Comcast’s gigabit gateway uses 8×8 MU-MIMO and has IoT support
Comcast is now offering its xFi gigabit-capable gateway nationally, setting the stage for broad availability of faster in-home Wi-Fi speeds as well as dedicated support for some internet of things protocols — even if Wi-Fi device support isn’t quite there to take advantage of the gateway’s full capabilities.
The xFi Advanced Gateway gateway achieves gigabit-speed support through the use of 802.11ac Wave 2 features 8×8, multi-user multiple-input-multiple-output and leverages 160 MHz channels (significantly wider than the typical 20 or 80 MHz channels used in Wi-Fi). It also supports IoT protocols including Bluetooth LE, Zigbee and Thread.
“While there are currently no mass-market Wi-Fi connected devices capable of receiving Gig speeds over Wi-Fi, those devices are coming,” Fraser Stirling, senior VP of hardware development in technology for Comcast, wrote in a blog post. He added that the new gateway is capable of speeds significantly faster than gigabit as networks evolve: “In our labs, we’ve actually tested Wi-Fi speeds faster than 1.5 Gbps, and the xFi Advanced Gateway is capable of going even faster, as Internet speeds increase and Wi-Fi devices become more powerful,” Stirling wrote.
The gateway is now available to Xfinity customers in speed tiers of 300 Mbps or higher, including the 26 markets where Comcast has launched gigabit network speeds as part of its DOCSIS 3.1 roll-out. The company has gigabit availability in markets including the San Francisco and San Jose metropolitan areas; the Washington, D.C. metro area; Chicago, Ill.; Atlanta, Ga.; and the Boston, Mass. area.
Stirling also noted that in addition to the new gigabit gateway, Comcast plans to start offering a “pod”-based Wi-Fi mesh option after this month. Wi-Fi mesh network offerings for the home, such as those by Luma and eero, have been on the upswing as consumers connect more devices and seek to eliminate coverage dead spots.
The new gateway has a taller, minimalist design with few lights that is reminiscent of a blocky version of the cylindrical shape of Amazon’s Echo or Google Home. Stirling added that the company focused on designing the gateway so that users wouldn’t feel compelled to stick it in an out-of-the-way corner, but could keep it in a central, open space in order to maximize its ability to support coverage in the home. Multi-Channel News reported that while Comcast designed the new gateway, it has asked Arris to build a version powered by an Intel Corp. D3.1 chip, and Technicolor to build one using Broadcom’s chipset.