Comcast Tacks On xFi Features

‘Timed Pause,’ enhanced parental controls added to MSO’s WiFi management platform
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Comcast said it has begun to add features to xFi, a cloud-based home WiFi management platform that the cable operator rolled out in May that enables users to view their WiFi names and passwords, monitor network activity and troubleshoot connection issues

Among the new features is “Timed Pause.” xFi was launched with the ability to pause home WiFi access, but the new capability lets users pause access in specific increments – 30 minutes, one hour, or two hours.

“We think it will be a convenient option for parents who want to get their kids to go outside and play, clean their rooms, or go read a book instead of staring at a screen,” Eric Schaefer, Comcast’s SVP and GM of communications, data and mobility services, explained in this blog post.

xFi is also enhancing a Parental Controls component to include protective search settings for Google, Bing and YouTube that limit access to inappropriate or mature images, videos and search results. Parents can enable those third-party settings to specific user profiles that have the xFi Parental Controls option enabled.

Also new to xFi is a Notification Center that sends real-time notifications about activity on the home’s WiFi network. Parents, for example, will be notified if a child’s friend connects certain devices to the WiFi network and assign that device to a child’s profile or as a Guest profile.

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To help customers get familiar with xFi, Comcast has also added an introduction to the feature that enters play after a customer completes the sign-up process for the xFi mobile app and web site.

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Comcast has integrated xFi on millions of gateways, including the xFi Wireless Gateway (a DOCSIS 3.0 device formerly known as the XB3) and the xFi Advanced Wireless Gateway, a DOCSIS 3.1-based gateway that used to be known as the XB6. Customers can currently access the xFi dashboard on X1 set-tops, a Web portal and on apps for iOS and Android mobile devices.

Like it does for its X1 video platform, which also relies on a cloud-based management infrastructure, Comcast expects to introduce new features and capabilities for xFi on an incremental basis.

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“It’s really the home operating system … that brings everything together in the home the same way X1 brought all of the programming content together on the video side,” Schaefer said of xFi in a recent interview.  “You need to manage WiFi and organize it the way you would organize 100 channels of HD or 100,000 hours of VOD.”

Tied into its whole-home WiFi-facing activities, Comcast plans to complement its xFi gateways with a new line of WiFi “pods” that will fill in coverage gaps in the home. Comcast is developing those products, expected to be introduced in Q4 2017, in partnership with Plume.