Comcast moves forward with national rollout of mesh Wi-Fi system

The hexagon-shaped xFi Pods act as Wi-Fi extenders. (Comcast)

After investing a year ago in Plume, a maker of Wi-Fi extenders, Comcast on Tuesday announced the national availability of its mesh Wi-Fi system.

The hexagon-shaped xFi Pods are Wi-Fi extenders that Comcast is selling for $119 in three-packs and for $199 in packages of six. The devices plug directly into electrical outlets and are designed to work with Comcast’s new DOCSIS 3.1-enabled xFi Advanced Gateway and xFi Wi-Fi management tool. 

“Our gateway devices are incredibly powerful, but we know that some homes have a unique layout or are constructed of materials that can disrupt WiFi coverage in some rooms,” said Eric Schaefer, senior VP and general manager of broadband, automation and communications for Comcast Cable. “Wi-Fi is the oxygen for the digital home and our xFi Pods can blanket a home with great coverage and are simple to install and easy to use.”

The introduction of the extenders comes after Comcast introduced its xFi Wi-Fi management system last year.

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With the overall deceleration of broadband customer growth for all U.S. companies just beginning to take hold, and wireless companies prepping 5G alternatives for consumers, cable companies like Comcast see service enhancements such as Wi-Fi extension and management as a way to keep customers and grow share in a more saturated market.

“Our focus is to innovate,” Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson told investors during the cable operator’s first-quarter earnings call in April. “Just as we did with X1, we have really ramped up the ability years ago, focusing on mesh WiFi, great speeds, and then better control through the xFi app.

“And so I think when you do all these things, it adds up to just a really compelling value proposition where you can reasonably price and then compete with a superior broadband product,” Watson added. “Not all broadband networks are created equal. If you are providing a better solution in broadband, your pricing can reflect that. So we're getting share, we can price reasonably. We are comfortable with that approach.”