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Cable Tech

Comcast starts to put Wi-Fi 6E to work

Comcast said it has begun to roll out a new DOCSIS 3.1 equipped with Wi-Fi 6E, a new form of the standard that adds support for the 6GHz band alongside the legacy 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.

The new "Supersonic WiFi" device, as Comcast calls it, is initially available to customers on the cable operator's two fastest residential tiers offered on hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) network: a service that tops out at 1.2 Gbit/s down by 35 Mbit/s upstream and an "Ultrafast" tier that delivers up to 900 Mbit/s downstream and 20 Mbit/s upstream.

Comcast is offering its new Wi-Fi 6E-equipped gateway to customers on its two fastest residential broadband tiers delivered on its DOCSIS 3.1 network.  
(Source: Comcast)
Comcast is offering its new Wi-Fi 6E-equipped gateway to customers on its two fastest residential broadband tiers delivered on its DOCSIS 3.1 network.
(Source: Comcast)

Comcast noted that the new gateway, which is also equipped with Zigbee for IoT applications, is capable of supporting symmetrical 1-Gig speeds, but the company did not announce when it might launch such a service on HFC ("Gigabit Pro," Comcast's fiber-to-the-premises residential offering, pumps out symmetrical speeds of 3 Gbit/s). Meanwhile, the company has been upgrading the amount of spectrum it can dedicate to the upstream path on the DOCSIS 3.1 network and has made progress with DOCSIS 4.0 in trials that have pumped out symmetrical speeds of about 4 Gbit/s.

The rollout arrives about four months after Comcast introduced its new xFi Advanced Gateway, a product that's also known internally as the XB8. FCC documentation indicates that Technicolor is a lead source for the new Wi-Fi 6E gateway, which is a follow-on to the XB7, Comcast's first D3.1 gateway to support Wi-Fi 6.

Comcast confirmed that it is also offering the new gateway to customers who subscribe to xFi Complete, a package that sells for an additional $25 per month, bundling in the operator's unlimited data plan (regularly $30 more per month on a standalone basis) and, if needed, one xFi Pod Wi-Fi extender. Comcast also leases the new gateway for an additional $14 per month.

Supporting faster home broadband services is just one of the use cases that broadband service providers envision for Wi-Fi 6E. They're also expected to take advantage of the 6GHz band and the fast lane it offers to offload video to a new class of Wi-Fi-enabled set-top boxes or to use Wi-Fi 6E to support app-specific services such as online gaming and telemedicine.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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