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Comcast is trying to get in on the mesh router hype

Comcast is trying to get in on the mesh router hype

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Image: Comcast

Comcast is expanding its hardware lineup with mesh Wi-Fi pods and a new router. The company announced the new products today, along with the official launch of its xFi platform — a digital dashboard for managing home Wi-Fi.

Later this year, Comcast will put out mesh-creating “Wi-Fi pods” that were designed in collaboration with Plume. These pods will plug into customers’ home power sockets and auto-configure to the network, similar to how Plume’s own product works. Comcast didn’t clarify whether these pods would be leased or purchasable; in most cases, Comcast leases its hardware to customers, requiring them to pay another monthly fee.

The company is also putting out a new router called the xFi Advanced Wireless Gateway, which is designed to provide gigabit speeds. It’ll cost $10 per month to lease. The xFi app will work with either this new router or the prior xFi Wireless Gateway that Comcast says is already used in 10 million homes.

Image: Comcast

In addition to its hardware plans, Comcast officially launched its xFi app, which it announced earlier this year. Any Comcast customer could have downloaded the app in the past few weeks, but Comcast is starting its major public PR push today.

xFi allows Comcast customers to set up their Wi-Fi, manage devices, set parental controls, and pause Wi-Fi access. All the settings can be changed through Comcast’s corresponding iOS / Android app, website, or any TV controlled by the X1 voice remote. The focus of these apps is the onboarding process, Comcast says. It should be seamless, with users only having to scan the QR code on their router to get started.

Ideally, Comcast says it’ll work with other technology companies so that their products directly integrate with xFi and can be set up and controlled by the app. For instance, the company says users might eventually be able to view their Comcast home security camera feeds from xFi. In the future, other devices might be easily accessible, too, although it didn’t list any partners.

Both the mesh pods and app announcement clearly show that Comcast is taking a cue from technology companies banking on the mesh router trend. Perhaps most obviously, Comcast particularly seems to be going after potential Google Wifi customers. The UI of Comcast’s xFi app even slightly resembles Google’s own Wifi app. And Comcast takes Google’s idea of internet pausing and parental controls. By integrating these features into its own routers, Comcast can keep customers paying to lease its own hardware instead of buying them through a third party.