Comcast Pitching Home-PC Connections for $15

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Comcast Corp. last week unveiled Comcast Home Networking — its high-speed-based home networking strategy — which offers consumers the ability to link up five PCs, enjoy speeds of up to 4 Megabits per second downstream and 384 kilobits upstream, plus provide network security, professional installation, service and 24/7 customer support for $15 a month beyond their high-speed Internet charge.

The MSO is using routers from Linksys Group Inc. and Netgear Inc. on a platform that is certified under the CableHome 1.0 specification.

“In speaking with consumers, we learned that many are afraid of home networking and hesitate taking that initial step,” said Greg Butz, Comcast Online’s senior vice president of marketing,. “We knew we needed to make it simple, and we needed to make it fun.”

NO HEADACHES

Some consumers have set up their own home networks, but for others it can be too much of headache to tackle. That’s where Comcast hopes to make a difference, Butz said.

“We provide all the benefits without all the challenges,” he said.

“This is the first Cable Home certified platform,” said Comcast director of home service engineering Mark Francisco, and it will be available to the MSO’s more than 5 million high-speed subscribers.

“Based on limited marketing, the responses have been enthusiastic,” Francisco said. “The early adopters have done their own networks,” he said, while the new initiative is built for those who haven’t taken the plunge.

Butz said the home-networking feature will be marketed through Comcast’s traditional sales channels, including call centers, telemarketing, its Web site and kiosks.

The company is talking to retailers now about how those outlets fit into the strategy.

Francisco played a key role in CableHome development at Cable Television Laboratories Inc. and heads Comcast’s trial efforts with advanced home-networking applications.

“There is more and more interest in moving content around the home,” he said, including data applications for entertainment systems.

“That led us to joining MOCA (Multimedia Over Cable Alliance) and the HomePlug alliance,” he said. HomePlus uses a home home’s internal electrical wiring to transfer content around, while MOCA applications use the coax built into the walls.

EXISTING CONDUITS

“HomePlug has applications in basic data networking,” he said. “It’s a nice complimentary technology for wireless.”

The MSO has begun a HomePlug trial with Intellon Corp.

Right now, Francisco has no favorites among the technologies he’s testing, but likes the idea of “using the conduits that already exist to carry all these services.”

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