Security Platforms/Tools

Comcast Goes Big With Xfinity Home

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has rolled out its broadband-fed home monitoring and security product in about one-third of its footprint, and has designs on having it up and running in the vast majority of its markets by the end of the year.

The rollout goal for that product, recently rechristened as Xfinity Home, "is to virtually deploy it to the entire country this year," says Mitch Bowling, Comcast's SVP and GM of new businesses. Comcast's systems pass about 52.5 million homes.

Comcast debuted the product (then called Xfinity Home Security) in June 2010 in Houston. It's since expanded it to its hometown of Philadelphia; Portland, Ore.; Chattanooga, Knoxville and Nashville, Tenn.; Sarasota/Naples, Fla.; parts of New Jersey; Indianapolis; Denver; Seattle; Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.; and pockets of Delaware. (See Comcast Homes In on Security Services and Comcast Unlocks Home Security Service.)

Comcast is looking to cash in with premium packages, starting at $24.95 (plus $199 for installation), that ride the MSO's broadband pipe to handle home security functions and other features that, for example, let users remotely control the home's lighting and locks.

Comcast won't say how many customers have signed on so far, but Bowling says the Preferred package, which runs $39.95 per month, has been popular and that many of those customers are adding video cameras to the package (Xfinity Home's video monitoring component is another $4.95 per month).

Comcast is expanding its Xfinity Home footprint as security and monitoring services morph from a differentiator to a table stake, now that broadband competitors such as Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), which has plans to sell its home security product outside the FiOS footprint, enter the picture as well. (See Verizon Expands Home-Monitoring Service Plans.)

Next steps
That's causing operators like Comcast to add even more features, the latest coming from a partnership with EcoFactor Inc. : a home thermostat management system that aims to reduce energy use by way of a proprietary system that relies on real-time weather data. (See Comcast Connects With EcoFactor.)

"It's taking thermostat management to the cloud," Bowling says. He's hopeful that Comcast, which is integrating EcoFactor's systems with its Icontrol Networks Inc. -powered Xfinity Home service, will launch the feature by early 2013 or sooner.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

msilbey 12/5/2012 | 5:40:33 PM
re: Comcast Goes Big With Xfinity Home

I'm really curious about adoption for all of these MSO home security/automation services. Outside of the straight-up home security biz (ADT, etc.), I don't think anyone's been successful with this stuff. And the monthly cable/telco bill is getting awfully high. The only feature that really appeals to me is thermostat control, and I'd rather pay a one-time fee for Nest than a recurring fee with Comcast, Verizon, or whoever. 

On the other hand, maybe this is like the DVR business. I loved my ReplayTV, but DVRs didn't go in for mass adoption until the cable companies started offering them. 

msilbey 12/5/2012 | 5:40:32 PM
re: Comcast Goes Big With Xfinity Home

I remember well when the cablecos tried to do this several years back. I think the problem was a combination of a lack of broadband and the fact that operators didn't want to take on the actual security piece--- being responsible for emergency calls, liability, etc. I guess the MSOs finally piled up enough cash to make the necessary investment there. 

I'm more interested in the energy saving stuff than the home security. And I'm curious to see how/if the cablecos try to work with the utility companies the way the telcos have been. There's a whole other market there, albeit a very contentious one. 

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:40:32 PM
re: Comcast Goes Big With Xfinity Home

The cable guys dumped a bunch of cash into @Security Broadband several years ago, but were probably getting after that type of service too early as broadband wasn't that heavily penetrated at the time. So they've flirted with this idea for some time.  I'd like to see the numbers too but there has to be a good reason why so many SPs are getting into this market now. S'ure, it'll jack up your "cable" bill if that's how one might look at it, but there are already a bunch of people out there now that are paying a monthly nut to the ADTs of the world, so we're talking about a portion of discretionary income that already exists that the SPs can target while offering some new bells and whistles. 

But they'll have to get over the stigma of being a cable company that's providing the home security piece -- there's a trust factor that they'll have to overcome just as cable had to do with residential phone and biz services.

But if the SPs are successful with this business and add yet another piece to the service bundle, it'll make it harder on those customers to change providers, no? But agree that this portion of their biz is still in the early days for MSos and telcos. JB



AESerm 12/5/2012 | 5:40:31 PM
re: Comcast Goes Big With Xfinity Home

I recall one quotable cable exec once calling home security the killer app, because it had killed everyone who'd ever tried to do it. Probably the security camera option, which makes this more than a me-too service, requires D3 type throughput, so not a doable option until recently. 

craigleddy 12/5/2012 | 5:40:29 PM
re: Comcast Goes Big With Xfinity Home

Ha, good line. Yes, as noted here, home security long ago ended up on the junk pile of failed cable ideas. So why the newfound enthusiasm?

Operators say it's not just about security, it's this smart home automation concept: Home security, thermostat control, lighting, etc. MSOs can use D3, these nifty little monitor devices and those mini cameras that people use to spy on their pets, kids and neighbors -- you know, 21st Century stuff.

Earlier I checked out Rogers Communications' Smart Home Monitoring service at a Rogers retail store in Toronto. It's based on solutions by iControl Networks, which is backed by Rogers, Comcast Ventures, Cisco, Intel Capital, Kleiner Perkins and others.

Was I sold? Well, the service starts at $39.99 (Canadian) a month, plus hardware purchase. Gee, is the Canadian dollar that strong??     





AESerm 12/5/2012 | 5:40:29 PM
re: Comcast Goes Big With Xfinity Home

Right, it's not plain ole security service - not just alarms but cameras - and it's not just security, but home automation. Maybe the incumbents are vulnerable. There's always been something a bit sketchy about my encounters with that industry. In one case, a salesmen pitched me one day and the next night someone (else?) tried to break into the house. 

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