem in hand, I call Comcast back. This time, they tell me that the modem is not compatible with their business service — this is the SAME MODEL I originally gave the installer. Between the installer and the sales guy, neither of them bothered to mention that there was a list of supported hardware.

    A third trip to the store, and I return home with a “qualified” Motorola SB6141 modem. I call, and everything checks out okay. They can’t do the activation over the phone, though, so +3 business days for a call back.

    Still waiting to get this stuff hooked up. It’s been nearly two weeks, and I’m still using their rental gear. This is REALLY sad Comcast!!

  11. how to configure best comcast dsl best comcast modem for September 28, 2014 at 3:10 pm

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  12. Roger November 21, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    Crap! I just fell into the same trap. I called and verified that I could use my 6141 with my static IP’s. “Sure, no problem” until you try to get it configured. I bought it off of woot, thus no returns. guess I’ll have to try to recover some of the money off ebay. What a croc. Same deal, when I signed up for Comcast Business the modem was free, over the past years they have started charging for it and increased the amount twice. They also sent me a letter explaining that I did not pay enough for my 5 IP’s so they raised that price too.

    Someone, Anyone… compete with these crooks!

  13. cpv January 9, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    You should register a complaint with the public utilities commission in your state. This is highway robbery, and misleading advertising. The fact that they are using RIP, should not stop a knowledgeable person from setting up a router at the outside of the business to connect with the Comcast network.

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