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Comcast: Pay for Your Own Backup Batteries Because We Don’t Include Them Anymore

Phillip Dampier March 25, 2013 Comcast/Xfinity, Consumer News 14 Comments
Comcast's eMTA backup battery. (Image: David Trebacz)

Comcast’s eMTA backup battery. (Image: David Trebacz)

Comcast digital phone customers will no longer receive battery backup and monitoring service free of charge, according to a notification mailed to customers with their bills:

“Effective February 26, 2013, a battery backup and battery monitoring will no longer be provided free of charge. For existing XFINITY Voice customers with backup batteries, Comcast will continue to monitor your current battery at no charge; however, replacement batteries and their monitoring will no longer be provided free of charge. Backup batteries (which include monitoring) will be available for purchase.  Please call 1-888-972-1261 for pricing and details. XFINITY Voice uses the electrical power in your home. If you do not have a battery backup, you will not be able to use this service, including the ability to make emergency 911 calls, during an electrical power outage.”

Comcast customers leasing eMTA modems (which supply the cable company’s phone service) report that before the change batteries were included in the box. But not anymore, even though the packaging and accompanying literature still show the battery is included.

The lithium-ion battery keeps Comcast’s phone service working during power outages, but like other rechargeable batteries, it does eventually wear out. Now customers pay to replace them, even though the modem itself is leased to the customer.

Scott, a Comcast customer in Michigan, told Comcast he was unhappy with what seems like a petty cutback:

“I’m really miffed that they would now suddenly require customers to purchase a battery for a leased device,” Scott said.

Currently there are 14 comments on this Article:

  1. James R Bivins says:

    Every company like Dish,where you go under 2 years contract and pay for leasing receivers and after 2 years and don’t sevices anymore.You have send back equipment,when years you own it.And all the fees they don’t tell you about until you have to pay full price after 1 year of service.There isn’t cheap services from any conpany with all the fees they come up with.Before it all over with it you will have to have contract and they will come up with more fees to make you pay more money than you have in your pocket.

  2. AP says:

    Bad move by Comcast considering most people are dumping land line service for cell phone service (unless the reception in their area is bad).

  3. FrankM says:

    The Achilles’ heal of the Comcast phone service is that it doesn’t work without power. To remedy that situation, Comcast had a battery back-up in their device that was in your home. Now they’re putting the customer on the hook for batter replacement to have uninterrupted service.

    Comcast should have done either:

    a) Switched to hardware that takes standard household batteries, like a smoke detector, or the remote for your Comcast cable box!

    b) Switched to hardware that has no battery back-up capabilities, but recommend a UPS be purchased.

    What has Comcast done with their current plan:

    1) Saved a few sheckles by passing costs on to customers.

    2) Possibly driven customers back to their copper-based competitors.

    • Bill D. says:

      Yes the battery last for 8 hours….The problem is the Comcast network usually goes down within an hour (it needs AC power as well) so having the battery gives you a nice warm feeling but does not really do much for you. My solution if we are expecting a power loss: Forward your home phone to your cell :-)

  4. The dude says:

    So, I thought E911 services required their equipment to stay up for at least 2 hours?

    • txpatriot says:

      @The Dude: you should verify with your state PUC / PSC.

      But I’m not aware of ANY rules, either state or federal, that requires a minimum amount of battery-back-up at a customer location for 911 purposes. As FrankM mentioned, back-up power is the Achilles of ANY system that is not directly fed by analog copper. So a VoIP system, even if provided over a copper loop or coax cable, is subject to failure and a customer looking to subscribe such a service should ask the provider how they plan to provide back-up in the event of a power outage.

      Don’t assume: check with your state PUC and check with the VoIP provider!

  5. KM says:

    Anyone know a source for third party batteries for these? Comcast’s $35 + shipping seems high, especially if you want 2 which the box allows.

    • Give me the model/type of the current battery in your system and I’ll do some research. Sometimes the low low price elsewhere is for lousy Chinese batteries that don’t hold a charge or worse, burst into flames, so I will see what I can find that is a credible alternative.

      • KM says:

        Philip

        The Comcast gateway is a Technicolor TC8305C. I don’t actually have a battery yet. Thats why I’m looking for a source. The best I have is from the FCC.GOV listing for the device which shows a

        Getac BP-B210N-21/2600 S (Li-Ion, 7.4V 2600mAh, 19.24Wh)

        there is a picture on pg 6 of

        https://apps.fcc.gov/eas/GetApplicationAttachment.html?id=1752437

        • I have been looking and running into “proprietary battery” blockades. I don’t believe the battery was created specifically for this device, but I do suspect the batteries that we are talking about are probably being mass-produced in China for largely the exclusive use of Technicolor.

          Getac won’t comment on the batteries at all, which means they are not produced for the retail market, period. Usually there is supply chain leakage, which means third parties will turn up with individual batteries for sale, but I have not encountered any as of yet.

          The $35 price may not be out of line totally if these are produced in limited runs. I’d bug them about charging you double shipping if you ordered two, however. I will keep looking around. If you find the battery backup useful and are still renting this device, there may be a suitable purchase option for a different device with similar features which could save you a ton of money in the long run. Let me know your current status (rent/lease or own equipment). I wouldn’t invest in a battery for a rental device. I would if I owned the equipment outright.

        • BillB says:

          Amazojn has the battery for $16.99.

      • Bill K says:

        Here is a screen grab of the battery from the FCC ID submission. I am also interested in an alternate source, $35 is a bit expensive. Thank you for any help to locate a source Phillip.

        -Bill

        • Hank says:

          Don’t know why my battery completely depleted my electric was off for about 30 min.
          & 1 day later my batt. light started flashing called Comcast got no satisfaction so I removed the battery for about 4 hrs. then re-installed it and it’s charging fine.

      • Bill K says:

        Sorry, here is the image link:

        http://postimg.org/image/fwpd7ttgz/

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