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The ugly comcast TELEPHONY modems

Does anyone know how to use phones without the Comcast specific modems>?

It almost seems like a scam the way that they rip you off to either rent the box for a monthly fee, or BUY an expensively specific ‘telephony modem’ that WILL LIKELY be deprecated and unsupported by the same time next year.

what gives?

No, you cannot use their phone service without their black box. You can run a PBX or an Asterisk box though and do it all yourself.