Comcast has announced that its xFi Advanced Gateway Wi-Fi router is getting an upgrade — the new version will support the Wi-Fi 6E standard and have support for the Zigbee and Matter IoT standards built in. Comcast says that the addition of a third, 6GHz band alongside the 2.4 and 5GHz bands found on its old gateway (and most modern, decent routers) should make the router ready for homes with dozens of wireless devices, including ones that use lots of bandwidth like VR headsets and gaming consoles.
The selling point of the new (in terms of wireless standards, anyway) Wi-Fi 6E is that it can provide more bandwidth to power more devices, all with less potential for interference from other networks. Support for this standard should, according to Comcast, make its new xFi Advanced Gateway faster and more reliable than the older version that was available to its customers who subscribe to its higher-speed plans.
Comcast also says that its updated router will be able to handle faster internet speeds like the ones it offers with its Gigabit Pro plan (which can, somewhat confusingly, get up to 3 gigabits per second in some locations). While Wi-Fi 6E doesn’t have a higher max speed than Wi-Fi 6, older routers with slower processors can struggle to handle the data throughput of newer plans — Comcast says that shouldn’t happen with its new Advanced Gateway, as it can “deliver multigigabit upload and download speeds.”
Traditional wisdom says that renting equipment from your ISP is a bad deal — usually you’ll end up paying more after a year or two than you would’ve had you bought your own modem and router. But if you’re looking to get into Wi-Fi 6E right now, the router alone may cost you hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars, compared to the two or three hundred dollars required to get a great Wi-Fi 5 setup. With that kind of outlay required, the leasing model may be more attractive.
Comcast says that customers will start getting the new routers “over the coming months,” with people who pay for Gigabit internet or its xFi complete package getting it first. The company says the monthly cost to lease the new Advanced Gateway will continue to be $14 a month.
Disclosure: Comcast is an investor in Vox Media, The Verge’s parent company.