June 23, 2022

Comcast’s cable TV joins Apple TV 

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Comcast’s Xfinity Stream app replaced the old Xfinity TV set up in 2017, allowing cable TV subscribers to pull up live channels, DVR content, and on-demand video now; it’s available in the App Store on Apple TV boxes.

Comcast and Apple announced a deal last October to make this happen, as well as an Apple TV Plus app for Comcast’s X1 platform, which launched in March for compatible cable boxes, Xfinity Flex, and XClass Smart TVs. Other platforms with the Xfinity Stream app include Roku, Amazon Fire, LG smart TVs, and Samsung smart TVs.

Comcast’s Xfinity Stream app with live TV and DVR content is available on Apple TV. Comcast senior VP of strategic development Michael DelCiello said in a statement that “With today’s launch of the Stream app on Apple TV, our customers now have a new device option for accessing their Xfinity TV subscription in the home, and they will be the first to enjoy a new, streamlined UI designed to make it easier to find something to watch – whether that means getting back to a favorite show or movie or finding something new.” Of course, whether or not that UI is streamlined enough is open for debate, and we’re always looking for a better way to binge-watch.

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Xfinity Voice is a landline telephone service launched in 2005 in select markets and all of Comcast’s needs in 2006. In addition, Comcast’s more aging service, Comcast Digital Phone, offered assistance for a brief period until Comcast shut it down around late 2007. In 2009, after completing the transition from their old service, Comcast had 7.6 million voice customers. As of 2013, Comcast Digital Voice had reached 10.7 million subscribers.

At the start of 2012, Comcast was the United States’ third-largest residential telephone provider. At that time, the company delivered 9.34 million residential telephone lines.

Xfinity Voice permits communication over the internet using VoIP but uses a private network instead of a public IP address, allowing Comcast to prioritize the voice data during heavy traffic. In technical phrases, on Comcast’s Hybrid Fiber Coaxial network, calls are put into individual Unsolicited Grant Service streams based on DOCSIS 1.1 Quality of service standards. For the customer, this has the advantage of preventing network congestion from meddling with call quality.

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This separation of gridlock into separate flows, or Smart pipe, has been noticed by some as a violation of net neutrality. It calls instead for equal treatment of all data or dumb pipe. As a result, other non-Comcast VoIP services on Comcast’s network must use the lower priority public IP addresses. The FCC questioned the practice in 2009. In their response, Comcast noted that services that utilize telecommunications are not necessarily telecommunications services and documented that the FCC’s current designation of Comcast Digital Voice as a news service exempted it from telecommunications service regulations. Comcast also said that as Comcast Voice was a separate service, it was unjust to directly approximate the data for Comcast Voice with the details for other VoIP services.

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Because telephone services over VoIP are not automatically tied to a physical address, Xfinity Voice uses E911 to help 911 service operators automatically uncover the source of the 911 call. Voice calls are furnished as a digital stream over the Comcast network; the signal is transformed to analog plain old telephone service lines at the cable modem, which outputs on standard analog RJ-11 jacks.

Comcast’s cable television clients peaked in 2007 with about 24.8 million customers. Comcast has lost customers every year since. However, the first quarterly customer gain since their peak occurred in the fourth quarter of 2013. As of the end of 2013, Comcast owned 21.7 million cable customers. The average price of Comcast’s Digital Basic cable subscription had risen 72% from 2003 to 2012. In the last quarter of 2015, Comcast got 89,000 new video subscribers. It was their loftiest gain since 2007.

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Comcast also charges a Regulatory Recovery Fee of variable size(s) with their Digital Basic cable subscription to “recover additional costs associated with governmental programs.” In addition, since January 2014, Comcast has also charged a Broadcast TV Fee to “defray the rising costs of retransmitting broadcast television signals.”

Beginning in the mid-2000s, the prices of retransmission fees and requirements for cable companies to retransmit television broadcasters’ content have become more expensive. These fees (and the arguments between broadcasters and distributors) caused blackouts of specific television programming. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission then reviewed its rules for broadcasters and distributors to make possible changes in response to the high-profile blackouts. Comcast has had ten-year agreements with CBS Disney and Fox Broadcasting Company for distributing and reproducing content. The financial details of the deals are not known.

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Due to retransmission fees becoming more expensive every year, broadcasters pay more expensive substantial fees for retransmitting broadcast television. Comcast instated the Broadcast TV Fee to gain lost profit from paying more expensive fees to retransmit programming content. Comcast’s subsidiary, NBCUniversal, was one of several broadcasters party to American Broadcasting Cos. v. Aereo, Inc., over whether Aereo is a retransmitter. The case was decided on June 25, 2014, in favor of the broadcasters in a 6–3 decision.

Comcast has home security and home automation service known as Xfinity Home in some of its service areas. The service has a burglar and fire alarm, surveillance cameras, and wireless motion sensors on doorways and windows to detect when said doorway or window was opened and to see when someone was in a place when it was vacant. However, Xfinity Home had an exposure that, when exploited, falsely said that all was well. In addition, the wireless motion sensors Xfinity Home used could also be easily jammed and thus disabled by radio frequencies.

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On April 6, 2017, Comcast launched Xfinity Mobile, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) on the Verizon mobile network.

Xfinity Mobile provides prepaid (with users able to purchase data in 1 GB bundles), and monthly unlimited plans, with the latter throttled after 20 GB of use. The service is sold exclusively to Comcast internet subscribers. Access to Xfinity WiFi hotspots is also included, which is promoted to help conserve bandwidth caps.

Analysts perceived Xfinity Mobile as responding to AT&T’s acquisition of DirecTV, adding the national satellite provider alongside its current wireline and wireless services, and an improved push towards mobile TV. In the third semester of 2018, Xfinity Mobile outperformed 1 million subscribers. On May 18, 2020, Xfinity Mobile revealed plans with 5G data.

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