(Photo courtesy of Comcast)
Before Comcast rolls out a new product, such as its recent announcement of its next-generation xFi Advanced Gateway, to hundreds of thousands of users, it’s first worked on, talked about and tested by more than a hundred employees.
Comcast announced the release of the the device — and its capabilities for streamlining the dispersion of Wi-Fi to multiple devices at once — at the beginning of the month at CES, saying it would increase internet speeds, lower latency and up capacity for devices. The gateway comes with xFi, a digital dashboard that customers can use to control things like pausing the Wi-Fi, content filters for children or screen-scheduling time.
The new xFi Advanced Gateway will be available in the coming months to customers who subscribe to Xfinity internet speed tiers of 300 Mbps or faster, the company said.
Technical.ly talked with Kunle Ekundare, a locally based director of product management at Comcast, about working on the rollout of a national product, and how those products play into his home life. (At home, he said, his family has at least 19 devices connected to Wi-Fi.)
The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Technical.ly: How long did the team work on this product, and what was your role?
Kunle Ekundare: Most products typically take between 12 and 24 months, and this gateway took about 18. My role with it included everything from the technical review, to the actual product requirements definition, to the technical review of specifications, test review, program management, merchandising and how we communicate it out. Essentially, I own it from start to finish.
Can you explain the importance in this new gateway rollout?
We all appreciate the traffic on the Schuylkill with it’s two lanes, but what if we added a third lane? You can imagine how much faster it would be to travel with this extra space. The gateway is essentially taking a device and giving you the opportunity to grow your bandwidth. With the number of connected devices at home, this gateway allows you to take advantage of that faster internet, increase your phone’s battery life or decrease latency if you’re a gamer.
With Wi-Fi 6, you’ll see a 20 to 25% improvement in Wi-Fi speed and connectivity, which might not seem like a lot, but if you have multiple devices at home you’ll notice it. The fact that they’re all connected, means that there’s a lot of value in the performance share.
How long have you been with Comcast, and what’s your experience there like?
I did my electrical engineering degree at Temple [University] and got my MBA at Drexel [University]. I’m a local guy, and I’ve been with Comcast since 2001. I’m a big fan of what Comcast does as an employee and a user, I believe we provide the best products for our customer base.
And as Comcast employees, when we’re at family barbecues, we’re listening to friends and family talk about their pressure points — the issues they’re having, how to use their Wi-Fi, how to control their kid’s music, etc. We [also] think it’s important that when we’re going on truck rolls [aka when a Comcast technician drives to a customer’s home to install or fix a device] or taking phone calls that we’re following up with them to see how their experience is.
The best word to describe my team would be eclectic. We’re a good group of folks from different backgrounds, which I think allows us to have different schools of thought. One of the goals we try to have is to take an introspective and reflective approach. After we finish work on a project, we say, “What did we learn from this project?” and “What do we want to implement in the future?”
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