This story was produced in partnership with Xfinity xFi, the speed, coverage, and control you need for the ultimate in-home WiFi experience.
Think to back when you were a kid: there was probably only one thing in your house connected to the Internet — a bulky desktop computer. How times have changed. Now there’s not only your sleek laptop computer, but also your phones, tablets, thermostats, TVs, speakers, lights, and maybe even your refrigerator — all connected by WiFi. It’s a very different world that requires a very different setup. “When I was young, I had a TV where my brother had to climb up into the attic to physically rotate the antenna in order to get one of the channels,” says Charlie Douglas, national spokesman for Xfinity xFi and father of two boys who are as tech-savvy as you might expect. “Today, I have more than 30 WiFi-connected devices in my house.”
For Douglas, they’re all powered by the xFi ecosystem: a complete solution for your Internet service, giving you the speed, coverage, and control families need for the ultimate in-home WiFi experience. The xFi experience includes a powerful Internet modem and WiFi router in one device (the company offers two options: the xFi Advanced Gateway, which is capable of delivering gigabit speeds, of the xFi Gateway, which is still super fast) and a single app (for iOS or Android) to control it all. You can also add xFi Pods which can extend WiFi coverage to hard-to-reach areas of a home. It’s the fastest and most reliable Internet available. Importantly, to a dad like Douglas, it keeps that simple user experience front and center.
“The more that smart devices become embedded in my household, the more important it is to have the Internet running smoothly,” Douglas says. “Because the second it isn’t, the whole house goes down, and everyone is screaming and yelling at me to fix it. Now I have the tools and controls on my smartphone to be able to quickly figure out what’s going on and manage all those connected devices.” Here’s how xFi does just that.
Internet Control and the Power of Pause
The number of devices in a home grows fast with a growing family. “My kids now have at least three or four WiFi-connected devices each,” Douglas says. This is why app-based control over them is so crucial. With xFi, it’s easy to create a profile that personalizes and controls various devices for each family member. From there, you can control them as you see fit.
“When I want total control over the kids’ Internet and whatever they’re doing on it, I can pause WiFI on just them,” says Douglas. “I’ll hear footsteps on the stairs in, like, 5 seconds. Some of our engineers joke the pause button should be called the ‘kid finder.’”
xFi isn’t just a way to cut off WiFi — it’s also a parenting tool. When his two sons fight over control of, say, a video game, Douglas can pause WiFi just to that device until they make up and decide to take turns. “I can hear them fighting upstairs from the living room,” he says, “and I can just hit pause and I know I’m either going to renegotiate peace in the kingdom or I’m just going to shut the gaming console off for a while.”
Best of all, the xFi app is the only one you need. Simply put your smart bulbs, thermostat, and more into a single household bucket that you alone control. You don’t have to go to 15 different apps to control all your connected devices anymore — just the one.
Parental Controls and the Automated Blacklist
“My younger son is 12,” says Douglas. “If he was going to physically walk out the front door and walk to my neighborhood shops, then he would tell me, ‘Hey, Dad, I’m going to the store with my friends.’ And I’d be fine with that. But when he’s up in his room on the Internet, I have zero idea where he’s going in the digital world — and that concerns me and my wife. We want to protect him from seeing content that’s not age-appropriate for him or that he’s not old enough to understand.”
xFi has made parental controls simple. It’s an “on” or “off” option that you can flip in the app. Xfinity has partnered with a third party to blacklist websites that might not be kid-friendly, so your mind is at ease when you flip that switch on, and you don’t have to do any of the manual labor of blacklisting individual websites.
“I’ve tried to use parental controls on certain laptops and browsers, but then I have to manage each one, plus phones and tablets. It’s too complicated. Sometimes, I have to override a blocked website that my son needs to access for homework,” Douglas says. “xFi just simplifies parental controls with one button to all the devices.”
xFi also gives you a window into time your kids are spending on WiFi with a features called Active Time Alerts. In short, these let you know how long your kids have been online during any given day. Then there’s Bedtime Mode, which lets you shut down the WiFi on your kids’ devices at your chosen time of night.
“When he was in fourth grade, I set my son’s WiFi Bedtime Mode at 8:00 p.m.,” says Douglas. “Now he’s in sixth grade, and so we had a family conversation about giving him another hour of WiFi at night. So, we changed him to 9:00 p.m. It gives my wife and I a reason to have a conversation with him about why we care about how much sleep he’s getting and why he needs to read a book for a while before going to bed each night (not that that happens every night). We’re paying attention to how much time he’s online every day and how late he’s online, especially on school nights. xFi gives you two settings, too. One for weekdays and one for the weekends so you don’t have to constantly fiddle with it, but it gives you the flexibility to change it during vacations or the summertime.”
A Modem and Router That Looks, Feels, and Acts Modern
That giant, ugly brick next to the other brick with antennas sticking out of it every which way looks downright antiquated next to the Advanced Gateway, a modem and router in one that looks as advanced as it is.
“When you look at most routers, it’s just an unremarkable black rectangle,” Douglas says. “It doesn’t scream innovation. Our engineers did a beautiful job addressing the form factor and the look of it. Now, you can put your gateway out in the open, which is where it should be anyway, in the center of your home.” Indeed, the best place for the Gateway is right in the middle of your home (elevated on a counter) for the overall best WiFi connectivity.
Having a modem and router in one also eliminates the need to manage two distinct devices for your Internet. Inside the Gateway, you’ve also got multiple WiFi antennas working on both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies — blanketing your whole house in super-fast WiFi.
But what if your house is big, oddly shaped, or sports a giant fish tank in the middle? (Yes, that can cause WiFi issues.) That’s just what the xFi Pods were designed for. These pluggable beacons work seamlessly with either the Gateway or Advanced Gateway to create a mesh WiFi network.
“You might have a really cool porch that you’ve turned into a four-season room, but it’s on the other side of your big, brick fireplace,” says Douglas. “You might benefit from being able to have one of your xFi Pods in that room because the WiFi signal may be weak if it’s unable to go around the brick fireplace.”
The xFi Pods effectively eliminate the dead spots in your home — giving your entire family WiFi in whatever room they may be in.
The Fastest and Most Reliable Home Internet
Most people think about speed and price when it comes to their home WiFi. Certainly, that matters, and it’s why Comcast invests heavily in thousands of miles of fiber and coax to serve their 25 million data-hungry customers in the United States. It takes round-the-clock work to make it all zip along.
But Xfinity wanted to add a third consideration for consumers to think about when they choose an Internet service provider: how simple is it to manage your WiFi experience? “xFi is about reinventing WiFi,” says Douglas. What does that look like? Douglas found it for himself at home through the parental controls. “From my experience, the parental controls and active time alerts prompt me to be more present and alert. It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day, but it’s important to me and my wife that we pay attention to what our kids are doing. I think it makes me a better dad. I’m reminded that I need to step in, because the boys have been online for several hours. If it’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon, then it’s time to hit pause on WiFi and all go outside to throw the football around together.”