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Comcast: 'We’re not just a cable company anymore'

It offers Xfinity Home security and is creating Xfinity Customer Centers to showcase and sell the product
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05/01/2013

PHILADELPHIA—Comcast was a leader among telecoms and cablecos entering the security market, launching Xfinity Home in 2010. Now it’s on the leading edge of a new trend of selling home security in retail stores—opening more than 40 Xfinity Customer Centers nationwide, with more on the way.

Comcast sold on retail security sales

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I’ve been writing about a new trend in the industry: selling home security in a retail environment. And now communications giant Comcast is one of the latest to embrace retail, opening a new store in Albuquerque, N.M. designed to let customers experience its Xfinity Home automation/home security product firsthand.

Philadelphia-based Comcast on April 20 held a grand opening of its new Xfinity Customer Center, the company said. It invited elected officials and community leaders to tour the facility, and Comcast gave a $2,500 donation to the Boys & Girls Club of Central New Mexico.

Comcast said the 2,500 square-foot center, which is open seven days a week, “is designed entirely around the needs of customers and provides consumers with an opportunity to explore, learn about, and interact directly with the latest Xfinity products and services.”

Here’s more on what Comcast had to say about the center:
 

Featuring fully interactive touchscreen displays; the environment enables customers to learn about products and indulge in the complete Xfinity Experience. The center also exhibits a 3D viewing experience, and comfortable seating areas. Customers can try out Comcast's Xfinity Home security system, the Xfinity TV app and popular apps on an iPad. Customers also can experience Xfinity TV, test drive Xfinity Internet's speeds and learn more about Comcast Business Class products and services at Kiosks throughout the center.

In addition, customers will receive personalized service from trained and knowledgeable Sales Consultants and more time-saving offerings, including a self-service kiosk for quick bill pay and a new queuing system that allows customers to explore and be entertained instead of waiting in line for service.

Comcast was a leader in the trend of among telecoms and cablecos entering the security market, launching its Xfinity Home Security product in June 2010. The company renamed the service last year as just Xfinity Home to reflect the fact that it includes many home automation features in addition to home security. The product has been rolled out in major markets across the nation.

Comcast is now part of a retail trend being embraced by both large and small companies selling security.

Telecom giant AT&T has told me that selling Digital Life, its home security/home automation product, in its retail stores is a key part of its sales strategy. Also, retail giant Lowe’s recently announced it is selling its Iris product not only its own stores but in Verizon Wireless stores.

And I just wrote recently about a small, traditional security company, Madison, Miss.-based The Alarm Company, finding its new retail location a roaring business success.

I’ll be talking to Comcast to learn more about its new store.

 

‘Make sure mobile is part of the solution you offer’

Industry experts say mobile apps must be part of a successful security business today
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09/07/2012

A smart revolution quietly occurred this year—one that’s dramatically changing the security industry.

As of February, a Nielsen report showed, about half of all Americans with mobile phones—49.7 percent—now own smartphones. And the number of smartphone owners is rapidly growing.

Massachusetts installers battle Comcast, Verizon in court

Lawsuit filed by installers’ group claims the cableco and telecom are endangering the public by not being licensed for the security alarm work they do in the state
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08/29/2012

SHARON, Mass.—A Massachusetts security systems installers’ group has taken Comcast and Verizon to court, charging the cableco and telecom lack the required state licenses to do security alarm-related work in Massachusetts.

Sizing up the competition

Go small for better service and big for better pricing? It’s not always that easy when comparing central stations
 - 
08/07/2012

“Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”
That pearl of wisdom from baseball legend Satchel Paige could very well be applied to the world of wholesale alarm monitoring. The competition is fierce and getting fiercer, raising the stakes for central stations of all sizes. Dissatisfaction over real or perceived problems can prompt a dealer to jump ship, costing a company a chunk of RMR and maybe even a bit of its reputation.

iControl helps Silicon Valley traveler keep in touch

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Monday, July 16, 2012

iControl, an interactive platform used for security/home automation by traditional security companies like ADT and the new cable entrants like Comcast, got a nice mention on the front page of the New York Times travel section yesterday.

The story, about how Silicon Valley entrepreneurs’ make travel paperless and stress-free, talks about Tim Ferris (author of The Four-Hour Work Week and other books in an updated self-help genre) has many gadgets that help him when he’s traveling, including iControl software—which keeps him in touch with his home.

From the story: “One of the world’s largest guarding companies When he’s on the road Mr. Ferriss uses iControl software, which allows him to receive e-mails with video clips from infrared cameras in his house and to receive text alerts on his phone about who’s going in and out of his home.”

Is Tim’s security system provided by a traditional provider or a cableco? I’m sure iControl wouldn’t disclose the answer to that question.

Security providers early winners in home automation/home security space

But telecoms and cable companies also are ‘in it to win’ and shouldn’t be discounted, an industry analyst says
 - 
05/29/2012

DALLAS—Security providers have a “first mover” advantage in home automation/home security right now, but the big telecoms and cable companies entering the space are serious competitors who may be game-changers in the future, according to a market research company analyst.

'20 under 40' 2012 - Enrique Puig

 - 
05/22/2012

Enrique Puig, 39
Senior director, field operations, Xfinity Home, Comcast
Philadelphia, Pa.

How did you get into the security industry?

Getting home security from the cable guy: drawbacks along with benefits

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

We’ve written a lot here at Security Systems News about more and more telecoms and cable companies getting into the security market. And now mainstream media is taking note. For example MSN Money had a recent post from its SmartMoney partner site, titled “Home security—from the cable guy.”

I read the post, thinking it would simply extol the convenience of bundling security with your cable. But it was actually a balanced piece that included the argument from professional security companies that the service they offer is safer. In fact, the subtitle of the piece was: “More cable TV companies are offering home-monitoring systems in their markets. Know the drawbacks before you sign.”

Here’s what the April 20 post had to say to consumers:
 

The same company that provides your home phone, Internet and television services now wants to offer some protection.

A growing number of telecom providers have added home security to their lineup of services. Their interactive systems use sensors and cameras to monitor the property, while apps let users check in remotely and receive alerts about trouble.

Comcast has expanded its Xfinity Home system to 65 percent of its markets since the 2010 pilot. In October, Verizon introduced Home Monitoring and Control in 12 states and Washington, D.C. Time Warner Cable launched IntelligentHome in markets including Los Angeles, Hawaii and upstate New York last summer. Cox Communications and AT&T are separately in the process of rolling out similar programs.

For the companies, the services are a way to "improve their revenue per user" by tapping into the $8 billion home security market, says Tom Kerber, research director for home controls and energy at Parks Associates, a research firm. Telecoms are worried about slowing broadband growth – 62 percent of households already have it, according to PewResearch –  as well as the rise in landline cord-cutting, he says.

CTIA-The Wireless Association reports that roughly a third of households are wireless only, up from 11 percent in 2006. It helps that smart-home technology has also become cheaper and more widespread in recent years, as consumers get used to using their smartphones to control the thermostat or sync with the car's entertainment system.

These companies say their smart-security set-ups let consumers have more interaction with their home than simply arming an alarm when they leave home and disarming it when they get back. Window and door sensors and cameras interact with apps and a control panel, letting customers set rules about when the system reacts, and how.

For example, "when doors open, the system takes a video of whatever made that door open, and I get an alert on my phone," says Mitch Bowling, a senior vice president for Comcast Cable.

Users can also set alerts for things that don't happen, such as if the front door doesn't open by 3:30 p.m. when the kids should be home from school. As an added benefit, most systems can tie in technology to control home appliances such as the thermostat, lights and door locks from afar. So you could set the system to turn on the light when that front door opens, or turn on the air conditioning when you're on your way home from work, says Ann Shaub, director of product management for Verizon.

Cheaper -- but is it better?

The services are typically cheaper than going through a dedicated security firm -- $10 to $40 per month instead of $30 to $75. But experts warn that consumers are likely getting less protection. More elaborate home security systems can monitor for threats as diverse as carbon monoxide and rising water levels that smart systems can't detect.

In addition, some telecoms' monitoring services only alert solely to you, without relaying an alarm in a central monitoring station that would call the police or fire department, says James Orvis, a past executive vice president of the Electronic Security Association and owner of Security Solutions in Norwalk, Conn. Miss the text that the door sensor tripped, and the police may not arrive in time to catch the burglar.

It's also added risk if you're at home during a fire, break-in or other emergency where calling for help yourself isn't easy or safe, he says.

On the other hand, alerts that go only to you limits the number of false alarms, which some police departments add a fine for responding to, Orvis says. Verizon's Shaub says Home Monitoring and Control, which doesn't use a central monitoring station, still provides peace of mind and keeps consumers in tune with what's going on in the house. At the very least, it's a way homeowners can keep tabs on their kids and pets.

Shoppers should also be careful to dig into package details to determine the full cost before signing up, says Chris McGoey, a Los Angeles-based security consultant. Telecom companies' $70 to $500 one-time equipment charge is typically for a basic kit with a monitoring station and a few sensors; consumers with a large house will need to buy extra equipment for thorough coverage. So will those who want remote control over more home devices.

Services may also charge extra for connectivity to a cellular network so alarms will sound even if the power goes out. "By the time you get the system that you really want, it costs you a heck of a lot more than the promotional offer," he says.

Consumers may have little recourse to change their mind, either: Some offers require a two-year service contract.

 

Comcast adds more markets across the country

In March, the telecom introduced its home automation/home security product in locations that included San Francisco, Connecticut and Utah, home of the summer-sales security companies
 - 
04/23/2012

PHILADELPHIA—March was an active month for Comcast as it launched its new home automation/home security service in a number of additional major markets across the country. Xfinity Home is now being offered in Atlanta, the San Francisco Bay area and parts of Connecticut and Vermont—and Utah.

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