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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.

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James R Bivins
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James R Bivins

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.

AP
Guest
AP

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

FrankM
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FrankM

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… Read more »

Bill D.
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Bill D.

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 🙂

The dude
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The dude

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

txpatriot
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txpatriot

@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… Read more »

KM
Guest
KM

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.

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