The Xfinity internet provider and its predecessor, Comcast have repeatedly been caught out throttling connections to rival entertainment providers. “Throttling” means intentionally slowing down certain internet traffic. It particularly got caught out slowing down Netflix when it first came on the scene, providing competition to Comcast’s own cable TV services.
Eventually, Netflix paid Xfinity to stop its throttling practices. Pocketing the money, Xfinity carried on throttling Netflix traffic, believing that the practice, which is illegal, couldn’t be proved. Netflix created a speed test site and encouraged its subscribers on Xfinity to use it and claim compensation from the ISP. Xfinity stopped throttling Netflix traffic.
Before adopting the Xfinity name, Comcast was discovered to be disrupting torrent traffic by sending disconnect messages to the seeds that its clients were downloading from. In this instance, Xfinity categorically denied the charge, got proven as liars in court and then admitted its deeds. Comcast was fined by the FCC for the practice but overturned the judgment on a technicality.
Netflix has evolved its speed test into an ISP speed league table. The data for September 2019 shows that Netflix traffic carried on Xfinity/Comcast traveled at an average speed of 4.49 Mbps. This is on a par with most of the other major internet service providers in the USA shown in the table.
Xfinity concentrates on offering cable internet and doesn’t offer any other internet connection type. However, the backbone of the Comcast network is carried on fiber-optics, so it could be said that this is also fiber internet, except for the last link from the local exchange to the customer’s door. This network configuration is known in the industry as a “hybrid fiber-coaxial” system (HFC).
* includes a Free Self-Starter Kit that gets you out of paying a $59.99 installation fee. However, you will be charged a shipping and handling fee for it.
** includes a discount of $30 on installation fees
Xfinity offers the Internet Essentials program, which gives a discounted subscription rate to low-income families whose children are enrolled in the National School Lunch Program.
Additionally, Xfinity offers a long list of plans that combine internet service with a cable TV package. The company also offers internet, TV, and landline deals.
Most of the reputational damage to the business over throttling occurred under the Comcast name. The switch to Xfinity for residential services was partly an attempt to clean the service’s tarnished image and partly to create a distinction between Comcast’s residential and commercial divisions.
The large investment in a fiber-optic backbone has done a lot to improve the image of the company as being at the forefront of technology. The great speeds this network delivers also breeds satisfaction among the service’s customers.
One business function that lets the Xfinity brand down is its Customer Service department. This is partly because the company has so many customers, it is difficult to set up a cost-effective call center that wouldn’t be immediately swamped by calls. However, Xfinity clearly isn’t investing enough in its Customer Care program.
Another problem with the Customer Service Center is that its operators don’t have all of the information that a typical caller would want. The Chat facility on the Xfinity website is even worse -- they don’t like to be asked what fees are charged with each plan.
There is a 1 Terabyte (1 TB) data cap in all plans except for the Gigabit Pro account.
Watch out for the equipment rental fee of $13 per month for the cable modem that accesses the internet service. The company also charges a standard $59.99 for installation by a technician. You can avoid these hidden charges if you buy your own modem and set it up yourself.
Xfinity currently offers a “self-installation pack” for free as a signing incentive to new customers on some plans. Other plans offer a $30 discount on installation fees.
Some Xfinity plans require a contract. These plans have a minimum service term and those who break the contract early are liable to pay fines. The plans that don’t require are marked with “No Term Agreement” in the Plans and Pricing section above.