Yesterday, Comcast announced a new service which will put television viewing within the reach of everyone, it says.
The company clearly wants the lion’s share of NBC Universal to fill those pipes, and so that it will have access to the many archives that those companies control.
I wonder however, if the company will have the intelligence to expand its bandwidth while it expands its offerings of content. They certainly don’t want to emulate AT&T, when they opened up the network to the hundreds of thousands of smart phone users (mostly iPhones) and then found that their network was underpowered and unequipped for the task.
The announcement came from Maximum PC, and brings more details, and a few questions -
“To xfinity, and beyond!” No; doesn’t work for me either. But it probably doesn’t matter, it’s the name of Comcast’s new “TV Everywhere” service, like it or not, that lets some Comcast subscribers access extra TV programing, streamed from the Internet.
Xfinity, which is presently in beta, is open to customers who subscribe both to digital cable and broadband. If you qualify, head on over to Comcast.net, login in, and look for the “Fancast Xfinity TV” logo. Comcast will ask you to download a movie player and an Adobe AIR app, and afterwards authorize your computer. (You can authorize up to three computers.) Then you’ll be good to go.
There are some limits at present. First, you can only access the service on a Comcast network, although Comcast says that restriction will be lifted at some later date. Second, you can’t use the service internationally. Third, no mobile devices for now–maybe next year. But, for the time being, the service is offered at no additional cost.
With this new service could it be that Comcast is signaling a recognition that cable is no longer a standalone necessity? The Internet, while in its media streaming infancy, is offering potential to undermine cable’s entertainment dominance. As Comcast delivers both, it makes sense for Comcast to take advantage of both, giving customers who dump one (cable), a choice of another (Internet). And, as a business model, it beats out Hulu or Boxee and their ilk, because Comcast can make you pay for what you get.
I wonder how well this new service will mesh with Comcast’s bandwidth restrictions.
That last question is one I thought of when I saw the page on Maximum PC. It is going to be a problem for the company when it “converts” users to watch television over the internet, and then slaps those once happy customers with overage fees.
Either that, or the whole thing is a plot between Comcast and your local library to force you back to actually reading books.
Beyond the jokes, the company needs to know that for the masses, or even significant numbers of people, to want to engage in this practice, they will have to get latency of their network way down, and bandwidth way up. That says money. Can you guess where that might come from?
Weeds…anytime, anywhere, as long as you haven’t pushed your bandwidth cap.