Hey guys…. Time for a little more Tech Talk w/TK!!!
Alright, so on Friday I reviewed my fiber-optic internet experience with Verizon FIOS. Now, let’s chat about its cable counterpart, Xfinity xFi internet service. As I mentioned in my FIOS review, I was, and still am, a loyal Xfinity fan. In fact, if Xfinity was able to match Verizon’s internet upload speeds, I would still have them at home today. Unfortunately, at least in my area, they can’t. That said, there are still plenty of good reasons to choose Xfinity xFi internet service.
As I mentioned, up until July 2020, I had been a loyal Xfinity customer at home and other locations for years. Even today, at a shared family property, I am still an Xfinity xFi customer, as Verizon FIOS service is not available in the area. As a result, I have strongly recommended Xfinity to friends and family over the years. Included below are some of the reasons why I recommend them, and the drawbacks.
- Fast download speed. Xfinity xFi offers fast download speeds, with standard packages that can reach up to 1.2 Gbps. This is great if you do a lot of streaming. Xfinity even offers up to 2.5 Gbps in some markets, but that is likely limited and pretty expensive, as I have never heard of anyone having it.
- Available in most areas. As Xfinity xFi uses coaxial cable to provide internet service, they are typically available in most markets/areas as an option. If you can get cable TV, you can get Xfinity xFi service.
- Offer’s Wi-Fi6 router. Be sure to ask for the XB7 Gateway to ensure you get the latest Wi-Fi6 protocol. This will help you maximize your Wi-Fi speeds on devices that support Wifi6. The router itself has 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports and can support speeds up to 2.5 Gbps for areas that can support it. Also, since I rent/lease my equipment from Xfinity, it allows me to upgrade to the latest equipment when they become available.
- Add xFi Pods for a mesh system option. Much like other mesh network systems in the market, Xfinity offers you the option to purchase additional access points to connect to your gateway, known as xFi Pods, to extend your network. The Pods seamlessly integrate with your Xfinity XB6 or XB7 gateway, allowing you to create and manage a mesh network within the xFi app. Unlike other options out there, the Xfinity xFi pods were very affordable initially, at $99 for a 3-pack, but they were limited in their throughput (topping out around 200 Mbps). That said, they have recently released a more powerful tri-banded version of the xFi pod that promises increased range and throughput (up to 500 Mbps). Of course, with an increase in power, comes an increased cost, with one costing $119 and a 2 pack at $199.
- Provides xFi app to control your network. Change your network name, network password, or manage who is connected through parental controls, all from the XFi app. Unlike its fiber optic competitor, the Xfinity xFi app focuses on the internet only, separating account related items like billing and promotions into the My Account app. This allows for a cleaner more focused user experience in my opinion.
- Provides xFi Advanced Security service. Protect the devices that cannot protect themselves by monitoring and blocking threats at a router level. Get’s them before they get into your network.
- Great tech support. Tech support is available via chat at all hours, and they do a great job of troubleshooting issues remotely. If first-line support is unable to help, they can transfer you in the same session to specialists. I have found this very helpful from time to time when addressing speed issues.
- Great customer service. Unlike its fiber competitor, I have found Xfinity’s customer service to be great. Not only are they very patient with my questions, sticking with me until the issue is resolved, if they cannot address the issue themselves, they proactively offer service credits for my trouble. Overall, this is one of the primary reasons I recommend them. As I like to say, issues can happen, how you handle them is what makes a difference.
The Not So Good:
- Limited upload speeds. While Xfinity can match, and even beat, Wi-Fi speeds on the download side, they do not come close on the upload side for the standard customer. They offer a max of only 40 Mbps to non-business class customers. This has been described to me as a limitation of the coaxial cable connectivity by Xfinity support. So, unfortunately, for the same price, you get roughly 25X the upload speed from the fiber competition. If you are doing a lot of file transfers and concurrent video conferencing, like most of us are doing today, that extra upload bandwidth does come in handy.
- Bandwidth is not dedicated. Unlike its fiber competitors, which can provide dedicated bandwidth, the Xfinity customers, unfortunately, share the bandwidth with others in the area. That means, in areas with heavy concentrations of Xfinity customers, speeds can fluctuate from time to time. I know that my folks, who live in a very seasonal area in MA, find that their speeds take a dip once the summer season hits.
- xFi Pod (Gen1) range & throughput were lacking. While I cannot say if this has been addressed in the latest version of the xFi pods (Gen2), when I tested the Gen1 pods, I had to use up to 6 pods to fully cover my ~1600 sq ft (4 floors) home. Even then, they had issues getting to a back bedroom due to interference (in fairness most solutions do). Also, while I had a 1 GB plan, the Gen1 pods really throttled my performance, with a limited max output of 200 Mbps.