Video services

Comcast Wins Praise, But Suffers Delays

Comcast has announced a slew of new services in recent months, which is why it should come as no surprise that some product launches -- like the Xfinity talking guide -- have proceeded as planned, while others -- like Comcast's Gigabit Pro service -- have suffered setbacks.

In the praiseworthy camp, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s talking program guide for the X1 platform has now been activated on more than 650,000 set-tops across the country, and Comcast reports that the guide uttered more than 73 million menu items and descriptions in the month of April alone. Launched last November, the talking guide was recently recognized by the FCC as an innovative achievement benefiting people with disabilities. The guide has also received recognition from the Associated Services for the Blind, the American Association of People with Disabilities, and the American Foundation for the Blind.

Vice President of Accessibility Tom Wlodkowski demonstrated the talking guide on stage at last month's Internet & Television Expo, and also spoke about the positive reactions from Comcast subscribers. Earlier this year, Comcast created a series of commercials highlighting the guide's target audience with the story of a blind girl named Emily, and what she "sees" when watching her favorite movie, The Wizard of Oz.

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However, while the talking guide continues to gain traction, Comcast's Gigabit Pro service is off to a slow start. Initially expected to launch in select markets in May, the symmetrical broadband service offering speeds up to 2 Gbits/s has stalled. Not only has the product not launched yet, but Comcast has also remained mum on pricing. A promotional website suggested that Gigabit Pro would cost $299 per month, but Comcast said the web pages were a mistake, and that its pricing strategy was not yet finalized. (See Comcast Targets 6 New Gigabit Markets.)

DSL Reports was the first to note the service delay based on reports on the site's user forums. Comcast still has a chance to make up time, however, as the only provider so far to promise a service with multi-gigabit broadband speeds. The company plans to follow up on its fiber-based gigabit service with new gigabit offerings powered by DOCSIS 3.1 on hybrid fiber coax in 2016. (See Comcast Preps 2-Gig Service… Over Fiber.)

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

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