Is the internet taking over your life?
With the introduction Monday of Xfinity xFi, a newly “personalized WiFi experience” for Comcast Xfinity internet customers, obsessive web searching can be tamed and talking/listening speakers muffled. You can create a no-tech Tuesday. Or, if that seems too excessively Luddite, settle for just a tech-free lunch or dinner hour.
Polished and easy to use, the new xFi operating platform has been designed, “to bring future innovations to our customers, address common pain points, and vastly improve the way millions of people interact with their home WiFi Network,” said Eric Schaefer, Comcast Cable senior vice president of communications, data, and mobility. Plus, xFi will likely raise consumer-satisfaction grades.
Exclusive to internet customers who also rent their modem/router from Comcast, xFi is available instantly for download to the 10 million customers who currently have the company’s most popular model, now being renamed the xFi Wireless Gateway. (To update, visit www.xfinity.com/myxfi or download the xFi app for IOS and Android.)
The new platform will also be baked into the next-generation xFi Advanced Wireless Gateway now being beta tested and available here later this year, initially, for customers using the fastest tiers of service.
For starters, xFi simplifies the setup of Xfinity internet service and your home WiFi wireless network. That will soon include tiny “mesh network” pods offered later this year, in a new relationship with product developer Plume, addressing the "reach" problems of WiFi in some homes.
Once up and running, the xFi system lets customers take control of all the wirelessly connected devices in the house, working with an app on a smartphone or computer. Fine-tuning of features will also be possible via an X1-connected TV, or by voice with the X1 remote.
The system invites users to name all the connected devices and organize them by type, location, or primary user. Then it lets you decide how the gadgeteers can or can’t use the devices, by setting parental controls, which monitor and block where family members visit online, and by creating a bedtime cutoff schedule that guarantees nobody’s surfing the web under the covers.
The proactive xFi system even sends an alert when a new device signs onto the network and shows who’s been most active on the home network and when. Excessive use by online gamers will be hard to hide.
To avoid the pain of service interruptions and customer support calls, troubleshooting is also just a click away on the new platform. The xFi software is smart enough to spot malfunctioning devices and offer solutions.
Product outages of connected tech are already a concern and will only get worse in the near future, as the internet-of-things craze keeps growing. By 2020, it’s estimated, Americans will have an average of 50 WiFi-connected devices in their homes, from dedicated web TV and audio receivers and surveillance cameras to smart appliances, lights, locks, and garage door openers.
The next generation xFi Advance Wireless Gateway will likely roll out much faster than the X1 cable TV boxes. Comcast expects the community of xFi-platformed, internet-serviced homes to increase to about 15 million by the end of 2017. The advanced gateway also supports Comcast’s Xfinity Voice, home security, and automation products. It can process data at multi-gig speeds and can reach 1 Gbps over WiFi. And with single-channel streaming delivery, the gateway can also function as a replacement for today’s X1 “set-top” media center, beaming shows wirelessly to new-generation tuners small enough to hide behind wall-mounted flat-screen TVs.