Comcast Offers Wi-Fi Gateways To Subs On Fastest Tiers

Comcast is serving up a holiday treat it hopes will drive customers to upgrade to higher-speed broadband tiers: a wireless voice-and-data gateway for no additional charge.

The Xfinity Wireless Gateway, available from Comcast nationwide, includes a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem, voice adapter and an 802.11n wireless router. The gateways are manufactured by Arris and SMC Networks.

Comcast is deploying the devices automatically for all new customers who take Extreme 50 (up to 50 Megabits per second downstream and 10 up) and Extreme 105 (105 down and 10 up) services.

In the near term, new customers of the Blast tier -- 20 Mbps down and 2 up -- "may get the gateway automatically in some markets or they may have to request one when they sign up," Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas said in an email. Existing customers of the Blast tier or higher are eligible to receive the gateway for no extra charge by contacting the MSO.

All Comcast Xfinity Internet customers are subject to a $7 per month cable-modem lease fee, unless they buy their own compatible cable-modem equipment.

According to Comcast, by 2015 there could be as many as 234 million connected devices across its footprint, or six per household. The MSO based its estimates on research from Forrester and Yankee Group.

"With this proliferation of wireless devices, including tablets, laptops, smartphones and gaming consoles, there's a good chance your home is going to be filled with more of them by the time the holiday season comes and goes -- either brought in from out-of-town guests who want to stay connected while traveling, or given to a family member as a gift," Rob Slinkard, Comcast vice president of product management for Xfinity Internet and Voice Services, wrote in a blog post Monday.

Slinkard also took the opportunity to tout Comcast's Xfinity Signature Support service, to help customers connect devices. The service, available in plans ranging from $4.95 to $19.95 per month, provides troubleshooting and support for computers, home networks and other devices with support online, over the phone or in a customer's home.