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Comcast updates wireless gateway; 305 launches in Northeast

Tue, 09/18/2012 - 3:39pm
Mike Robuck

Xfinity Wireless GatewayComcast has updated its Xfinity Wireless Gateway, which made its debut last year and was known internally as “Dory,” and launched its Extreme 305 data tier across most of the major markets in its Northeast Division.

Arris and SMC Networks made the previous versions of the Xfinity Wireless Gateway, but Technicolor has been added into the mix with today’s announcement. The gateway that Technicolor built for Comcast is available to Comcast customers who subscribe to its Performance, Blast, Extreme 50 and Extreme 105 data tiers and is leased to customers for $7 a month.

The Technicolor gateway came out on top in research conducted by Allion Test Labs for providing the fastest in-home Wi-Fi network. The Xfinity Wireless Gateway by Technicolor bested gateways used by Verizon and AT&T in both speed and range by providing approximately 155 Mbps of wireless bandwidth.

“This study shows that deltas in peak performance and potential coverage between gateways can be directly attributed to a combination of technology and hardware selection,” Allion wrote in its study. “As a result, the gateway evaluated from Comcast that combines both the advanced Wi-Fi technology of 802.11n and the latest hardware incorporating multiple antennae (3 x 3 MIMO) will not only perform better than the gateway evaluated from AT&T, which uses only legacy Wi-Fi technology, but will also perform better than the similarly spec’d 802.11n Verizon gateways that use only a 2 x 2 MIMO configuration.

“As discussed in more detail below, the testing evidenced that the Comcast gateway offered approximately 155 Mbps of throughput, as compared to approximately 84 Mbps of throughput for the two Verizon gateways tested, and approximately 22 Mbps for the AT&T device. Both the Comcast and Verizon devices evidenced significantly better connection ranges than AT&T’s standard wireless gateway. As customers subscribe to higher-speed services (e.g., 100 Mbps or higher) and utilize more wireless devices in the home, there will be an increased need for more advanced wireless gateway technology.”

The Xfinity Wireless Gateway’s features include a two-line embedded media terminal adapter (EMTA) with an integrated router, a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem and a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi access point that can connect 802.11b, g and n clients simultaneously. The gateway also has four Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 ports and was designed to meet PacketCable 1.5 and 2.0 specifications, as well as DOCSIS 3.0 specs.

Comcast subscribers can set up the gateway via the company’s Home Network Wizard. It also features a WPS button on the gateway that lets users connect any WPS computer or device by pushing the button.

Currently, some cable operators are content to use gateways that enable home networking to other devices, including set-top boxes in the home, but as new DOCSIS 3.0 silicon improves speeds, video over DOCSIS and IP will come into play down the road. The end result could be a hybrid device that handles, data, video and phone services.

Comcast announced its Extreme 305 tier, which features speeds of up to 305 Mbps on the downstream and 65 Mbps up, in July and said then it would become available in its Northeast Division “very soon.” Today, Comcast said Extreme 305 was available in most of the major markets in its Northeast Division, which included Boston; Hartford, Conn.; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Harrisburg, Penn.; Wilmington, Vt.; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Richmond, Va.; and New Jersey.

Comcast’s Extreme 305 tier uses an 802.11ac wireless router from Netgear, which is paired with a cable modem for an additional $20 per month.

Prior to Comcast’s Extreme 305 tier, Verizon held the bragging rights for the fastest data service in North America with its 300/65 tier that was announced in June.

“Extreme 305 reaffirms our commitment to being the fastest Internet service provider in the nation,” said Cathy Avgiris, executive vice president and general manager of data and communications services at Comcast. “With our latest Xfinity Wireless Gateway, we’re also delivering the fastest in-home Wi-Fi experience to power our customers’ growing number of connected devices.”

As a standalone service, Verizon’s FiOS Quantum 300/65 costs $209.99 per month and $204.99 per month with a two-year contract. By contrast, Comcast was charging $299.95 a month – both standalone and as part of a bundle – when it first announced Extreme 305.

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