Most home networks fall under one of three categories:

  • ISP-supplied gateway (modem and wireless router combo) with optional wireless extenders
  • Discrete modem and a standalone wireless gateway / router (coupled with optional network extenders, or, a Wi-Fi system)
  • Discrete modem, discrete wired router, and switches / access points

All three choices have their pros and cons, with the first option being preferred by consumers who are not tech-savvy to begin with. In that case, the customer usually pays a monthly rental fee to the ISP. The maintenance of the gateway (including firmware updates) is handled by the ISP too.

Vendors such as Arris and Netgear have tried to play in this market segment with modem-router combo products in retail for direct purchase by the consumers. Such products have typically presented some usage challenges:

  • Unsatisfactory activation process for the modem-router combo device (unlike the case of the ISP-supplied modem)
  • ISP-handled firmware updates, preventing patching of router firmware for vulnerabilities / preventing users from taking advantage of new Wi-Fi router features developed by the vendor for their wireless routers product-line.

Today, Netgear is launching the Orbi cable modem - a dual PCB solution with the same form-factor as that of the existing Orbi RBK40 kit. The dual PCB solution refers to the cable modem and the wireless routers coming on distinct boards, with separate firmware for each. ISPs can handle the firmware update for the modem segment, while the consumers can update the wireless router firmware independently. The activation process has also been simplified by Netgear, with new features in the Orbi mobile app making it a seamless process.

Netgear has been very active in releasing new firmware features for their Orbi products (tying in with their pivot to a services-based revenue model for their offerings). Features such as 'Circle with Disney' (which has a premium subscription option) are turning out to be hits based on the feedback we have received from current Orbi customers. The ability to update the Orbi router firmware independent of the cable modem firmware is a key feature of the Cable Orbi.

Addressing the two main concerns with combo devices allows Netgear to promote the advantages of an Orbi with an integrated modem:

  • The modem / router device can act as the master in a mesh Wi-Fi system.
  • Combining the modem and router into one device implies fewer devices to purchase for the consumer.
  • Existing Orbi satellites can be repurposed for usage with the Orbi Cable master unit

Netgear has two SKUs with the Cable Orbi hardware - the Cable Orbi Router (CBR40), priced at $300, is a single device that integrates the modem and wireless router into one unit. The Cable Orbi Kit (CBK40) bundles a satellite with the Cable Orbi Router for $400.

Coming to the technical specifications, the CBR40's wireless components are derived from the AC2200 Orbi RBK40 introduced last year - a Qualcomm Atheros IPQ4019 network processor with Wi-Fi SON features, and separate 2x2 radios for the client devices and the backhaul. The cable modem PCB is based on the Intel Puma chipset (we have reached out to Netgear to confirm that it is not the one affected by the network latency issue. [Update: Netgear informed us that the CBR40 has all the patches they received from Intel to address the Puma 6 issues.]). It is a DOCSIS 3.0-compliant modem with a 32x8 channel bonding configuration supporting a maximum of 1.4 Gbps downstream and 262 Mbps upstream bandwidth.

Netgear is obviously building on the success of the Orbi lineup with the integration of a cable modem into the lineup. This definitely increases the addressable market for Orbi products within the home networking space. Consumers using ISP-supplied gateways to blanket large areas with Wi-Fi would do little wrong in opting for the CBR40 or CBK40. Power users and tech-savvy consumers might prefer a more flexible solution with a discrete modem, router, switches, and access points. The Cable Orbi is not meant for those folks. For the average consumer, the Orbi lineup now has SKUs that can cater to varying requirements and budgets.

Source: Netgear

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  • Wolfclaw - Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - link

    Expect to see this rebranded by Virgin Media and then borked out of existance !
  • milkywayer - Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - link

    $400 is still a bit too much. I picked a $40 tp link 343mbps cable modem last week. You can pair that with a $60-800ish AC modem. Works as good for 1/4 the price.
  • Sttm - Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - link

    LOL no it wont.

    Doesn't support gigabit speeds on the cable (though not sure how much this one does without docsis 3.1...), doesn't have a second access point, doesn't have dedicated back channel...

    More like you are spending $130 for the modem, $100 for the router, and another $80 for a good extender, and even then the wifi won't be as good as the mesh with its dedicated back channel.
  • Samus - Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - link

    You'd be crazy to get a cable modem with a Puma chipset. The problems are silicon level and Intel's firmware hacks aren't going to fix the root throughput issues, but they have negated much of the problem for CASUAL users. Good luck torrenting on a Puma 6 long term without abysmal performance or it outright crashing every few days.

    If you need a cheap modem and don't need gigabit cable speed, get the SB6183. They're around $60, much less refurbished (but then you gamble with activation issues.)

    If you need a top notch modem, the Arris SB8200 or the Netgear CM1000 are both DOCSIS 3.1, and a theoretical 10Gbps (realistic is 6Gbps) so you'd be futureproof for the next decade on any BCM3390 chipset modem. They're both about $100.

    Modems to avoid, all containing flawed Intel chipsets:

    TM1602A TG1642 TG1662A TG1672A TG2472G TG2492 (Virgin Media Hub 3)
    TM1602G TG1662G TG1672G

    DG1642 DG1660A DG1662G DG1670A DG2460A DG2470A

    FRITZ!Box 6460 FRITZ!Box 6490

    XG1-V3 DPC 3848 DPC 3848V DPC 3939
    DPC3941B / DPC3941TÂ (commonly - Comcast Xfinity XB3)

    CH7465-LG (Arris TG2492LG / Virgin Media Hub 3) CH7466

    CDA Series: CDA-32372 CDA-3-35
    CDE Series: CDE-32372
    CGNM Series: CGNM-2250 CGNM-3552
    CGNDM Series:
    CGNV Series: CGNV4

    CM3016 CM3024 CG7500

    CG4500 CG4500TM C6300 C6300BD (Telstra Gateway Max - Australia) CM700

  • crimson117 - Thursday, August 30, 2018 - link

    Your recommendations are more like $150+, not $100. (Small difference, but still.)
  • rtho782 - Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - link

    No way VM would move to a 32x8 DOCSIS 3.0 system now, it's a sidegrade from the Superhub3.0.

    Next VM modem will be DOCSIS 3.1
  • mooninite - Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - link

    Anything Puma is trash. Also, DOCSIS 3.0 when Spectrum and others are already active with 3.1 markets? This product is DOA.
  • ikjadoon - Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - link

    Exactly. Aanadtech, you missed that Puma has such horribly bad TCP performance that wrote a test for users to confirm/deny if they had a Puma chipset in their cable modem:

    ARRIS was literally sued last year because of this steaming pile of junk: it's that bad.
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - link

    You should read the article first before commenting.

    The cable modem PCB is based on the Intel Puma chipset (we have reached out to Netgear to confirm that it is not the one affected by the network latency issue).
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - link

    Netgear has pure cable modems that target the DOCSIS 3.1 market. The modem-wireless router combos are never on the bleeding edge. This product is not for the power users who opt for the highest tier of DOCSIS 3.1.

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