Xfinity Review – 2020

Xfinity is a brand of Comcast Cable Communications. Comcast is one of the leading telecommunications businesses in North America. Its activities include cable TV, internet, and telephone provision.

Pros of Xfinity

  • The largest service area in the country
  • Service in 40 states
  • A choice of speeds and connection types
  • Entertainment bundles with telephone and internet
  • High-spec Wi-Fi routers designed for home automation
  • Access to Wi-Fi hotspots

Cons of Xfinity

  • Lots of hidden charges
  • A confusingly long list of plans and options

Table of Contents

Overview of Xfinity Internet Services

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.

Check out our roundup of Best Internet Providers

 

Some Points About Xfinity

Comcast and Xfinity have been caught a number of times in the past intentionally slowing down specific types of traffic. On each occasion, the company at first strenuously denied the accusations, but then admitted their wrongdoing when proof emerged. This practice is called “throttling” and it is illegal in the United States.

Types of traffic that Comcast has targeted are Peer-to-Peer file sharing and video streaming. As a provider of entertainment, Comcast was particularly interested in limiting speeds to Netflix traffic. The argument between Comcast and Xfinity has been a long-running legal battle, which finally got settled in 2014. However, Netflix is vigilant and has introduced a transfer speed league table to publicly shame any cable carrier that tries to throttle Netflix traffic.

Xfinity’s current position in the Netflix speed table shows it now carries Netflix traffic at roughly the same speed as other carriers. In September 2019, that speed was 4.49 Mbps.

Xfinity Plans

Xfinity has five groups of internet service plans. These are:

 

Performance

 

o   15 Mbps

o   100 Mbps

o   200 Mbps

 

Blast!

 

o   300 Mbps

 

Extreme

 

o   600 Mbps

 

Gigabit

 

o   1000 Mbps

o   2000 Mbps

 

Internet Essentials

 

o   15 Mbps

 

Speeds are not guaranteed. In the presentation of each plan, the company marks the speed as “up to.” The website also doesn’t publish upload speeds for most of its plans. The only plans that have a notified upload speed are the Performance Starter and Internet Essential plan with a 2 Mbps upload speed, the Gigabit Internet plan with a 35 Mbps upload speed and the Gigabit Pro plan, which claims to have a 2000 Mbps upload speed.

 

Not all plans are available in all of the Xfinity service area. The table below shows details of a selection of Xfinity plans.

 

 

Plan Download Speed Minimum Term Data Cap Feature
Performance Starter Up to 25 Mbps None 1 TB Free self-install kit
Performance Pro Up to 200 Mbps None 1 TB Free self-install kit
Blast! Up to 300 Mbps None or  1 Year 1 TB $30 installation discount
Extreme Pro Up to 600 Mbps None or  1 Year 1 TB $30 installation discount
Gigabit Internet Up to 1000 Mbps None or  2 Years None $30 installation discount
Internet Essentials 15 Mbps None 1 TB Available for low-income homes

The Internet Essentials program gives a discounted subscription rate to low-income families who are receiving Federal assistance. Membership of one of a list of assistance schemes is needed in order to qualify. Other benefits of the plan include a free Wi-Fi router, free installation, 40 hours a month metered access to Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots, a discount on the purchase of a home computer, and free computer training courses.

Xfinity Pricing Overview

Many of Xfinity’s plans do not require a contract or a minimum service period. On some plans, the customer has the choice of whether to opt for a term agreement. In these cases, the company applies a discount for the first year of service. Discounts are not available without a contract.

 

The table below shows a selection of Xfinity internet service plans and their prices.

 

 

Plan Discount Rate / Contract Standard Price/Month Setup Cost Equipment Fee
Performance Starter No contract $49.95 $59.99 $13/month
Performance Pro No contract. $49.99 first 12 months $89.95 $59.99 $13/month
Blast! $59.99 for the first 24 months or no contract $94.95 $29.99 $13/month
Extreme Pro $69.99 for the first 12 months or no contract $99.95 $29.99 $13/month
Gigabit Internet $79.99 for the first 36 months or no contract $104.95 $29.99 $13/month
Internet Essentials No contract $9.95 $0 $0

Plans that include a free self-installation kit, such as the Performance Starter and Performance Pro incur a setup cost if the buyer chooses not to use the free self-installation kit and asks for a professional installation. The self-installation kit incurs a shipping and handling charge even though it is nominally free. There are no fees for those who use their own modem and set it up themselves without professional assistance or a self-install kit.

Some plans offer the option of a contract and only give an introductory discount for those who take the contract option. The exception to this is the Performance Pro plan, which gets a one-year discount period even though it has no contract.

All plans can be canceled in the first month and all payments will be fully refunded.

Xfinity also has a long list of bundles on offer. These combine a telephone service, a TV package or both with the internet service.

Xfinity Customer Service

Customers can solve their own problems by searching through a knowledge base at the Xfinity site. Those who still need assistance can use a chat facility, email or telephone helpline. Unfortunately, the assignment of calls to call centers and attendance on the chat screen is random and each call center is unwilling to assist customers outside of their designated service zone. This can result in a complete block of assistance. This leaves email as the only option to get proper assistance.

Choosing Xfinity Plans

Be careful about the headline subscription fees and the posted speeds on the Xfinity sales website. The speed available in your area might not be as good as the speeds advertised for each plan. Xfinity speeds can also be variable in the same service area according to time. That is, at peak usage times, such as when school kids arrive home, internet speeds can slow considerably.

Take the long-term price of plans into account when choosing which offer to sign up for. The introductory discounts can make a big difference in price. For example, the Performance Internet plan gives a download speed of up to 200 Mbps for $49.99 per month, while the Performance Starter promises a speed of up to 25 Mbps at a price of $49.95 per month. However, after a year, the Performance Internet price goes up to $89.95 per month.

Pay attention to the bundle offers if you want to get cable TV and home phone as well. Buying a bundle works out cheaper than buying each service individually.