Comcast Connected Nearly 1 Billion Devices Over WiFi in 2021

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PHILADELPHIA—Comcast has issued a new report on WiFi usage that provides a fascinating look at the importance of WiFi in homes and how that usage is changing, providing insights into a number of emerging services. 

Comcast’s 2021 WiFi Trends Report found that WiFi now has a growing and central role in homes, with the number of devices connected to WiFi skyrocketing 12X since 2018 as Xfinity households connected nearly 1 billion devices in 2021. 

That has made WiFi so critical that a Comcast-commissioned survey of consumers in November of 2021 found that nearly half of the country (45 percent) believe it is more important than reliable transportation. 

“The ecosystem of connected devices in the home and the applications running on them has exploded over the last few years, driving a shift in consumers’ perceptions on what truly is important to their connectivity experience,” said Sophie Ahmad, chief marketing officer of Xfinity Consumer Service, Comcast Cable. “Unbeatable Internet that provides the best connection, complete security, faster speeds and the best tech is now integral to how Americans work, exercise, parent, and entertain.”

Not surprisingly the report found that smartphones comprise more than a third of all devices connected on WiFi, dominating the connected device category with nearly 347 million connected in Xfinity households in 2021. That is a whopping 23X increase from 2018.

In addition, streaming continued to see significant growth in Xfinity households in 2021, with 119 million devices connected to WiFi during the year – a 14X increase from 2018.

The report also found at least one game system per home, with more than 36 million consoles connected to WiFi in Xfinity households – a 15X increase from 2018. Nearly two in three Americans who play online games (or live with others who do) say online video games are being played more today compared to five years ago. 

The report found that health was the fastest growing device category with more than 49 million smartwatches and fitness trackers connected to WiFi in Xfinity households––a 39X increase from 2018. 

Exercise equipment connected to WiFi also increased 93X for a total of almost 841,000 devices. This trend will continue, with 20 percent of households planning to purchase fitness-related devices over the next 12 months, according to the Xfinity survey. 

Homes are also getting smarter, as consumers increasingly purchase such Internet of Things (IoT) devices as connected cameras, doorbells, thermostats, and other devices. Xfinity households connected more than 2.5 million IoT devices in 2021, a 31X increase over 2018 levels.

Given the importance of WiFi, the survey also found that Xfinity customers were looking for new ways to control how and when their families used WiFi last year. 

In 2021, more than 1 million Xfinity households used xFi parental controls, with customers pausing/unpausing WiFi nearly 100 million times. 

In the same year, more than 477,000 customers created a total of more than 1 million “downtime” schedules, with the most popular moment being bedtime – followed by homework and dinnertime.

Improving the WiFi experience was another big trend. As a majority of Americans worked remotely in 2021, nearly three in five Americans (59 percent) improved their WiFi last year, with about a third upgrading their equipment (28 percent) or increasing their speeds (27 percent). 

In addition, Xfinity Internet customers purchased more than one million xFi pods, WiFi extenders that ensure stronger WiFi coverage throughout the home, over the last 3 years. 

Comcast released the 2021 WiFi Trends Report on the heels of announcing its newest gateway, the next generation xFi Advanced Gateway.

It delivers ultra-fast, multi-Gig speeds, and has more capacity to connect hundreds of devices simultaneously. The gateway increases bandwidth in the home by 3X to support the massive influx of connected devices. 

The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,000 nationally representative U.S. adults ages 18 and older in November 2021.

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.