Comcast Rolls Out Speedier Wireless Gateway

Looking to match up speeds entering the home with the capacities supported by customers’ home networks, Comcast has introduced a souped up wireless gateway from Cisco Systems that bakes in 802.11ac WiFi and the 2.0 version of Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA), which utilizes the home’s coax network.

The product, which carries the consumer-facing brand of the “Xfinity Wireless Gateway,” is the Cisco-made DPC3941T. According to this blog post from Jill Formichella, Comcast Cable’s director, home network product development, the WiFi piece is outfitted with a 3x3 MIMO design that delivers three spatial streams and 1.3 Gbps of raw throughput via an 80MHz-wide wireless channel. She said third-party lab tests by Allion Engineering Services showed the gateway delivering 700 Mbps of actual throughput.

The 700 Mbps mark is more than two times faster than Comcast’s current router and seven times faster and provided better overall in-home coverage than similar devices from competitors, including Verizon Communications and AT&T, claimed Eric Schaefer, Comcast Cable’s SVP and GM, communications, data and mobility, in this separate post.

The new gateway integrates a DOCSIS 3.0 modem, though the channel bonding configuration was not immediately available. Top-of-the-line D3 modems can bond 24 downstream channels and 8 upstream channels, putting the downstream within shouting distance of 1 Gbps bursts. Broadcom is working on a D3 chipset that can bond 32 downstream channels.

Comcast also did not announce pricing and packaging options for the new product, but Schaefer wrote that will become available “later this fall in select markets,” and will eventually be introduced to Comcast’s entire footprint.

A spokesman said that new customers who qualify for a device will automatically receive one when they sign up for service, subject to availability. Customers who want to receive info on the new gateway and when it becomes available in their market are directed to send an email to:  

Comcast, which ended the second quarter with 21.27 million broadband subs, is introducing the gateway as it bumps its Blast Tier to 105 Mbps down (from 50 Mbps) and its Extreme Tier to 150 Mbps (from 105 Mbps) at no additional cost in markets in its Northeast and West regions. Comcast offers a fiber-based residential service in select markets that delivers 505 Mbps down and 100 Mbps upstream.

Last April, Comcast launched a Cisco-made 802.11n DOCSIS 3.0 gateway with a 16x4 channel-bonding configuration that also supports MoCA 2.0, a technology that delivers in-home wireline throughputs of 400 Mbps in basic mode and up to 800 Mbps in the enhanced, turbo mode.

Comcast is also using its new gateways to deliver a separate "Xfinity WiFi" SSIDs and community hotspots that are accessible to credentialed broadband subs. Comcast is on pace to deploy 8 million hotspots by the end of the year, a number that includes its residential hotspots and those deployed in outdoor and business locations.