With storms raging heavier and power and communication lines going down at historic levels, Comcast’s newly announced Storm-Ready WiFi, which provides emergency internet access when the power goes out, is clearly a product that’s time has come.
Designed to bail out Xfinity internet customers experiencing service interruption, the first-of-its-kind Storm-Ready WiFi device relies on alternative cellular connectivity and is self-powered with an outboard four-hour rechargeable battery. That’s more than enough capacity to handle the average two-hour outage experienced by most U.S. customers.
How does it work?
Comcast promises that the device’s auto-failover circuitry will click seamlessly into gear when the power goes out. Your internet service will then arrive via Verizon’s 4G LTE wireless network and is funneled to your products via a battery-powered WiFi 6 router. Under some circumstances, you might not even know that Storm-Ready has automatically taken charge. The device operates with the same network name (SSID) and password used by your regular Xfinity gateway. So there is no need to re-sign in.
What are the maximum upload and download speeds a user can expect from Storm-Ready?
While dependent on the local capacity of its cellular service partner Verizon (which also supplies the backbone for Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile offerings), the Storm-Ready WiFi device is quoted as delivering “speeds up to approximately 30 Mbps to the home when in cellular backup mode.” That’s enough to stay connected to critical information and support most content streaming (Standard Def movies need 3 Mbps, High Def streams need at least 7 Mbps.) Yes, multiple devices can be connected simultaneously. And there are no caps on usage. Customers get free unlimited cellular data whenever the Storm Ready WiFi device operates in cellular mode.
Does this thing have other uses?
Storm-Ready WiFi also offers everyday functionality as a WiFi signal extender. It’s been custom designed to work in a mesh-networking fashion with leased Xfinity gateways and xFi Pods. Sorry, it’s not compatible with third-party mesh network devices (eero, Google WiFi, TP-Link, etc).
Can I use Storm-Ready WiFi in tandem with a third-party but Xfinity-compatible router I purchased outright?
In a word, no. Storm-Ready works only with a leased Xfinity-branded router. You give, you get.
Where should the box be located?
Storm-Ready WiFi works best placed in an indoor location with a strong cellular signal. The device measures 160 mm (6.3”) high x 110 mm (4.3”) wide by 110 mm (4.3”) deep. It also demands a bit of adjacent space for the battery, measuring 99 mm (3.9”) high, 41 mm (1.61”) wide, and 110 mm (4.3”) deep. Your chosen gear location should also take into account Story-Ready’s secondary application as a WiFi extender – with placement not too close and not too far away from your everyday Xfinity Gateway. Think two rooms away.
What’s this thing going to cost me?
Your Comcast bill will tack on a $7-a-month charge for 36 months to pay off the device. Or, should you prefer, you can pay it off with a one-time payment of $252. Both options are available on the Xfinity site or in person at an Xfinity Store. Once you’ve paid off the box, there is no additional monthly usage fee.
Can you share more on the battery?
One outboard, rechargeable Lithium-ion battery is included in the package. The battery plugs into the Storm-Ready via a one-meter cord (39 inches), so you can stash it out of sight. The battery recharges automatically via the Storm-Ready to maintain its four-hour capacity. Additional batteries to extend use will become available “in the coming months,” price TBA.
Could Storm-Ready be deployed independently as a 24/7 cellular-based data delivery service?
No. Unlike services like T-Mobile’s 5G Home Internet service, Storm-Ready is only meant to function in a temporary fashion during pesky service outages. Your wired-into-the-home Xfinity service and Xfinity Gateway deliver much speedier service.
[Image credit: Comcast Corporation, 2023]