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Comcast says it's starting to roll out its first Wi-Fi 6E router

Comcast says it's starting to roll out its first Wi-Fi 6E router

Comcast announced Tuesday that it is starting to ship the XFi Advanced Gateway, a Wi-Fi 6e router, which the company announced at CES 2022, to subscribers to Xfinity Internet Gigabit and Ultrafast plans. Up to this point, many routers that support the newer, higher-bandwidth Wi-Fi standard have been too expensive for most budgets (think $500 to $1,500, though there are some in the $300 price range now)—but Comcast can be at $14. per month, the company's standard fee for equipment rental.

The XFi Advanced Gateway has some smart home tricks, too. It includes built-in support for Zigbee, and Comcast has also said it will support Mater, a smart home standard coming later this year.

Comcast's biggest pitch for the XFi Advanced Gateway is that it can handle traffic faster than gigabit (the company brands it as "supersonic" Wi-Fi, a slightly silly name). Part of this is thanks to support for Wi-Fi 6E, which uses a third 6GHz band in addition to the traditional 2.4 and 5GHz bands. And while Wi-Fi 6 is no slouch, Comcast says its new gateway is more powerful, which lets it process all the traffic in a reasonable amount of time.

Whether this router will provide any noticeable benefit or not depends on your internet speed. If you're on Comcast's 200 Mbps plan and never transfer files to and from your indoor device over Wi-Fi, it probably won't do much for you. However, those with slower plans won't be able to get the new upgraded gateway anyway; It's available through Comcast's xFi Gateway Rental Program, which lets you add $14 a month to your Internet bill to get a router.

With that rental plan, however, there are two other models Comcast can send you, depending on how fast your Internet plan is. Those models don't have the smart home features of Wi-Fi 6e or newer routers, and you'll still pay $14 a month, so watch out — if you're not on one of Comcast's fastest plans, it's probably worth it. A better deal is to just buy your router.

Now there are also some affordable options for those who want Wi-Fi 6e but don't want their ISP router. The Eero Pro 6E is priced at $300 and is set to cover 2,000 square feet of living space. While that's a lot of cash for a router, it's less than what Comcast would pay for two years after renting it (though, apparently, there's a lot of up-front cost).

For those who subscribe to Comcast's $25 per month XFi full service (which includes routers, unlimited data, and a few other features), Comcast also has a recently announced Technology Upgrade Program. This will let you get a new router every three years, so if you've had your current gateway for a while and want to get your hands on a new one, it might be worth reaching out to Comcast's support to ask. That's whether you're eligible to get the new one.

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