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Comcast hypes 10G network. Is it twice as good as 5G? Actually, there’s no comparison

Ron Hurtibise | (TNS) South Florida Sun Sentinel

Just when you finally traded up to a 5G phone, Comcast’s newest marketing campaign promises to hook you up to its 10G Network.

TV commercials debuted during the Super Bowl, boasting, “The next generation 10G Network. Only from Xfinity. One giant leap for mankind!”

Sounds like Comcast is offering a service that’s twice as good as 5G, right?

That might be what the cable and internet giant wants you to think is happening. But don’t throw that 5G phone out just yet.

There’s literally no comparison between 5G and 10G.

Despite having the letter G in common, the two phrases refer to completely distinct technology, and some tech-oriented websites are criticizing companies that leave the wrong impression in consumers’ minds.

Let’s clarify what the two terms mean: 5G refers to the fifth generation of cellular technology, while 10G refers to the speed by which data can enter homes through cable and fiber connections.

5G is the latest iteration in an evolution of cellular connectivity that started with the very first analog cellphones.

5G enables greater speed and lower latency (the amount of time it takes for data to travel) while allowing more devices on a network to support new business models and a better user experience, according to a July 2022 story on the tech-focused website fiercewireless.com.

Over the past five to six years, 5G has been heralded as the holy grail of wireless internet service.

When fully implemented throughout neighborhoods and around the world, 5G will enable homeowners to disconnect from the cable system and rely solely on 5G service from existing cellular carriers such as Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T, proponents have touted.

Promised 5G applications include physician specialists conducting intricate surgeries by directing robot arms in real time, and super-immersive virtual reality applications that will let sports fans feel like they are sitting at the Super Bowl.

Yet those types of applications are several years away from becoming commonplace, experts say.

5G won’t take over 4G LTE as the most dominant form of connectivity for voice calls, text messages and everything else that uses cellular technology until at least 2028, according to a report from Counterpoint Research.

10G, as used by Comcast and other wired internet service providers, refers to an internet service delivery speed — 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) — not yet available to consumers.

Illustrated by a photo of apples and oranges, Fierce Wireless’ story states that “the two technologies have little to do with each other.” In fact, competitive marketing around the two is “counterproductive” because “it introduces irrelevant issues that do not contribute to consumers’ better understanding of either technology,” Fierce Wireless says.

In an opinion article posted Sunday, the consumer-oriented website The Street (thestreet.com), which covers a wide array of personal finance topics, including technology, insurance, investing, retail and crypto, needled Comcast for promoting a 10G Network when the company does not offer plans with 10 Gigabits-per-second speed.

“Comcast’s Xfinity has taken on the Xfinity 10G name, but it’s not delivering anything close to 10 Gigabits-per-second speed,” the story says.

Logging on to Comcast’s website Xfinity.com shows that in Margate, the fastest available service is “Gigabit Extra,” which is 1.2 Gigabits per second.

That’s fast enough for most users right now. Comcast’s 1 Gbps plan, the site says, supports downloading a full HD movie in a few minutes, updating a smartphone’s operating system in seconds, and joining video conferences with ultra-high definition video.

Only in “select markets” can customers buy plans with speeds of up to 6,000 Mbps (6 Gbps), Comcast’s site says.

On its website, Comcast says its 10G Network “delivers a powerful connection to our customers that will continue to get smarter, faster, more reliable, and secure.” It adds, “It is the network that our customers use today and the network that will power their connectivity experience in the future.”

All of Comcast’s internet plans, including the lowest-speed 50 Mbps Internet Essentials plan offered for free to qualifying poverty-level households, are on the Xfinity 10G Network, the site says.

Mindy Kramer, Comcast’s spokeswoman for its Florida market, shared a post from CableLabs, an innovation hub that develops technology shared by the global cable industry.

It predicts that “10G will provide a myriad of new immersive digital experiences and other emerging technologies that will revolutionize the way we live, work, learn and play.”

When 10G becomes available, CableLabs says, “internet data will travel 10 times faster than the 1 gigabit speeds we’re enabling today.”

When will that happen? “The industry is working closely together on a new generation of 10G-ready gateway platforms, silicon and other technologies that will support the rollout in the next few years,” CableLabs says.

Dan Friedman, Comcast’s senior vice president of corporate communications, declined in an interview to project when 10 Gigabit-per-second speeds will be available to consumers.

Conceding that Comcast’s website does not specifically promise 10 Gbps speeds, the article on The Street continues, “Comcast isn’t exactly intentionally misleading customers to think they’re getting 10-Gigabit speed, but it’s also not doing anything to make it clear that it’s not.”

Friedman countered that Comcast’s Xfinity website “is very clear about the speeds we’re offering.” Comcast developed the 10G Network brand name, he said, “to recognize what we’ve done and where we’re going in the future.”

The 10G Network name is meant to represent not just speed but the company’s full offering of services, including WiFi gateway advancements that boost signal coverage throughout homes, and, coming soon, a modem with a backup battery that will keep the internet on during power outages.

The Street’s article acknowledges that Comcast’s Xfinity internet service is “actually a pretty good, maybe even very good (customer service aside) product,” and notes that “for most people, Xfinity, Xfinity 10G or Xfinity Gigabit all deliver more than enough speed for gaming, streaming, downloading, video meetings, and whatever else people might be doing.”

Unnecessarily, the product’s new name does more harm than good to Comcast, the article states, suggesting, it “might as well call it Xfinity 20G Hologram Teleport because that’s not really more far-fetched than the Xfinity 10G name.”

©2023 South Florida Sun Sentinel. Visit at sun-sentinel.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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