Comcast Touts WiFi Speed Report

Allion: MSO’s New Gateways Outpace Gear From Verizon, AT&T
Allion WiFi test -released march 2015  400x300.jpg

Citing a new independent lab study (PDF) by Allion USA, Comcast claimed its Xfinity Wireless Gateway equipped with 802.11ac WiFi pumped out more than 700 Mbps in the downlink, outpacing the most current residential gateway devices from telco rivals AT&T and Verizon Communications.

The report focused on Comcast and Verizon gateways equipped with 3x3 antennas supporting 2.4 GHz and 5GHz bands, and compared how they matched up with AT&T’s older 1x1 single-band, 1x1 device.  According to the study, tests were conducted on two Cisco-made models for Comcast (the DPC3941T 3x3/802.11ac, and the DPC3939 3x3/802.11n, as well as the Verizon FiOS 3x3/802.11ac G1100 model, and the AT&T/2Wire 1x1 with 802.11b/g (Pace acquired 2Wire in 2010).  A 2013 MacBook Pro with 802.11ac with a Broadcom BCM4360 was used to collect measurements. Allion said it used a two-story, ~3,000 square foot home in the Pacific Northwest to conduct the study.

Allion said the Comcast/Cisco DPC3941T achieved over 700 Mbps downlink throughput, versus 610.4 Mbps for Verizon’s device, and 25.6 Mbps for AT&T’s. The firm also found that Comcast’s newest device outperformed the MSO's previous generation by more than 2.3 times (see chart above).

That same Comcast/Cisco model also had a WiFi range advantage when compared to the other models tested, Allion said. While Verizon’s gateway exhibited a similar performance in the 2.4GHz  band versus the Comcast gateway, showing throughput of about 170 Mbps, its range was “slightly shorter than the Comcast devices," the firm said.

Verizon has been asked to comment on the report's findings. Verizon launched the FiOS Quantum Gateway, a device equipped with dual-band 802.11ac WiFi and the 2.0 version of Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) technology, in November 2014. Comcast introduced the DPC3941T Xfinity Wireless Gateway, also equipped with 802.11ac and MoCA 2.0 plus a DOCSIS 3.0 modem, in  September 2014.

In-home WiFi performance has become an increasing important element as consumers rely on the technology to stream video to mobile devices, smart TVs, gaming consoles, Roku boxes and connected TVs. ISPs, meanwhile, continue to develop and deploy their own souped-up wireless gateways. Performance of those devices have already become a point of contention between some providers – Cablevision Systems, which just rolled out a WiFi-only phone service called Freewheel, is suing Verizon over claims made in the telco's recent WiFi ads.

WiFi has also become a big focus for Comcast, which has deployed millions of wireless home gateways and via hundreds of thousands of hotspots in business locations and public areas that are accessible by its broadband customers (Comcast also has WiFi roaming agreements with Liberty Global, Cox Communications, Cablevision, Bright House Networks, and Time Warner Cable) .  Comcast,estimates that 60% of Xfinity WiFi usage travels over neighborhood hotspots.   

Comcast has rolled out about 11 million wireless gateways so far, Neil Smit, president and CEO of Comcast Cable, said at the Citi Global internet, Media & Telecommunications Conference on January 6, according to this transcript.

While Comcast has been using those hotspots as a perk for its broadband customers, the MSO has also dropped hints that it might also use them in support of a so-called “WiFi-first” offering that would use cellular as a fallback when WiFi connectivity isn’t available.