Comcast’s new Xfinity xFi system creates a base to connect and control a home’s iPads, smart lights and other internet of things devices.
“This is about giving people connectivity and visibility and making it as simple as possible,” said Chris Satchell, Comcast’s chief product officer.
Connecting all of them is as simple as taking a picture with a smartphone, which Comcast shared in a demonstration at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year.
The majority of Americans have access to broadband and people who pay Comcast for internet outnumber those who pay for video, the cable provider is rolling out a service Monday that has nothing to do with cable TV. It wants to make it easier for customers to use internet securely at home.
Often, IoT products come with their own mobile apps and different levels of security. Home-internet gateways, from Wink to Samsung SmartThings, help homeowners control most of their IoT devices on one app. According to market researcher IHS, the number of IoT devices is multiplying at double-digit rates each year, from an estimated 20.35 billion this year to 75.4 billion in 2025.
But Comcast is using its might to get more of its customers not only to a connected home, but one that is connected securely. The system monitors activity and defends against phishing and malware. On either an app or a big TV, consumers can tweak parental settings, create family profiles and even figure out which devices aren’t working.
“This is also for your phones, laptops and what you really need it for, all those IoT devices. They don’t have keyboards. This really helps those devices from reaching out to malware sites. It’s an added layer of security on top of the firewall,” Satchell said.
At launch on Monday, 10 million customers who already have existing Comcast Wi-Fi — either the xFi Wireless Gateway or the xFi Advanced Wireless Gateway — will have access to the service. The newest model, the X6, is available to customers who order Comcast’s gigabit internet service. The service is included in the cost of leasing a gateway, which currently is $10 a month.