In this article, we will see the answer to the question ‘Who Owns Xfinity?’.
Introduction to Xfinity
Xfinity is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation and is used to market Comcast Cable Communications’ cable, internet, wireless, and telephone services. These services were provided under the trade name Xfinity after the latter was introduced by Comcast Cable Communications, LLC in 2010. Prior to that, these services were marketed under the brand Comcast.
Comcast did not have exactly a favorable image with its customers and the name change was an effort on the company’s part to change their customers’ perception of the brand. Time deemed this name change as a bad decision, saying it would not work even though it will sound better when you are on hold by their customer service. However, Xfinity has played a big role in the rebranding of Comcast.
Xfinity’s revenue generation has constantly increased with time. In 2007, the subsidiary generated a revenue of $23.7 billion which increased to $50.04 billion by 2016. Xfinity is currently led by Dave Watson, the company’s CEO; Catherine Avgiris, the CFO; and Brian L. Roberts, the chairman.
Comcast first began offering internet services in the previous century, by the second half of 1994. @Home Network’s founding was aided by Comcast and its internet services were subsequently provided by Comcast through its cable lines. Comcast continued providing this service even after @Home merged with Excite. In 2002, Excite@Home, the combined company, filed for bankruptcy. By then, Comcast had developed its own network and moved their 950,000 customers seeking internet service to it.
One of the drawbacks of opting for Comactst’s internet services was its steep price and additional charges. Along with the standard fees for internet connection, Comcast also asked for $14.00 a month as rental charges for a cable modem. The charge was waived if customers bought their own modems. The internet installation itself was priced at $20 and was waived if the customer chose to install their connection by themselves.
Comcast earned strong criticism for its practice of capping its in-home internet service at 5 devices connected simultaneously. The company was criticized for wasting customer resources like electricity and bandwidth. There were also security concerns expressed by users which is why a class-action lawsuit was filed against the company. In 2014, California saw the class-action lawsuit filed against Comcast on the basis of alleged violations of the Abuse Act and Computer Fraud.
Rebranding and Xfinity
By February 2010, Comcast saw an opportunity of re-branding and took it. Their services were officially renamed under the brand Xfinity and marketed as such. The “Xfinity TV”, “Xfinity Voice”, and “Xfinity Internet”, respectively replaced Comcast’s Digital Cable service, Digital Voice service, and Comcast’s High-Speed Internet service. This rebranding was kept at a time when the marketing opportunity would be at its peak and coincided with the 2010 Winter Olympics.
As of 2011, Comcast was the largest cable internet access provider in the entire United States and was providing service to 40% of the market. The following year, Comcast was the third largest residential telephone provider in the United States. The company was then responsible for providing 9.34 million residential telephone lines across the country. Comcast was providing high-speed internet services to 26.5 million customers by July 2018.
The Xfinity Services
The Comcast brand took on a new identity with Xfinity and has been sticking to it and going strong ever since. Comcast Digital Voice was launched to a limited customer base in 2005 as a landline telephone service. By the following year, the service was offered to all of Comcast’s customers. After the birth of Xfinity, it was renamed Xfinity Voice.
The Comcast Digital Phone continued for a while until it was shut down in 2007. Within two years, Comcast had succeeded in making the transition from their old service and recorded over 7.6 million customers. This number had increased to 10.7 million customers by 2013.
The rebranding did not happen all at once. Xfinity Mobile was launched in 2017 as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). It became the fourth aspect of the quadruple play of Comcast services, already including cable TV, internet, and phone services. Xfinity TV was upgraded to Xfinity X1 which provides television services but is more in line with supporting streaming apps.
Under the label Xfinity WiFi, Comcast operates a network of hotspots publicly placed and also provides its services to businesses. The xFi was launched in May 2017 and has since seen many developments.
Xfinity Voice provides customers digital voice service by using VoIP, allowing communication through an internet connection. Xfinity Voice uses a private network to provide this service instead of a public IP address which allows for smooth transmission even during times of heavy traffic. This is done so the customer does not have to compromise over call quality in case of network congestion.
Comcast still came across some controversy when some people argued that this practice violated the set rules of net neutrality. The network traffic is separated into different channels so that the quality remains optimal and the people called for the data online to be treated the same whether network congestion was a factor or not.
Even though the customers using Xfinity Voice via Comcast’s network were benefiting from good call quality, the others were offered a different set of services. The customers who were using the Comcast network through other VoIP services were made to use the public IP addresses. This practice indirectly promoted Comcast’s own Xfinity Voice and prioritized certain customers over others.
FCC questioned this practice in 2009 and Comcast countered with a loophole. The company stated that as per the FCC designation itself, the Comcast Digital Voice was an information service and was therefore exempted from all the rules that applied to a company providing telecommunications services. Another pointer was that Comcast Voice’ data cannot be compared to the data of other VoIP services as it was a separate service altogether.
The Xfinity Mobile was launched in April 2017. Being an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator), Xfinity Mobile operates on the Verizon Wireless network. It became the fourth service in Comcast’s quadruple play.
This service was considered to have been launched as a competing service to DirecTV being acquired by AT&T. This acquisition brought AT&T to the realm of national satellite providers along with its existing wireless and wireline services. This would allow for the company to expand into mobile television.
Xfinity Mobile offers prepaid services and is exclusively made available to Comcast’s television and internet subscribers as an added bonus by their service provider. The plans offered by Xfinity Mobile are prepaid and users can purchase data in bundles of 1 GB. Monthly unlimited plans are also offered which are capped at 20 GB per month. Users who already use Comcast’s television and internet services are privy to discounts making them the “Triple Play” subscribers.
Xfinity Mobile is working well within the country and passed the mark of 1 million subscribers in the second half of 2018. In May 2020, the company’s plans to introduce 5G service to their lineup were announced and new data plans were to be introduced to accommodate the service.
The Xfinity WiFi is a Comcast-operated network of public WiFi hotspots for internet subscribers on the Xfinity network. For customers who subscribe to Xfinity Mobile are offered free access to Xfinity Wifi hotspots, meant to attract customers while conserving bandwidth caps.
The network of WiFi hotspots is located in many public places along with many businesses. There are also some Xfinity home gateways that are installed on an opt-out condition. The Xfinity home gateways are dual-band and operate on a private and public level simultaneously. The SSID for the public network is “xfinitywifi.” and can be accessed by any Xfinity user in the vicinity.
The users can connect to any public hotspots but the users who are on the ‘Performance’ tier or a level higher than that are allowed unlimited usage after they log into their Xfinity account. With the home gateways, the number of users who can access the network is capped at five to conserve bandwidth. The owner of the network can opt through the Comcast website or can choose to install a third-party router.
This idea of conserving bandwidth by capping the number of users attracted wide criticism and also a class action lawsuit. Customers felt cheated and felt it violated the California state laws of Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Comcast countered that the users connected to the private network and the public network were separated by a firewall. This firewall was said to have a low influence on the network bandwidth so that users could enjoy high-speed internet facilities. The idea of tracing the actions of the users to their IP address was also refuted by the company as any user could be traced based on their signing in into their Xfinity account.
Xfinity is thus an umbrella brand that offers a wide variety of services ranging from cable television, VoIP, WiFi to phone services. Comcast took a great step in rebranding its services under its subsidiary Xfinity and has been providing its services to an increasing customer base ever since.