{/exp:query} Xfinity Home Control to Compete with $10 Home Automation from Verizon, Lowe’s - Article from CE Pro
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Xfinity Home Control to Compete with $10 Home Automation from Verizon, Lowe’s

Xfinity’s new DIY home automation system to compete with Verizon and Lowe’s Iris -- $9.95/month for remote security, lighting and energy management but no professional monitoring; company adds Ecosaver learning thermostat solution.


Xfinity Home Control: DIY home automation, security, surveillance, energy management—no professional security monitoring—just $9.95/month

Xfinity (then Comcast) was the first of the major cable companies and telcos to roll out a home automation system with remote monitoring and management of alarms, surveillance cameras, lighting, thermostats and other devices in the home. The original offering – first called Comcast Home Security, then Comcast Home, now Comcast Home Secure—requires professional installation and security monitoring and costs $40 per month for the base package.

Now Xfinity is launching a DIY system that costs just $9.95 per month for most of the original home automation functions but without the professional security monitoring.

The new system, called Xfinity Home Control, helps Xfinity compete with Verizon – the only major cable/telecom company to launch an all-DIY home automation system with no monitored security system. Verizon’s Home Monitoring and Control, launched in 2011, is similar to Xfinity Home, with the same fee structure and mostly the same feature set.

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Likewise, Xfinity now is positioned to compete with Lowe’s, which launched the Iris home control system (starting at $10 per month) during CES 2013.

RELATED: CES 2013 Shocker: Lowe’s Iris Home Automation Has Legs

So far Time Warner Cable (IntelligentHome), Cox Communications (Cox Home Security) and AT&T (Digital Life) have yet to announce similar packages.

While today’s press release does not detail the hardware of the new system, presumably it is the same as the original home control system but without cellular communications. Powered by the cloud-based iControl automation platform, Xfinity home utilizes a single self-contained controller with a touchscreen, low-rate RF for security sensors, ZigBee for home automation, and WiFi for other services.

If the hardware is in fact the same as the original, the new Xfinity Home Control should provide an easy upgrade path for cellular service and professional security monitoring.

A “starter pack” is being offered for $99.95. We’re guessing it includes a touchscreen controller, a thermostat, a plug-in lamp module and maybe a security sensor or two.

In addition to the new DIY system, Xfinity announced today the launch of EcoSaver, a new cloud-based solution that may help consumers reduce energy usage. The service learns the heating and cooling patterns of a home and makes automatic and incremental adjustments to the thermostat based on real-time weather data, the thermal characteristics of the house and the temperature preferences of the occupants.

Last week, Xfinity announced that its home control system would integrate with Osram Sylvania’s new ZigBee-enabled LED bulbs.
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Article Topics

· Verizon · Xfinity · Lowes · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]

12 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Avi  on  06/10  at  02:50 PM

And the drive to the ground begins…  all this will do is further the escalation of “de-valuing” Home Automation…  soon it will be “free” with the purchase of a 6-pack at your local AM/PM…

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  06/10  at  03:21 PM

Ah, who cares, Avi? These are DIY systems and besides $99 gets you practically nothing in hardware. They still have to spend $1k to do anything interesting with it.

Most of the top home automation companies have systems that cost $0 for remote access and control. The ones with cloud-based services charge about $10/month.

Posted by 1TCH  on  06/11  at  08:00 PM

Let’s think about this. DIYers need to be pretty techie to configure the gear. Those who do try it and experience problems will call the providers. The providers will be happy to help at a cost. Soon that $99 deal at $9.95 a month isn’t so attractive. I don’t worry about this. Happy to have them inform the masses of automation. It’s about time awareness is being made.

Posted by Bill Maxey  on  06/11  at  09:55 PM

Julie makes a valid point.  I want a million subscribers each pay me $10/month for a tiny amount of server action.

Posted by jhamill1  on  06/12  at  07:55 AM

And is the idea that Comcast, a company that can’t keep your cable tv and internet services up and running adequately or provide quality customer service, is going to somehow do anything but a terrible job with automation? It takes a really bad company like AT&T to make Comcast seem slightly less offensive. The DIY community deserve such high-end partners.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  06/12  at  09:06 AM

1TCH, it is most certainly not a $99 deal! They probably give you one or 2 door/window sensors, a plug-in module and a tstat, so it basically becomes $10/month to turn on a light, control the thermostat, and monitor the ins and outs through a single door.

Posted by Steve Montgomery  on  06/12  at  01:28 PM

Julie, I think you are being kind to suggest inclusion of a thermostat and plug load controller. Even the lowest quality designs (and their is a wide range on the quality scale) of ZigBee thermostat wholesales for $60 and a single-receptacle plug load controller for $25. I believe that the $99 kit will only include a controller, a motion sensor and a door sensor. I find it amusing that consumers still tolerate the $10 per month “service fee”. Existing providers exist now with built-in web servers (e.g. SafePlug Energy Manager kit) and $0 per month remote access to home monitoring (e.g. MyFreeMonitor.com).. Although limited, the capabilities will likely expand.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  06/12  at  01:51 PM

I’m trying to get the complete info, Steve. I just guessed at this pkg because iControl is already making the touchscreens, but it’ll probably be some little box instead (i.e., guts of the touchscreen without a UI). I suspect they still lock you into a 3-year contract at that rate. Say 3 years at $10/month, so $360 with potential for longer-term renewals, upgrade paths, etc. Certainly hardware will be sold at retail, and the customer will need to spend $500 - $1,000 just to get modest capabilities.

Remote home management and control has been around for more than a decade with products that included built-in web servers (i.e., no monthly fee), but the cloud model makes very good sense as a plug-and-play solution for DIYers. Furthermore, new functions (like ecofactor/ecosaver) can be added painlessly through the cloud service.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  06/13  at  12:03 PM
Posted by Steve Montgomery  on  06/13  at  02:08 PM

Thanks for the update. The gateway with ZigBee and WiFi and a bit of memory plus a cheap camera for $99? It seems like they are simply doing their best to lower the entry fee. They may be making a little profit on the hardware, but the $10 per month over 3 year adds up to a nice 400% return for them. Plus they do not have to pay for a “truck roll”. The big question remains as to whether they charge for support calls. I bet they will get quite a few and that could get expensive. I am sure the operators will be trying to churn through the phone or on-line questions as fast as possible.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  06/13  at  03:38 PM

I don’t think they’d charge for support. $10/month obviously isn’t worth it for a single camera, but it becomes more appealing with multiple cameras, a thermostat and some other ZigBee stuff. Thing is ... the platform doesn’t even support much ZigBee stuff.

Posted by Brian Mel  on  06/17  at  04:19 PM

I can’t give Comcast a zero, but it’s damn near close. Overall, I think Comcast is a great company. They make great business decisions, their stock is doing great and their new cloud based DVR technology is pretty cool even it took them over a decade to finally create a DVR that looks like it belongs in this decade (Sorry Brian Roberts). But, I can’t understand for the life of me why a company the size and experience of Comcast can put together a security and automation division and get it so wrong. I would consider Comcast an entry level system. They offer basic security (like dozens of companies out there) with very basic and I emphasize VERY basic automation controls. Basically, all you get is lighting, thermostat and cameras. They have no ability to record Video, you have to pay a higher fee to have cameras on the package and the ‘Rules’ as they call them which let you set macros in the system to turn lights on or off at certain times or activate the alarm at a predetermined time are among the most basic I have seen in a system. I have a background in alarm systems and was forced into getting Comcast Home because I needed a Triple Play bundle to get the new X1 DVR and I have never been more unhappy with Comcast since I have had this alarm system installed. I can not wait until my 3 year incarceration is over so I can get an HAI or ELK system installed. Even if I want the system to do something very basic like alert me when one of my kids come home or when the contractor came and left. Comcast’s system can’t do that. You can only set a rule to alert you if the alarm system has been disarmed or armed. The list of supported devices are a joke also. No garage door controls, no geo sense technology, no door lock controls, no automatic blind controls, no irrigation controls, no audio support for devices such as whole house audio like Sonos and the list goes on. I don’t believe Comcast realizes the potential of what they have or that they can compete against companies like Control4, HAI & Crestron and that a home automation system is not as much about convenience as it is about energy conservation and peace of mind. Adding support for all of these other devices and adding a full set of expert rule configurations will allow the user to not only more control over their home and their lifestyle but save them money in the process. I can’t believe Comcast doesn’t even offer a community support line such as an online forums, blog or support phone line where technicians for the Home security team can monitor user requests for upgrades and additions they would like to see added to the system or bugs they find because there’s been plenty of bugs I have found in the system. About 10 years ago I wanted to start a subscription based automation company with a buddy of mine, but we didn’t have the start-up capital to do it. And now that Comcast is one of the first companies to do it, I am very disappointed with them. It makes me wish I would have been able to get my company started back then because I would have done it right. Shame on you Comcast.

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