Cablefax The Magazine - July 2018 - 10
201 8 TOP OPS AWARDS
MSO PRODUCT LAUNCH OF THE YEAR
Sometimes a product launch is just a product launch. And sometimes,
it's a beacon of a cultural evolution for a company.
Such is the case with Comcast's Xfinity xFi, a personalized digital
dashboard that enables customers to execute and manage
tasks such as setting up their home WiFi network, finding their
password, seeing what devices are connected and for how long,
troubleshooting issues and setting parental controls.
xFi debuted last spring, but it has been in the works since 2014
when Comcast did a deep dive into ethnographic research and
data culled during home visits to determine how customers were
using WiFi and what pain points rose to the top. The research
revealed an overarching theme: " We had to do better. On the path
we were on, we were not going to be able to deliver an exceptional
consumer experience, " says Eric Schaefer, svp of Internet and
Communications services for Comcast Cable. " And at that point
we were thinking of 15 devices in the home, not the 50 we're
projecting going forward. "
Such was the genesis of what the company then called Smart Internet
and segued into xFi, whose secret sauce isn't each of the disparate elements
it enables but rather the holistic wireless control it offers to actual
humans, doing actual human things with the service. " The pillars of
speed, coverage and control are all replicable, " Schaefer tells Cablefax.
" The underlying key all of this is built on is that no one has ever given
customers a holistic offering... and that's what makes xFi different. "
Baked into the xFi experience are three essential components, says
Sri Solur, svp, product & development, Xfinity Home, IOT, and Data
Services: interconnected devices, the ability to incorporate a voice
component to every feature, and the element of artificial intelligence.
" We are moving from a world where things are being done by you
to a world where things are being done for you. For that to happen,
we want to make sure there are components of machine intelligence
incorporated into the system, and that's a continuous process, " he
uxFi launched May 8, 2017.
uCurrently Comcast counts 15 million xFi enabled
gateways, and more than 1 million customers per month
engaging with the application.
uComcast predicts this year, 86% of in-home broadband
use will travel over WiFi and by 2020 Americans will have
an average of 50 WiFi connected devices in their homes.
Making xFi even more consumer-friendly is its ability to evolve in real
time. " Two years ago we were doing four new releases a year. Today
we do a release of some sort on the xFi platform every four days.
Instantly, " Solur says. " That's how agile we have become. " Recent
upgrades include voice integration for functions such as password
recovery and pausing in " dinner time " mode, as well as the ability for
parents to set limits and receive notifications regarding the amount of
time their kids are spending on the network.
As part of the xFi launch, Comcast renamed its most popular wireless
gateway device, currently available in 15 million homes, the xFi Wireless
Gateway and introduced a new xFi Advanced Gateway to customers
on the fastest speed tiers. The xFi Advanced Gateway is now the
primary device Comcast uses to provide 1 gig speeds to customers
and is capable of delivering gigabit speeds over WiFi and supports
Xfinity Voice, home security and automation applications.
As the company upgrades more of its devices to support xFi and
rolls out the xFi Advanced Gateway to more people, it's employing
no-configuration, adaptive xFi pods that can be paired with either the
xFi Wireless Gateway or the xFi Advanced Gateway to help customers
extend their WiFi coverage. It also made an investment in Plume, a
developer of distributed WiFi software and systems to aid in unifying
the consumer experience.
The fourth quarter promises the introduction of some automation features
the xFi team talked up at last year's CES, according to Schaefer,
who says, " The platform xFi represents underlies everything we do
within the digital home. " n
- Cathy Applefeld Olson
Cablefax: The Magazine
Cablefax The Magazine - July 2018
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