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?


28 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

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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!!

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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.

  14. Charlie May 31, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    I tried to set up 2 commercial clients with SB6183 modems yesterday.

    Client 1: We had repeated internet access problems and dropped calls in the office. The Comcast tech inspected the lines and said we had a weak signal but probably not weak enough for Comcast to fix the line. He said the tech installing the system put an amp on the outside, but that that was insufficient. They should have put an amp inside as well, he said. My client has had his own modem and router for years, and the tech suggested we get the SB6183 with 16 channels (the office has a lot of computers on the network and potentially accessing the internet at the same time). He has the SB6183 at home and loves it. He did improve the signal strength with the interior amp, and internet access has been stable, but my client is still getting dropped calls and has made several calls to Comcast for help. Yesterday I called to activate the new modem. I was told by the phone tech it would be 24-48 hours to activate the new modem (the old one would continue on the account as well). All fine and good, but why couldn’t they activate the modem immediately as they do with residential accounts? The tech said they have the delay because they don’t like businesses to self install. He really said that.

    Client 2: I called to install the new modem and was told we could not use the new modem with a static ip. (My client had ordered a static ip twice (the second order was for the 4 ip package). Both times he was told he would get a follow up email with confirmation and instructions. My client never heard from Comcast. When confronted with this (and the Comcast tech on the phone, the owner decided to junk the static ips in favor of having his own equipment. We also insisted that Comcast credit any charges because we were unaware we had the static ips (see more below). The phone tech said they would remove the static ips but it would take 5-7 days to activate the new modem, and, when activated, the old gateway would stop working immediately. So, my client would lose internet access until I could rush over to the office and install the new modem and router. Are you kidding me?! I made the strong point that we could have no down time and I insisted on having the gateway remain active until I could install the new equipment. Comcast agreed we could do that, but we’d have to continue to pay the $12.95 rental fee until we called and asked that the gateway be removed. A small price to pay for continuous internet access, but they had tried to steer me to an extreme annoyance that could have harmed the company’s operations as it requires near 24/7 internet access. (I also found out that my client has been paying a monthly rental for the Gateway; we had previously been told that we were getting the Gateway for free when we had inquired about changing our equipment; they previously said the charge for only for the telephony modem.)

    If my clients had a choice, I’d steer clear of Comcast. Maybe we’ll dump their phone service and still to internet only, especially my client with the dropped calls.

    • envoy510 May 31, 2015 at 7:57 pm

      Charlie, it’s hard to believe but it seems Comcast is getting even worse.

      Just curious, what region of the country are you in?

      • Charlie June 1, 2015 at 2:36 am

        I’m in Indiana. It gets worse re: Comcast. I went in today to activate the modem for Client 1. I went through their online activation form and it didn’t work. Called tech who couldn’t figure it out and we got disconnected. I set up old modem and it wouldn’t work either – again going through their online authentication and activation process. Called Comcast and was on phone for over an hour – they wanted to shuffle me off to a service call sometime on Monday and I said no – it had to be fixed tonight. I was able to connect to the Comcast server and download their installation software, so it seemed crazy I could not get online. They finally asked for the particulars of old modem and set it up as though it were a new device as they did not have a record of S/N and Mac address. The tech told me that the tech who wrote the ticket for the new modem never submitted it. He only wrote a note in the file. So when I went to activate it, it wasn’t listed on my account. I spent 3 hours chasing my tail. The tech did hang in there with me today. Even though I insisted on it I appreciated her effort and told her so. She set up a call from their Tier Two to set up the new modem on Wednesday (we’ll see what happens.) The next thing I’m going to do is have a drink.

  15. John Thomas August 10, 2015 at 10:46 am

    I have had similar problems. They are blocking by business class router by OID and won’t admit it. Fortunately there is a work around for that which they cannot block.

    You have to be kidding me that they are using RIP. That protocol is ancient and incredibly inefficient you would think they would be using OSPF or some other professional grade routing protocol.

    Their speed is great after you fight with them enough to get it working but their customer service is horrible!!!!!

  16. skot October 6, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    So I’ve got business class Comcast at a lower speed. Opted for it as we were saturating the usage on the residential monthly alotment. I was not aware we were being charged for a modem until recently and want to change to my own hardware. The current modem keeps crapping out and I have to restart it about every other day now. No static IP’s. No phone service. I also recall hearing that it’s their modem that does the speed throttling so wonder what will happen when it’s replaced? What would you recommend for a modem replacement now and wtih lease hassles? Doesn’t sound like it’s been smooth for anyone.

    • envoy510 October 7, 2015 at 2:14 am

      I recently got the SB6141 (again) because I now have dynamic IPs. It works like a charm. I called Comcast and they set me up within minutes.

      I miss the static IPs, but my domain is managed by namecheap.com and they have an excellent dynamic dns service, which is free if your domain is managed by them.

  17. ZedGama3 November 19, 2015 at 12:25 am

    The reason why Comcast will only setup static IPs on their own routers is because there are passwords that are setup in the routers that allow them to tell other routers near by what addresses they have access to. If someone with malicious intent had these passwords, they could cause traffic to be redirected to other locations which could possibly be used to take over some else’s IP, deny service to someone, or even take down a good part of Comcast’s network.

  18. Alex Rios February 14, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    First off, thank you all for the feedback as it has been helpful in us not purchasing a replacement modem yet since we too have business class service and 5 static IPs. Our modem has recently gone out and now we are at the mercy of the response time of the technician which they said will be here in 4 hours. What is unfortunate is that they have not been here within for hours. Our internet circuit is an important part of our business and having it down for more than 4 hours is costing us a lot, probably several hundred dollars per hour. I don’t understand why we can’t just buy our own backup hardware and have them update the firmware with the proper configurations so we can have on hand just in case this modem fails and the technician can’t get out within 4 hours. Even 4 hours is long time. For us it is not about the re-occurring cost to lease a modem as much as it is about when the modem fails and Comcast fails to get a technician to respond within a decent timeframe costing us much more. A failover circuit is the only option we have at this point. Also, we have several of these cable circuits at multiple locations so the is a good possibility one will fail and we will losing at the mercy of their response time.

  19. Steve March 11, 2016 at 12:21 am

    Wow, I am glad I looked at this! I was trying to help a client get their new Comcast internet functioning with their VoIP telephone system, Trying to get Comcast service to understand “put it in Bridge mode” was frustration level 10. I was thinking of installing our own modem as Comcast support said sure you can, go to this page and see our list of approved modems. This now sounds like a “trap”! In our area for businesses, Comcast now like to install the Cisco DPC3939 (or close relative) modem / router / Free xfinity/ WiFi/ wash the dishes/ take the dog out, “POS” all-in-one that does not play well with VoIP services. Sometime it is OK, sometime not so much, must be in their set up? I would like to have the SMC modem for Business class with static public IP’s! No added WiFi or frills and that one worked very well with VoIP and VPN use as any real business has their own firewall/router anyway. You can order it for install but when the tech (most times a sub) shows up the only this they have is this 3939.

    • Matias Larson December 15, 2016 at 6:20 pm

      The 3939 and it’s cousin the 3941 can actually be put into bridge mode from the customer-facing GUI, no Comcast tech required. Doing so disables the WiFi radios and all NAT/routing. You can’t use statics and true bridge at the same time (because it’s no longer a ‘router’ that can propagate a RIPv2 route) but that’s true of their SMC-D3G as well and it may have resolved some of the VoIP issues.

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