It looks like a television remote, but Comcast xFi is the central hub of a smart home, according to the MSO.
Last week, Comcast gave its more than 15 million xFi customers the ability to automatically import the names of devices as they connect to a home's WiFi network instead of listing the device via its 12-character MAC address (which may as well be another language). And earlier this year it debuted a whole-home mesh network system to extend WiFi availability into hard-to-reach areas of an abode. (See Comcast Rolls Out xFi Pods Nationwide.)
A Family Affair
Using its own software across its xfinity platform, Comcast seeks stronger customer bonds, less churn and higher customer experience. (Source: Comcast)
"The underlying premise of xFi is not just about speed or just about WiFi from the gateway," Eric Schaefer, senior vice president and general manager of Broadband, Automation and Communications at Comcast Cable, told Broadband World News. "It's about bringing together speed, coverage and control. Underlying that -- and those are the principals a consumer would take from xFi -- is actually a broadband platform."
While Comcast and its subscribers refer to xFi as an "entertainment platform," the device also plays a supporting role. Literally. If there's a service disruption or dissatisfaction with service quality, the service goes beyond the router to provide Comcast with information on the network and everything that's attached, he said.
"It lets us get information, not just at the network level in the DOCSIS modem -- but to what's happening within the customer's home and the components of a gateway. When we were deploying third-party gateway without Comcast software, we didn't know what had a problem," Schaefer said. "We had absolutely no way of knowing those things. We now have this ability to have 15 million probes in our network and we're managing the very high expectations of our customers. When we use xFi to manage their in-home experience, we're actually building these tools so when agents answer their phone calls, they have the same view as the customer does."
Customer experience -- which historically has never been a strong point for cable or ISPs -- continues to be a critical area of focus, he said. Comcast employees made more than 1 million customer callbacks this year, executives mandated all managers regularly speak to customers and the operator invested hundreds of millions of dollars in a Net Promoter Score implementation, training and other strategies.
That's due, of course, to competitive pressure from other providers and the opportunities the home network affords. Creating a positive subscriber experience, whether customers use multiple services or simply purchase connectivity, is essential, said Schaefer.
"Of course, the core network has to be great, but the in-home network -- that last 100 feet that has been forgotten for so long -- that has to be perfect," he said. "The customer has to benefit from premises equipment that is powerful, built for speed -- and most critically, receive that speed in the home."
The industry organization's major initiatives will address broadband differentiation based on quality of experience, global test labs for services, 5G, multi-access strategies and more, say CEO Robin Mersh and CMO Geoff Burke in an interview with BBWN.
After NTIA asked for public comments on map improvements in October 2018, the FCC decommissioned the agency's broadband map in early December but did not say whether it will use any of the public's great ideas on its own (largely panned) map.
Mike Zeto, GM of AT&T's Smart Cities division, expects metro areas to adopt platforms to manage multi-departmental IoT solutions once internal processes are aligned and more agencies are involved in smart city applications.
Consumers are buying millions of IoT devices, from smart thermostats and security systems to intelligent entertainment setups and furniture. Yet many of these devices remain isolated because home users are uncomfortable connecting them to each other – or even their WiFi. After all, their WiFi network was probably designed only to handle a few laptops, a gaming system and a couple of smartphones. Now, demand on the network is surging and even though you're delivering 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps, that doesn't necessarily mean the broadband power is in the right place or reaches every corner of a home.
Even if WiFi coverage is sufficient, typing is not on trend. Voice is far more natural, easier and faster. Using a TV keyboard is archaic when more and more households have access to cloud-based voice services, like Amazon Alexa. This webinar will explore how service providers can create a comfortable, truly smart home for consumers – simultaneously driving up margin and loyalty.
Tune in to Broadband World News Radio on Thursday, November 1 at 8 a.m. PT, 11 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. UK as Ronan Kelly, CTO, EMEA & APAC Regions at ADTRAN, explores the five pillars of network integrity -- a topic he discussed during his recent Broadband World Forum keynote. Register now!