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The Comcast interview: The conglomerate people love to hate charts a new direction

Pulkit Chandna | Aug. 24, 2015
Who’d have thought one of the world’s largest pay-TV service providers would develop a product aimed at cord cutters? And that’s just one of the big projects Comcast is working on today.

We’re trying to reinvent the home phone from a thing on the wall in your kitchen to an experience that is versatile, portable and integrated. As an example, our phone customers can use other connected devices to receive or make calls and texts. It’s popular with parents because their kids can use it to talk and text on their tablet or iPod, without the need for their own smartphone. Also, if you’re traveling abroad, you can use this feature to call or text using a Wi-Fi connection, without racking up international wireless charges.

TH: What’s the idea behind the new Share live-streaming app, which is now available to all Xfinity subscribers?

MJ: To us, it’s all about sharing personal moments, big and small. The difference between our service and say a Periscope, is that our communication is more one-to-one or one-to-a-few as opposed to a communication to the masses. We wanted to make it a little more intimate. Also, we incorporated the TV into the live streaming experience, which hadn’t really been done before. When you’re watching a live stream of your nephew’s college graduation on your 50-inch flat screen, it can feel like you’re right there with him.

We’re also one of the first to use WebRTC in this way and chose it because it’s scalable, flexible and interoperable. That way we can evolve Xfinity Share quickly and add new features along the way. [Editor’s note: Web Real-Time Communication is an API drafted by the World Wide Web Consortium for browser-to-browser video applications.]

TH: Can you tell us a bit more about the short-form online video service Comcast first talked about last year? From what we’ve heard, it sounds more like Vessel than YouTube, but for the TV instead of the computer.

MJ: Ultimately, we want to give people all their entertainment options on one, easy-to-use platform. That means all the TV shows and movies you love, plus potentially professional and semi-pro web video, user-generated content from the web, games, apps, and more. The X1 platform is built for this type of content blending, and we’re exploring all types of partnerships that can bring it together in one experience. We hope to have more to share soon.

TH: The X1 platform sounds great, it isn’t yet available to everyone, and won’t be for another two to three years. What are you doing about that?

MJ: It’s clear that one of the reasons new customers are coming to Comcast is X1. It’s available in every market we serve and we are accelerating its rollout by installing up to 30,000 boxes per day. We know users love it and we want to get it into the hands of as many people as possible.

 

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