Comcast is, without question, one of the major players in the broadcasting space. While they already have a foothold in many people’s living rooms, they now want to expand to the rest of the home. At CES 2017, Comcast announced a new product that they are calling Gateway smart-home hubs. These hubs are designed to allow Comcast customers to control any internet-of-things (IoT) connected devices in their home, as well as make WiFi troubleshooting an easy experience that consumers can do on their own. The new hardware will come with a redesigned UI and new cloud-based software.
As an increasing number of consumers opt to buy their own routers, companies are losing out on the revenue that they used to accrue through router rental fees. The Gateway is designed to change that by being so easy to set up and offering so many useful features that consumers will opt to rent it from Comcast instead of purchasing a third-party router. Judging by what we know about this hardware so far, it looks like Comcast may be right.
Before we address the IoT connectivity, which is the really exciting stuff here, let’s look at how the Gateway acts as a router and what it can do to improve your home WiFi setup. Setting up the Gateway is designed to be incredibly easy: all users have to do is download an on-boarding app, plug in the Gateway and scan the QR code on the bottom of the device with their phone. The user will then be prompted to create a network ID and password before moving on to locate and connect to every wifi enabled device in your house. The app will also provide suggestions on how best to set up your router to receive maximum coverage in your home.
While the ease of use and wifi troubleshooting is useful, the most exciting features of the new Comcast Gateway look to be the IoT connection. Once the device has paired with all of the internet-connected devices in your home they can then be assigned to specific users or rooms.
Users can then use the app to track internet usage for each user profile and even each specific device. The app will also allow you to restrict access to certain devices at certain times. For example, a parent can disable wifi access to an Xbox or iPad until their kids have finished their homework. All of this is easily controlled from the Comcast app on your smartphone.
The Gateway will also integrate seamlessly with your Xfinity X1 systems, allowing you to control all of your devices from your television. For those Comcast subscribers who already have the previous version of the Gateway, fear not, you will be able to download the new features to your existing device. Comcast is expected to roll this feature out to about 10 million of their users during the first half of 2017. The service will be offered at no extra cost for existing customers.