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There’s a quiet buzz going around the internet about Comcast’s renewed interest in the “Internet of Things” (IoT). Those who aren’t up-to-date with tech terminology may be feeling lost. IoT refers to the interconnectivity of items using wireless technology and an intelligent hub.
For cord cutters, IoT technology can involve Alexa and all of the devices that allow Amazon to impact their environment. Anyone who’s used their smart phone to lock or unlock their doors, turn on lights, or used voice commands in their home has experienced IoT. The idea has really taken off with the introduction of semi-artificial intelligence, and its expanding capabilities.
In January, Comcast announced its plans to use the X1 platform as a springboard for whole home connectivity to go along with it's home security system. An earlier report by Variety described some of the cable giant’s efforts to transform their internet service into an IoT powerhouse.
“The goal, for Comcast, is to get embedded into customers’ homes through the different IoT devices and provide useful features so they’ll be less likely to switch providers,” writes Todd Spangler of Variety.
The company plans to extend their services into every facet of consumers’ lives—creating an IoT that will follow them from their home, to their car, to their business, and back again. Comcast wants Xfinity customers to become so dependent on their platform that they won’t want to function without the X1 IoT.
This effort will also expand the products that Comcast will market to act as complementary features to their IoT system. In 2017, Comcast acquired a tech startup called Stringify which amplified their capabilities. They’ve partnered to create an integrative IoT dubbed “Works with Xfinity” that’s already been partially introduced to subscribers.
New IoT features are scheduled for release this year at the end of the first quarter. Consumers are skeptical about the usability of the new system, and many have voiced privacy concerns. With all of their technological eggs in one basket, a data breach could allow hackers a direct line into every aspect of a person’s life.
There’s also a technological deficit that many subscribers won’t be able to meet, making these new IoT features a non-issue. Some fear that they’ll be stuck paying an inflated bill to cover services that they can’t use.
Comcast is rapidly losing customers to streaming services and online television. This may be their last-ditch effort to hang onto as many subscribers as possible while cord cutting continues to gain traction. With Amazon offering comparative technology through devices like Alexa, Comcast may be fighting an uphill battle.
Patricia Howard is a freelance journalist and Netflix enthusiast from rural Indiana. She has a bachelor's degree in communication with a concentration in journalism. When Patricia isn't writing, she enjoys catching up on her favorite shows with her husband and seven children.
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