Comcast’s “free” streaming box requires you to rent $13-per-month router

Comcast's Flex streaming box and voice remote are shown in front of a TV screen.

Enlarge / Comcast’s Flex streaming box and voice remote. (credit: Comcast)

Comcast last month announced that it was giving its Flex streaming device to Internet-only customers for free, but the announcement did not mention one important detail: the “free” device is only given to Comcast broadband customers who spend $ 13 a month to rent Comcast’s xFi Gateway modem/router.

The Verge yesterday published a story that details the problem. The Verge wrote:

After the free offer was announced last month, a Comcast spokesperson told me the rental requirement would be dropped “in the coming weeks” so that all Internet-only customers could get the device for free. But a month later, that requirement is still in place, and Comcast’s checkout interface has even been updated to emphasize that its streaming box, called Flex, is only included when you rent the company’s modem/router combo, the xFi Gateway. The Comcast spokesperson now says the ability to use your own router and avoid the fee is “coming imminently.”

Comcast told Ars the same thing today, that it is lifting the restriction very soon. A Comcast FAQ explains that the Flex box automatically connects to your Comcast Internet service once it’s plugged into a power outlet, as long as the Comcast wireless gateway is operating. Comcast told us that a software update coming soon will let the Flex connect to any Wi-Fi network.

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