Based in Philadelphia, Xfinity/Comcast started offering internet services in 1996. It became the largest provider of cable internet in the United States by 2011. The company has 26.5 million customers for its high-speed internet services.
In 2017, Xfinity announced a redesigned home hub system, called xFi. This connects its users with faster Wi-Fi in the home, integrating Bluetooth, Zigbee, and Thread protocols to support home automation products as well as standard internet access. The company’s interest in the expanding field of home automation and the Internet of Things extends into the provision of home security systems. The home security system gives visual access to homeowners to security cameras footage over the internet to their smartphones, so they can supervise their homes while traveling, out on errands or at work.
The Xfinity Wi-Fi project offers Wi-Fi hotspots across the Xfinity service area. The access points for this service are provided by Xfinity equipment placed to cover public spaces and also the hubs installed in the homes and premises of Xfinity customers. This policy has proved to be controversial as the home subscribers who host hotspot hubs have no control over which passing stranger can access the internet through them.
The extension of access to the internet for the general population through the Wi-Fi routers placed in the homes of Xfinity subscribers raises the issue of liability. Consumers worried that they could be held accountable if outsiders used the internet access of private routers for illegal activities. However, the public/private Xfinity Wi-Fi hubs create two networks, one private, to which members of the general population do not have access and one public, which can only give access to those with an Xfinity account. The requirement to log in with an account also makes it possible to trace any illegal activity to a specific individual, making it clear that the home hosting the hub is not responsible.
As a cable TV network, the Xfinity system is primarily concerned with selling entertainment packages. However, as with all cable TV networks in North America, the company also offers telephone and internet over its cables. The company is particularly active in marketing bundles of services to its customers. So, anyone shopping around for an internet service is likely to get a better deal by combining the service with an internet and telephone package.