Comcast today is rolling out its first ever completely fully homegrown WiFi device, the xFi Advanced Gateway, capable of achieving gigabit speeds and up.
The device, first unveiled earlier this year, costs the same as any other Comcast router, $10 per month, but the company says its the most powerful and sleekest WiFi device yet. The company says it is building the gateway with the future in mind, as more and more people are connecting a litany of devices to their networks at home and the office.
“We all live and die by WiFi, and as we are moving into a world where people have got five, 10 and then 20, then 40 or more connected devices, we have to have great connectivity, great coverage, great control,” Comcast’s Chief Product Officer Chris Satchell told GeekWire in an interview. “So that connection in the home has to be as good as that connection to the home.”
As hinted in the name, the gateway comes with xFi, a service that lets customers see more details about their networks, who is online and pause internet access for occasions like family dinners.
The Advanced Gateway is available in all markets where it has gigabit speeds, and that includes Seattle. Comcast says it has actually tested the gateway at 1.5 gigabit speeds, and it is designed to be able to scale up as internet speeds continue to increase.
“It serves your purposes today, and it is going to be the gateway that can serve your purposes as you go forward and expand as a family,” Satchell said.
In the past, Satchell said, Comcast was an “integrator of technology and an aggregator of content.” He sees the company evolving into a hardcore technology company and “transitioning into a hardcore product company.”
In addition to this new device, Comcast is working on a xFi pod mesh system that ensures strong coverage anywhere, whether it is a weirdly shaped home or a big building. Comcast is testing that out internally right now and will soon begin testing it with customers.
The look of the device is a big selling point, Satchell says. Coming from a background working at Nike as chief technology, and spending time on Xbox at Microsoft, Satchell says he takes design seriously.
Typically, WiFi routers are not the prettiest devices in the house and are hidden from view. Satchell says the minimalist design and fabric exterior make the gateway a device that doesn’t have to be tucked behind the TV and can be displayed proudly.
And while most people would associate Comcast with endless customer support calls and huge windows they have to set aside for a tech to come fix something, Satchell insists the company is emphasizing customer service and technological innovation.
Customer satisfaction is a big reason why Comcast to build the device completely from the ground up on its own. In the past, the company worked with partners on the design and other aspects. But Comcast decided to go solo to ensure control of every part of the process, including quick fixes for bugs that could take months to rectify when working with partners.
“The only way to do that was to take it on ourselves and really push the boundaries of what can be done,” Satchell said of taking full control of the device. “We can’t leave that future up to anybody else because it’s too important to serve our customers with what really is the oxygen of the home in WiFi.