Comcast Boosts xFi Speed With New WiFi6 Gateway

(Image credit: Comcast)

Comcast said it is rolling out a next-generation broadband gateway, which will give consumers faster speeds, more capacity, improve streaming performance with less latency. 

Comcast said it will also be providing xFi Advanced Security at no additional cost to protect the connected devices used by 18 million of its broadband customers.

The xFi Advanced Gateway is the first Comcast device to offer WiFi6, which WiFi6, which adds extends the signals’ range and will let households use more connected devices. Comcast points to a study by Strategy Analytics that forecasts that 100 million more smart home devices will be added to home networks by 2023.

They are capable of delivering multiple streaming services simultaneously over WiFi throughout the home.

The xFi Advanced Gateway will be available in the next few months first to customers who subscribe to Xfinity Internet tiers of 300 Mbps or faster.

“We’re trying to position ourselves as having the most advanced access technology in the home,” said Dave Puckett, VP, xFi & digital security product management at Comcast Cable.

“Whatever technology you bring into the home, we’re going to make sure you have the best possible access equipment in the home, and that’s what we’re doing with the xFi Advanced Gateway,” said Puckett.

The new Gateway enables more video streams and supports more gaming services. “I’ve got four children and they’re heavy streamers and gamers,” Puckett said. “We are a hyper-connected home with about 35 devices, so I’m looking forward to getting this in my house.”

The Advanced Gates has four simultaneous dual-band antennas that support 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, allowing data to move with ease; a 2.5bps Ethernet port for wired speeds greater than 1 gigabyte per second and, Bluetooth LE and Zigbee radios that can connect to Internet-of-Things devices.

They offer switchable mid-split support between 42 MHz and 85 MHz to allow greater upstream throughput. 

In addition to all the high tech built in, the new gateway is white, a color Puckett said will more easily blend into the decor in most homes. That will help consumers keep them out of closets and behind desks, enabling better performance.

“It’s really just to make it more aesthetically neutral in the home, so that consumers are more encouraged to bring it out in the open like the rest of their consumer electronics and not stuffed in a drawer, which is going to impact any router’s WiFi range and performance,” he said. 

The new gateway is backwards compatible with the XFi pods that extend the range of WiFi signals in the home.

Customers who lease an xFi gateway will get cybersecurity technology Comcast says is worth $72 annually. The additional service will be rolling out over the coming weeks and requires no software download or additional setup other than logging into xFi via the mobile app or online.

Security features include preventing inadvertent visits to malicious sites, blocking remote access to smart devices from unknown or dangerous sources, monitoring devices in real time and delivering alerts when devices behave in ways that could indicate a network threat and the ability of the home network to get smarter and keep up with new threats over time. Users will get a daily list of digital security actions that were taken each day.

Comcast launched its Advanced Security package in January 2019 as a $5.99 upgrade. It uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to monitor and analyze WiFi traffic to identify suspicious activity.

Comcast’s Puckett said the new security features will warn users if they are about to access phishing sites or sites infested with malware or spyware.

It will also monitor web-connected Internet-of-Things devices like doorbells and refrigerators that don’t have keyboards or monitors to ensure they aren’t sending information to unauthorized outfits. 

“That provides you with a  layer of protection that might otherwise go completely undetected,” Puckett said. Users will get notified about sites that were blocked and an explanation of the types of threats that were averted.

The security software also alerts users whenever a device tries to connect to the xFi home network.

Comcast has been advertising this feature in commercials that show a young man trying to sneak into his girlfriend’s home, only to have her father be alerted to his presence by the boyfriend’s phone attempting to connect to the family’s network.

“That’s actually inspired by true events,” Pucket said.

Comcast has been adding features to its broadband service to give it attributes beyond speed and price in order to attract new customers and keep current subscribers loyal. Those include digital dashboards and apps that let users manage their networks and see what devices are connected and provide parental controls including the ability to pause the WiFi connect to one child’s gadget or to the whole family during meals.

“We’ve really been building the differentiation of our services,” he said. “It’s about driving engagement and attachment to the service. Those are happier and more satisfied customers. From a business perspective it makes a lot of sense because they just stay with us longer.”

Comcast is also giving broadband customers Xfinity Flex to enhance their streaming experience by better organizing viewing choices and being able to navigate with a voice remote.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.