Comcast WiFi Pro Won’t Sit Well With WLAN Engineers

As a WLAN architect and widely-published gonzo bloggist livin’ in the world, I get a fair amount of email invites to talk with different industry folks about what’s going on with new initiatives. I’m profoundly thankful to be able to feel the pulse of the WLAN industry up close and personal on occasion, and I try not to be hyper-critical (unless something really, really sucks). Earlier this week, I saw Twitterflashes of Comcast’s new WiFi Pro service whizzing by, a la:


Shortly after, I got an email invite from a very nice PR gent asking if I wanted to to talk with Comcast about WiFi Pro. Being quite busy, I had to decline a call but did promise to write it up if I could get a few basic questions answered. The PR guy did indeed get responses, and he got them quickly (obviously a fellow man of action). The answers from John Guillaume, vice president of Product Management at Comcast Business, weren’t unexpected, and I’ll share them here before I find fault:

Me: What WLAN hardware is in use? What of routers, switching?

WiFi Pro is delivered using a high-performance wireless access point using the latest AC chipset capable of 1Gbps performance. The WiFi Pro device is cabled to the cable modem via Ethernet.

Me: What is SMB measured as here- how many APs?

We define small business as 1-20 employees, and mid-sized businesses as 21-500 employees. In most cases, WiFi Pro would be used in a small business or enterprise branch location. With WiFi Pro you can have multiple access points – up to 2 APs to expand your reach, depending on the configuration needed. This is a managed solution, so the equipment and access points are installed and managed by expert technicians.

Me: Will Comcast SMB wireless use design best practices that their consumer side doesn’t- like WLAN channel planning and only using non-overlapping channels?

The WiFi Pro access point uses an advanced auto channel algorithm that searches for the cleanest airspace in both the 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz spectrum and ensures channel overlap avoidance.  

WiFi Pro is designed to allow businesses to simply create and manage two high-performance commercial Wi-Fi networks – a guest network for consumers and a private network for employees all through a simple mobile application.  This design, having separate networks for consumers and employees, provides performance and range benefits as well as control and security benefits. WiFi Pro also uses the latest AC chipset to support the fastest WiFi speeds and maximum range.

Plus, with WiFi Pro you can get unparalleled control over almost every aspect of the network – via a smartphone – using the web-app. Businesses can get analytics and reporting to obtain insight into their deployed WiFi networks with metrics on connected access points and customer counts.  Best of all, businesses can reach their customers like never before using marketing tools to promote their brand via guest networks and splash pages.

OK. Here’s why WLAN professionals HATE services like Comcast’s WiFi Pro (other than the fast-and-loose “capable of 1 Gbps performance” thing. I’m CAPABLE of dating Halle Berry but it ain’t happening- she keeps calling the house, my wife is getting pissed.) 

The WiFi Pro access point uses an advanced auto channel algorithm that searches for the cleanest airspace in both the 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz spectrum and ensures channel overlap avoidance.  

Join me for a second in a collective WLAN-admin face palm. Really grind your forehead into your hand… You don’t have to go very far to find a whole bunch of Comcast or Time Warner residential wireless networks sitting on bad channels. Nobody is telling Mr. Guillaume that if you’re on anything other than 1,6, and 11 in 2.4 GHz, then you are making life tough for your nearby neighbors. I’m guessing there is also no output power adjust om the nameless high-performance wireless access point. Put another way, to the professional WLAN community, Comcast is flunking WLAN 101 and losing credibility along the way.

The thing that sucks here is if you look at the rest of what WiFi Pro promises, it might actually be a good deal. But for the love of cheese, what will it take to get cable providers and personal hotspot makers to follow WLAN best practices as they flood the landscape with their devices?


15 thoughts on “Comcast WiFi Pro Won’t Sit Well With WLAN Engineers

  1. R (@googler_ram)

    I totally agree with bullshit behind “an advanced auto channel algorithm that searches for the cleanest airspace in both the 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz” as a wlan developer I feel chipset makers(Qualcomm) acs algo are just plain awful, it’s only the vendors/OEM who change this algo and that too are not upto the mark.

  2. Jeremy Gibbs

    That made me throw up a little in my mouth.. I hate Comcast / TWC..

    “We use an ultra advanced flux-capacitor to tune the signwaves to an optimal performance metric that is professionally managed by our team of orangutans in Antarctica”

  3. J H

    i have two of the wifi pro access points with my comcast business internet. its a ‘airtight (also known as MoJo) C-75 Access Point”
    802.11 a/n/ac + b/g/n
    up to 1.3 Gbps on 802.11ac
    450 Mbps on 802.11n
    it has a DC in power connection
    3 RJ45 ethernet ports:
    lan1 (this one also does POE)

    each unit is 19.95 per month
    (these do not have modems in them just the AP, so you will still need that also

    One nice thing is that any changes i make to the AP’s via the app are applied to both of them at the same time.

    hope this helps you guys.

  4. Cee Dub

    Waiting on a ComCast tech here because the wifi is failing miserably.
    3 Mojo/Airtight APs on site have the most basic of gui available. You can create/delete SSIDs and look at a graph that counts your clients. No mac addresses, IP address, no channel information, no signal strength.
    This is a product for people who don’t count on Wifi

  5. Gandalf the White

    Someone let the Accountant order the internet service at our new location and they got her with every upsell they could. I had never heard of Mojo before (we only use Ubiquity WAPs), so I came here looking for answers since we got stuck with one. This Mojo C-75 has been installed only 1 week and I’ve already had to go fix it. (The SSID was playing peekaboo and I had to reboot it twice.) I’m not impressed at all! Plus, we’re paying $20/month for the Wifi Pro “service” on top of a $50 activation fee.

  6. BP

    The Wifi Pro is provided by Mojo Airtight, it is not a product of Comcast. They are merely partnered up with Mojo to offer this product to customers that are looking for a wireless mesh network. Any hardware issues usually generate a tech to come out, test your wifi, and leave or possibly just swapping the unit. The unit is supposed to take a firmware update as soon as it gets installed, however, this is almost never the case, and these updates come from Mojo, not Comcast. While they appear to be slightly better than Comcast’s Business wireless modem, they still do not perform as well as some expect, especially larger size businesses. Smaller coffee shops with light customer usage seem to be ok. The GUI is very crude-imentary at best in an attempt to keep it simple for non-technical users. If you use a wifi spectrum analyzer you can see all of the channels the device puts out, and each network created is its own separate network non-routable to the others, generally in the 172.x.x.x range.
    This was Comcast’s attempt at offering a better wifi product to small businesses that their wireless gateways could not produce. The main problem I have with any of this is they do not teach or train their technicians about troubleshooting wireless with the exception of breaking out an iPhone or laptop to test. They do not offer any advanced wifi technical troubleshooting. There offering a product they are not fully trained to support in regards to the wifi side of things.

  7. Beatrice

    I am an IT Director in a 16acres boarding school, 4 buildings, 1 main building and 3 houses, you can imagine how unsatisfied I am with the service, excuse It is not enough. Also, we have a whole IP camera security system, that will take a good amount of speed for live streaming and recording. We have Ubiquitis as AP installed around the school and I got this MOJO thing installed in a house and when they hire the service without my consent, they said that the WIFI Pro will cover the two big houses, one is at least 20ft away in front of the other. Should I get another account for this house or set up another Ubiquiti or Mesh connection? The distance between both houses is just open air space, there is no building between them . Thanks in advanced for your help!

    1. wirednot Post author

      Hi Beatrice. If you have sufficient bandwidth on one ISP connection for actual Internet traffic, I would not incur another monthly fee just to get a little more WiFi. Point-to-Point Ubiquiti bridge to the rescue, says I. If you want me to do a little consulting on what you’re dealing with, I can send my contact info.

      1. Beatriz Maria Mendez

        Thank you so much. Yes! Point to point! They cover long distances. I used to have a network from a building to another one. Yes, please I would like your contact info.

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