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Wi-Fi 6E Becomes Affordable Option with Comcast's Deployment of 'Supersonic' Gateways

Comcast Wi-Fi 6E gateway
Comcast WiFi 6E gateway (Image credit: Comcast)

Wi-Fi 6E dramatically improves the way routers and gateways handle multiple devices at once, but the initial product releases have been pricey, coming in at around $1,500. 

Prices have come down — you can get this Linksys Hydra Pro 6E off Amazon for $299 right now — but the biggest advancement in WiFi tech to come along in years still isn't cheap. 

For its part, Comcast has provided the most affordable option yet — that is, if you can stomach monthly leasing of "customer premises equipment" from cable companies — with the top U.S. MSO now rolling out its new "Supersonic Gateway," on a $14-a-month lease, to customers with its fastest internet speed tiers (those with Xfinity Internet Gigabit and Ultrafast plans).

Comcast introduced its DOCSIS 3.1-enabled xFi Advanced Gateway at CES earlier this year. Comcast claims the devices provide increase bandwidth in the home by three times, using the sixth iteration of the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard which was introduced in 2019, with certifications by the Wi-Fi Alliance beginning in early 2021. 

Wi-Fi 6 has been around for several years, but the “E” — which stands for “extended” — is the new part, with the tech adding a third 6 GHz band to existing 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. The additional 1,200 MHz of midband unlicensed spectrum is super helpful in places like apartments and condos, where users’ with more limited Wi-Fi frequency means often bump into each other. 

But the other major improvement is how the Wi-Fi is distributed to devices. 

Wi-Fi 6 devices tap into OFDMA (orthagonal frequency division multiple access), a modulation scheme similar to what is used in DOCSIS and LTE that helps routers and gateways increase the efficiency of how channels are split.

It all adds up to far more efficient usage of the high-speed internet connection — it’s one thing to have a gigabit-level speed come into your home, but you still have to get those ones and zeros to your Roku or Xbox. ■

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!