The cable and Internet provider Comcast is a news frequenter. Controversial customer service is a hobby of theirs, but their biggest action lately was the acquisition of competing cable and Internet provider Time Warner Cable. Since the acquisition Comcast has caught media attention for their deal with Netflix, the on-demand Internet streaming media provider, and implementation of home hot spots.
Comcast and Netflix contracted a deal that supposedly benefits customers. Netflix agreed to pay Comcast an undisclosed sum to directly connect their network with Comcast’s servers. Netflix has been labeling the deal as a benefit to the long-term subscriber experience. The agreement will improve streaming speed for customers during “peak period usage times.”
The fact that Netflix had to pay Comcast to supply their service has cable and Internet customers worried. The term net neutrality is a major topic that has been hit by public forum. Net neutrality is the belief that Internet service providers must treat all Internet data equally. For example, a violation of this principle would be if Comcast began favoring Bleacher Report by forcing customers to pay for ESPN content and not Bleacher Report. This would economically attract more customers to Bleacher Report.
People were getting worried that Comcast forced Netflix to pay a sum so that their services could be provided through Comcast Internet. Netflix states that this is not the case and no rules of net neutrality have been violated. The incremental cost endured by Netflix is for the customer and also not impacting company growth. The deal with Netflix is not the only Comcast story catching news; the implementation of home spots is another important initiative by the ISP.
A market test has started in the Chicago-area where hundreds of thousands of homes have had home hot spot service installed.
Two Wi-Fi signals will be sent out from the same Comcast home equipment. One signal is for private use by the home residents and the second is a hot spot where variable subscribers can access the Internet. Comcast guarantees that the two signals will be 100 percent separate so no privacy or speed issues will be jeopardized. Home residents will also have the option to turn off their public signal sharing.
Hot spot subscribers will have to create an account with Xfinity. Non subscribers will receive two hours free per month and subscribers will have the option of rates that range from $2.95 per hour to $19.95 per week.
Comcast is looking to capitalize on a burgeoning Wi-Fi market. Wi-Fi has blossomed since mobile device popularity has increased combined with cellular service providers now charging for data use. A glimpse into the market shows that 57 percent of mobile data in 2013 was accessed through Wi-Fi and 19 percent of all media time was spent on mobile devices. Mobile data traffic is expected to increase, according to Cisco.
The initiatives by Comcast are fresh to the market so results of their success are not definite yet. There is no question that Comcast is attempting to capitalize on an evolving technology market with their Netflix deal and implementation of home hot spots.
Opinion by Niles Olson