Comcast shares progress for national 10G coverage, sustainability efforts at SF Network Innovation Summit

The transition to 10G broadband networks will mean faster speeds and more reliable connections for both business and residential customers.

Comcast shares progress for national 10G coverage, sustainability efforts at SF Network Innovation Summit

Many are beginning to wonder what the transition to 10G networks will mean to both residential and business customers. A panel of speakers at the Network Innovation Summit held in San Francisco recently provided many of these answers to an interested audience.

Elad Nafshi is the chief network officer at Comcast. He delivered the keynote address for the summit. In it, he explained how 10G is a combination that includes super-fast upload/download speeds, improved reliability, advanced outage-detection and ultra-low latencies, which are all widely available.

Nafshi later was joined by San Francisco Standard Editor in Chief Julie Makinen, and Bay Area Council Executive director Jeff Bellisario at a panel and Q&A. The summit took place aboard The Historic Kalamuth - the early 20th century ferry, which has been restored and is now permanently moored - that now houses the Bay Area Council.

Nafshi has a wealth of statistics for those who are curious what improvements 10G might bring, whether it's in terms of speed or other factors. Nafshi stated that Comcast's new 10G network will offer download speeds up to 8.5 gigabits per second (Gbps) at launch. After further optimization, speeds of 9 Gbps are expected in the future. This is many times faster than the current 5G internet speed, which ranges between 100-300 megabits per seconds, though some plans offer speeds up to 1 Gbps.

Comcast will be able 'to do that across the whole footprint without digging up sidewalks or tearing up front lawns and without having to wait eight hours with a technician at home', Nafshi stated.

Comcast has created several solutions to support its 10G network. One of them is its Comcast Octave AI platform. According to Comcast, it's 'programmed' to detect modems that aren't using the bandwidth they have efficiently and adjust them automatically, resulting in substantial increases in speed. Nafshi stated that the Octave platform would play a major role in delivering promised speeds, even to homes with older coaxial connections.

As the Q&A portion of the summit revealed, technical details are not as important to those who want to know the exact date their service will be upgraded. Nafshi was unable to provide a breakdown by home of when customers would be upgraded to 10G. However, he did say that Comcast is currently upgrading service in over 12 million homes and intends to upgrade at least half its 60 million subscribers to 10G before 2025.

Comcast has made sustainability a priority and committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2035. Nafshi explained that the 10G upgrade was also done with this in mind. Nafshi stated that Comcast puts sustainability at the forefront of everything they do. This includes their technology choices.

Comcast claims to be making progress in this area. In March, the company reported that it has already reduced its electricity consumption to deliver each byte of data on its network by 36 percent since 2019.

Makinen, the moderator of the panel, brought up Comcast’s goal of doubling its network energy efficiency in 2030. This will reduce the amount of power per byte of data consumed by half, even though it triples its network capacity. Comcast estimates that the energy savings will be enough to power a half-million homes for an entire year.

Nafshi replied to a query about how a company such as Comcast could achieve net-zero emissions of carbon. We're also investing in renewables. The question is not only (reducing) consumption but also how to offset it with other inputs.

The panel discussed the potential economic impacts of 10G for urban areas such as the Bay Area before adjourning. Makinen stated that the panel discussed whether or not companies in the Bay Area would have a more distributed workforce. It sounds wonderful to move to an area of the U.S. that is cheaper and has a lower cost of living.

Bellisario responded that the benefits of collaboration in the office would continue to be a draw. He said that there was a desire for people to return to our urban areas, as if they were there by design. You get those agglomeration and innovation effects that can be very successful in our region.

Bellisario stated that he believes we will be moving towards a hybrid model in the future. Bellisario said, 'But the innovation you can't do face-toface is what's missing in this remote world.

Nafshi was in agreement. He said, 'I believe you cannot deliver continuous innovation without being in a room that has a whiteboard.' I think that remote work has done an incredible job keeping us moving during the pandemic. When we speak about disruption, transformation, and innovation, these skills, we just don't suffice.