|Founded||2 April 1981|
|Key people||Neil Smit (CEO)
Ralph Roberts (Chairman)
Catherine Avgiris (CFO)
Comcast Cable Communications, LLC (d/b/a Xfinity) is the cable division of Comcast. Comcast Cable's CEO is Neil Smit, its chairman is Ralph J. Roberts, and its CFO is Catherine Avgiris. Comcast Cable went from $23.7 billion in revenue in 2007 to $48.1 billion in 2013.
In 2010, Comcast began promoting Xfinity, the company's rebranded trademark for triple play services in Comcast's largest markets, including the company's digital cable, cable Internet access, and cable telephone services and radio. Comcast Digital Cable was renamed "Xfinity TV", Comcast Digital Voice became "Xfinity Voice", and Comcast High Speed Internet became "Xfinity Internet". Comcast Business Services remains under the "Comcast" name. A marketing push involving the new Xfinity brand took place during the 2010 Winter Olympics coverage on NBC, which was in the early stages of a merger with Comcast.
The Xfinity rebranding has been controversial as a purported effort to sidestep the negativity of the Comcast brand. In February 2010, TIME listed Xfinity at number 2 in their Top 10 Worst Corporate Name Changes list.
Comcast is the largest provider of cable internet access in the US, servicing 40% of the market in 2011. As of Jun 30, 2013, Comcast has 19.986 million high-speed internet customers. According to the Comcast High Speed Internet terms of service, residential customers are provided with dynamic IP addresses. Comcast's "PowerBoost" delivers bursts for all but their highest-end and lowest-end tiers, allowing subscribers to use all excess cable node capacity to speed up the first few seconds of downloads.
Comcast began offering internet services in late 1996, when it helped found the @Home Network, which sold internet service through Comcast's cable lines. The agreement continued after @Home's merger with Excite. When the combined company Excite@Home filed for bankruptcy in 2002, Comcast moved their roughly 950,000 internet customers completely onto their own network.
Currently available Comcast High-Speed Internet Plans: (pricing and local availability varies slightly)
|Name||Download Speed||Upload Speed||DOCSIS Version||Price (excluding promotions)|
|Internet Essentials||5.0 Mbit/s||1.5 Mbit/s||$9.95/mo. (low income only)|
|Economy Plus||3.0 Mbit/s||768 kbit/s||1.1, 2.0, 3.0||$39.95/mo.|
|Performance Starter||6 Mbit/s||1 Mbit/s||1.1, 2.0, 3.0||$49.95/mo.|
|Performance||20-25 Mbit/s||4-5 Mbit/s||2.0, 3.0||$66.95/mo.|
|Blast!||50 Mbit/s||10 Mbit/s||3.0||$76.95/mo.|
|Extreme 105||105 Mbit/s||20 Mbit/s||3.0||$114.95/mo.|
|Extreme 505||505 Mbit/s||105 Mbit/s||Metro ethernet||$399.95/mo.|
Along with the price of internet subscriptions, Comcast charges users an additional $7.95/month to rent a cable modem. This fee has been seen by some as unfair, but is waived for customers who buy their own modems. Comcast charges $20 for internet installation, but the fee is waived for customers who opt to install themselves.
In 2011, Comcast launched its "Internet Essentials" program, which offers low-cost internet service to families with children who qualify for free or reduced price school lunches. The plan launched at $10 per month, with discounts on a computer and free training are also provided. The FCC required this budget service as a condition for allowing Comcast's acquisition of NBCUniversal in January 2011. Of an estimated 2.60 million households eligible for the program, about 0.22 million households participate in the program as of June 2013. A similar program is available from other internet providers through the non-profit Connect2compete.org. Comcast has stated that the program will accept new customers for a total of three years. In March 2014, as he met with FCC concerning the Time Warner Cable merger, Comcast vice president David Cohen told reporters that the internet essentials program will be extended indefinitely.
Initially, Comcast had policy of terminating broadband customers who use "excessive bandwidth", a term the company refused to define in its terms of service, which once said only that a customer's use should not "represent (in the sole judgment of Comcast) an overly large burden on the network". Company responses to press inquiries suggest a limit of several hundred gigabytes per month. In September 2007, Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas said the company defines "excessive use" as the equivalent of 30,000 songs, 250,000 pictures or 13 million emails in a month. Other company statements have said the limit varied from month to month, depending on the capacity of specific CMTS's, and that it affected only the top one-thousandth of high-speed Internet customers.
Comcast introduced a 250 GB monthly data transfer cap to its broadband service on October 1, 2008, combining both upload and download towards the monthly limit. If a user exceeds the cap three times within six months, the customer's residential services may be terminated for one year. A spokesperson stated that this policy had been in place for some time, but was the first time Comcast has announced a specific usage limit.
As the cap provoked a strongly negative reaction from some, Comcast decided to modify its policy in 2012. Under the new system, the cap was increased to 300GB, and consumers who exceed the limit are charged $10 for every 50GB above the limit.
Network management and peering
In September 2007, a rumor emerged among tech blogs that Comcast was throttling or even blocking internet traffic transmitted via the BitTorrent protocol. Comcast vehemently denied the accusations of blocking traffic, stating that "Comcast does not, has not, and will not block any Web sites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services", and that "We engage in reasonable network management". After more widespread confirmation that Comcast was throttling BitTorrent traffic, Comcast said it occasionally delayed BitTorrent traffic in order to speed up other kinds of data, but declined to go into specifics. Following the announcement of an official investigation by the FCC, Comcast voluntarily ended the traffic discrimination. The FCC investigation concluded that Comcast's throttling policies were illegal. However, after filing a lawsuit in September 2008, Comcast overturned the illegality of its network management in 2010, as the court ruled that the FCC lacked the authority to enforce net neutrality under the FCC's current regulatory policy. The court suggested instead of its current framework, the FCC move to a common carrier structure to justify its enforcement. As of February 2014, the FCC has announced a new justification, but avoided the more extensive regulation required by the common carrier framework.
In 2010, Netflix signed an agreement with Level 3 Communications to carry its data. Shortly after, Level 3 entered a heated dispute concerning whether Level 3 would have to pay Comcast to bridge their respective networks, in an agreement known as peering. The disagreement continued as Netflix's current carrier, Cogent Communications, explicitly placed blame for Netflix bottlenecks on Comcast and several other ISPs. In February 2014, after rumors surfaced that Comcast and Netflix had reached an unspecified agreement, the companies confirmed that Netflix was paying Comcast to connect to its network. The details of the agreement are not public, and speculation disagrees about whether the agreement is a precedent against net neutrality, or a continuation of normal peering agreements.
Land line telephone
Comcast Digital Voice, now known as Xfinity Voice, is a telephone product offered by Comcast Corporation. Comcast offers CDV in both residential and business class and is packaged with Xfinity. The service was launched in 2005 in select markets, before being extended to all of Comcast's markets.
Xfinity Voice allows communication over the internet using VoIP, but uses a private network instead of a public IP address, which allows Comcast to prioritize the voice data during heavy traffic. In technical terms, on Comcast's Hybrid Fiber Coaxial network, calls are placed into individual Unsolicited Grant Service flows, based on DOCSIS 1.1 Quality of service standards. For the customer, this has the benefit of preventing network congestion from interfering with call quality. However, this separation of traffic into separate flows, or Smart pipe, has been seen by some as a violation of net neutrality, who call instead for equal treatment of all data, or dumb pipe. Other, non-Comcast VoIP services on Comcast's network must use the lower priority public IP addresses. The practice was questioned by the FCC in 2009. In their response, Comcast stated that services that use telecommunications are not necessarily telecommunications services, and noted the FCC's current designation of Comcast Digital Voice as an information service exempted it from telecommunications service regulations. Comcast also said that because Comcast Voice was a separate service, it was unfair to directly compare the data for Comcast Voice with the data for other VoIP services.
Because telephone services over VoIP are not automatically tied to a physical address, Xfinity Voice utilizes E911 to help 911 service operators to automatically locate the source of the 911 call. Voice calls are delivered as a digital stream over the Comcast network, signal is converted to analog plain old telephone service lines at the cable modem, which outputs on standard analog RJ-11 jacks.
After trial runs in 2005, Comcast rolled out its Digital Voice service to all its markets in 2006. Comcast's older service, Comcast Digital Phone, continued to offer service for a brief period, until Comcast shut it down around late 2007. In 2009, after completing transition from their old service, Comcast had 7.6 million voice customers. As of the end of 2013, Comcast Digital Voice had reached 10.7 million subscribers.
Comcast has transitioned from traditional land line service to VoIP style delivery. Beginning in 2005, Comcast launched its VoIP service, Comcast Digital Voice. As of the end of 2013, Comcast has 10.7 million voice customers.
|Name||Description||Price (excluding promotions)|
|Voice Local With More||Unlimited local calls, long distance 5¢/min. inside the US||$34.95/mo.|
|Voice Unlimited||Unlimited calls inside the US||$44.95/mo.|
Comcast's cable television customers peaked in 2007, with about 24.8 million customers. Since then, Comcast has lost customers every year, with the first quarterly gain in customers since their peak occurring in the fourth quarter of 2013. As of the end of 2013, Comcast serves a total of 21.7 million cable customers. The average cost Comcast's Digital Basic cable subscription has increased from $39.04 in 2003 to $67.49 in 2012.
2012 pricing: (taken from Scranton, PA, varies slightly by region)
|Limited Basic||Local channels only||$20.99/mo.|
|Expanded Basic||30-50 channels||$48.96/mo.|
|Digital Starter||Around 80 channels||$69.95/mo.|
|Digital Preferred||Around 160 channels||$87.90/mo.|
|Total Premium||Around 200 channels||$142.95/mo.|
In addition to the prices of subscriptions, since July 2012, Comcast charges a Regulatory Recovery Fee of varying size in order to "recover additional costs associated with governmental programs." Beginning in January 2014, Comcast also charges a $1.50 Broadcast TV Fee to “defray the rising costs of retransmitting broadcast television signals.”
Beginning in the mid 2000s, television stations increasingly required cable companies like Comcast to pay retransmission fees in exchange for permission to broadcast their content. (Historically, TV broadcasters made money almost exclusively through advertising.) These fees have been the subject of heated negotiation between broadcasters and distributors, with a few high profile blackouts prompting the FCC to publicly express serious concern in 2011. Comcast currently has ten year agreements with CBS and Disney, as well as deals with Fox and others, but the financial details of these deals are not public. Based on professional estimates, ESPN charges $5.06 to transmit their channel per viewer. However, most channels charge much less.
Since the rise of retransmission fees, distributors like Comcast pay substantial fees for retransmitting broadcast television, which is free over the air for consumers. Comcast has instated a $1.50 Broadcast TV Fee to cover part of the cost of getting permission from stations to retransmit the free stations, itemized separately for consumers. Comcast's subsidiary, NBCUniversal, is one of several broadcasters currently in legal dispute with Aereo, over the question of whether the company is a retransmitter (which would require it to pay retransmission fees). The case is currently set to appear before the US Supreme Court.
Home security and automation
Comcast now offers a home security and home automation service known as Xfinity Home, in some of its service areas. This service provides residential customers a monitored burglar and fire alarm, surveillance cameras, and home automation.
In addition to residential consumers, Comcast also serves businesses as customers, targeting both small businesses with fewer than 20 employees and also mid-sized businesses of 20–500 employees. In 2009, Minneapolis–Saint Paul became the first city in which Comcast Business Class offered 100 Mbit/s Internet service, which includes Microsoft Communication Services. Comcast Business Class Internet service does not have a bandwidth usage cap.
Comcast Business services were initially sold exclusively through direct sales employees. In March 2011, Comcast created an indirect sales channel called the Solution Provider Program, a comprehensive indirect channel program that enables telecommunications consultants and system integrators to sell Comcast’s services such as Business Class Internet, Voice, and high-capacity Ethernet services to small and mid-market businesses. The program offers recurring commissions for sales partners based on monthly revenue, and Comcast will provide, install, manage and bill for these services. For the initial launch of the Solutions Provider Program, Comcast enlisted three national master representatives—Telarus, based in Salt Lake City, Utah; Intelisys, based in Petaluma, California; and Telecom Brokerage Inc (TBI), based in Chicago. Sub-agent sales partners must work with one of these three partners in the early stages of the program. The head of the Comcast Business indirect sales channel is Craig Schlagbaum, former head of the Level 3 Communications channel.
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