Picture this—your parents just moved to a new location, ordered Internet service, and are having trouble setting it up. What do they do? They call you, of course, for help in configuring their fancy new broadband equipment. That is one of the things Comcast set out to change with its new xFi Advanced Gateway, a high-speed DOCSIS 3.1 modem and router built into a single, decorative device that doesn't look nerdy, and doesn't require one to configure it.
The most confusing part of the whole deal is not the equipment, but the terms. Let's clear that up. Xfinity xFi is a service Comcast offers that helps users configure and manage their wireless devices. This can be done through an app from the Apple App Store or Google Play, or on a web browser. The service launched in May and is a free amenity to all Xfinity Internet customers with an xFi Advanced Gateway or compatible xFi Wireless Gateway.
Comcast's xFi Advanced Gateway is the actual hardware, and it is now available nationwide. It costs $10 per month to rent. The device serves as both a modem and a wireless router, and in addition to a focus on ease-of-use, Comcast also zeroed in speed. In its labs, Comcast said its xFi Advanced Gateway achieved Wi-Fi speeds in excess of 1.5 Gbps. The company also claims that it is capable of even faster wireless speeds as Wi-Fi devices become more powerful.
"To deliver that performance, the xFi Advanced Gateway is packed with the most advanced Wi-Fi technology we’ve ever put into a device, including a 160 MHz-capable 8x8 antenna array, Mu-MiMo (Multi-user, Multi-input, Multi-output) technology, and a combination of specialized Internet of Things radios," Comcast explains.
The device is available for Comcast's fastest speed tiers, from 300 Mbps and up depending on the market. That includes its 1 Gbps service, which is now available in over two dozen markets, with more locations on the roadmap.
Comcast claims the wireless range from its xFi Advanced Gateway is enough to blanket most homes in ultra-fast Wi-Fi. However, the company is planning to roll out a mesh option later this month. This will be for larger homes where a single xFi Advanced Gateway is not enough to reach every corner.
"Going forward, the xFi Advanced Gateway is a device built for the future. As people connect more and more devices in their homes, and those devices increasingly use the cutting-edge technologies already built into the xFi Advanced Gateway, it will ensure that our customers are ready for whatever comes next," Comcast says.
The question is, how people need this? What Comcast is really doing is preparing for the future, which is coming fast. While not everyone needs ultra-fast Internet service, things like 4K streaming and online gaming are pushing the envelope. Just as importantly, they're at the cusp of becoming commonplace.