Video services

Comcast Makes Home Pass

Authentication has come a long way. In the latest move, Comcast Corp. announced Home Pass, a new feature providing access to online cable content at home without the hassle of a user login screen, earlier this week.

Comcast piloted automatic authentication (aka "auto-auth") during the 2012 Olympic Games in London and this year's March Madness college basketball tournament. After a successful trial run, Home Pass is now rolling out to all of the MSO's Xfinity TV subscribers as a permanent feature.

In-home authentication works by tying user accounts to the MAC address on the home router. With Home Pass, as long as consumers stay on the home Wi-Fi network, Comcast can identify paying customers and grant immediate access to subscription content through its Xfinity website. Comcast says the Xfinity site now features more than 285,000 available video titles.

Recently, Parks Associates reported that only 26 percent of U.S. consumers are even aware of available TV Everywhere services. (See Is TV Everywhere Going Nowhere?)

Unfortunately for cable companies, even those users who are aware are often turned off when they can't remember their login credentials or the sign-in process proves too tedious.

To attract more consumers, service providers are aggressively experimenting with ways to remove the login barrier. These include testing auto-auth strategies and tying TV Everywhere access to a Facebook or Twitter Inc. account. Down the road, software vendors indicate that service providers could also extend automatic authentication outside the home by tying it directly to users' devices.

For now, Comcast is sticking with in-home automatic logins. But the MSO says it is "already starting to look at ways to extend Home Pass to additional platforms in the future."

— Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable

gconnery 7/12/2013 | 5:36:06 PM
re: Comcast Makes Home Pass Sorry, I meant cable modem. I have a Motorola Surboard SB6121 that I picked up for $60 or so. Saves me $5 per month or so meaning it pays for itself in a year. Boosted my speeds too. Obviously the modem is in Comcast's system. I had to call them to enable it. But I'm still having to login manually to watch anything with a key symbol over it when you hover over it, basically meaning anything that's not really just on Hulu. So "The Bridge" or Disney shows or "Dexter" or "The Newsroom".
swattz101 7/12/2013 | 4:51:27 PM
re: Comcast Makes Home Pass The IP address is dynamic but controlled by Comcast. MAC addresses are static. I would think it would be tied to the modem, not the router. The MAC of the modem has to be in Comcast's system to authorize internet access. That is how they bill you and track your usage. It's their network, and the modem is already tied to the account; just authorize anything behind the modem. Individual devices outside the network will be a little tougher.
gconnery 7/10/2013 | 8:44:39 PM
re: Comcast Makes Home Pass First, it looks like this only works for accessing the Xfinitity.com/TV website. So if I want to login to HBO Go on my Apple TV, I still need my login credentials. Sounds like they're hoping to fix that over time, but that isn't part of this announcement.

Second, I just tried going to the http://xfinity.com/TV website and clicking on Dexter and I still got a login prompt, so not sure if this is actually rolled out yet or not. Personally I own my own router, so maybe it works for everybody who doesn't (i.e. most people, who don't do the math on rent vs. own here) and I'm an outlier. Wouldn't be shocked though if this was the usual slow rollout. I'm in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Third, I guess the obvious question is how they get your Router's MAC address. Is it dynamic, and if so how dynamic? I assume most people don't use their Comcast email accounts and thus don't even know their Comcast logins.
nuker 7/6/2013 | 5:26:39 AM
re: Comcast Makes Home Pass Hack your neighbor's WiFi to get free cable !
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