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Comcast Cable Communications is the cable television division of Comcast. The division primarily markets its consumer-oriented services under the brand Xfinity. Comcast Cable’s CEO is Neil Smit, its chairman is Brian L. 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”. 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 June 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 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.
In early 2013, Comcast began broadcasting hotspot services using XFINITY branded equipment from customer’s homes. Specifically this XFINITY branded equipment is the combination cable modem and router that the customer needs to access the internet. This is the situation for every customer unless they provide their own equipment. These combination cable modem/routers are used to provide other Comcast subscribers with free WiFi access at over 500,000 locations across the United States.
XFINITY WIFI has been an issue because the cable modem/router equipment that Comcast provides to residential customers in their homes not only provides WiFi access to the customer, but also transmits a separate WiFi channel labeled “xfinitywifi”. It is this “xfinitywifi” channel that provides the XFINITY WIFI to other Comcast subscribers. Because the XFINITY modem/router equipment in the customer’s home is now supporting both the customer’s private WiFi capability, and, a public hot spot there are both security, privacy, and performance concerns. Comcast claims customers’ internet speeds are not affected by the hotspot feature being enabled on their equipment and may opt-out of the program anytime.
Customers can begin using XFINITY WiFi before installation of their service.
Initially, Comcast had a 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 suggested a limit of several hundred gigabytes per month. In September 2007, Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas said the company defined “excessive use” as the equivalent of 30,000 songs, 250,000 pictures or 13 million emails in a month.
Comcast introduced a 250 GB monthly bandwidth cap to its broadband service on October 1, 2008, combining both upload and download towards the monthly limit. If a user exceeded the cap three times within six months, the customer’s residential services may have been 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 in some markets, and consumers who exceed this limit are charged $10 for every 50 GB above the limit. Customers could purchase a $30 add-on for “unlimited” data. In a leaked memo, Comcast employees were instructed to state that the policy is for “Fairness and providing a more flexible policy to our customers”, and not for controlling network congestion.
On April 27, 2016, Comcast announced that it would raise its data cap in trial markets to 1 TB by June 2016; the company stated that “more than 99 percent of our customers do not come close to using a terabyte.” The decision to raise the cap came following an implication of increased scrutiny surrounding them by the FCC: in its approval of Charter Communications’ purchase of Time Warner Cable, the Commission stipulated that Charter must not implement caps. As previously, a $10 overage fee is charged for every 50 GB above the limit, and customers can purchase an add-on for “unlimited” data, but its price was increased to $50. In October 2016, Comcast announced that bandwidth caps would be implemented in the majority of its markets (outside of New York and the northeast) beginning November 1, 2016. The data usage plan does not currently apply to the Gigabit Pro tier of service, Business Internet customers, customers on Bulk Internet agreements, and customers with Prepaid Internet.