Comcast offers consumers a selection of digital cable services, data offerings, and a selection of digital voice services. Not all of these services are available in all areas, but Comcast does compete in many markets.
Unfortunately, Comcast also has many other markets exclusively to themselves, much to the chagrin of residents if alleged user-reviews are to be believed. The core of Comcast’s offerings still revolve around their broadcasting services, though it seems that this may change as Comcast’s own website is sub-titled: “High-Speed Internet, Cable, Phone Service Provider.” This order seems to put emphasis on Comcast’s broadband offerings over their digital cable and digital phone services, and may be a reasonable framework for viewing company’s offerings.
Comcast High Speed Internet
While Comcast’s cable services have been very successful and popular in many markets, the company has received a great deal of negative press regarding their bandwidth caps. We discuss this more on our comparison between Verizon FiOS and Comcast Xfinity.
Comcast Xfinity Broadband Plans:
Comcast offers three tiers of broadband services: Economy, Performance, and Performance PLUS. The Economy plan is the least expensive 1 as it’s name would suggest and features download speeds up to 1 Mbps and upload speeds up to 384 Kbps, while both of the Performance packages offer upload speeds of up to 2 Mbps with PowerBoost technology. The difference in speed between the Performance and the Performance PLUS package is still quite great, 12 Mbps with the performance versus 16 Mbps with the Performance PLUS.
Note that these data rates were taken from Tucson, Arizona and may not reflect the data rates offered in other markets accurately. Due to the fact that Tucson is a fairly small market, it would seem reasonable to expect faster services in areas where Comcast could deploy more infrastructure and expect a better return on their investment. While download speeds over a few Mbps are fast enough for most consumers, it is worth noting that Comcast’s offerings are not competitive with top-tier service providers in terms of speeds.
Comcast Bandwidth Throttling
Comcast’s data services are also capped at 250 GB of bandwidth per month (in some areas), which may seem like quite a lot by today’s standards but may not seem so ample tomorrow. Some critics of bandwidth caps and/or Comcast suggest that these limitations are part of a plan to stifle online delivery of content that would allow studios to cut out cable companies such as Comcast and offer their programming directly to the public. Others suggest that Comcast’s network is in need of renovation if it cannot supply its customer base with unlimited bandwidth at competitive speeds and prices.
Comcast includes McAfee Security Suite
Comcast offers a McAfee Security Suite which can protect up to 7 PCs. Some of Comcast’s competitors have opted to provide malware protection and firewall kits from less well known companies, and thus the inclusion of a McAfee backed system should be considered a major plus for Comcast customers.
Comcast Xfinity Television Services:
It is hard to complain that there is nothing to watch when Comcast offers over 300 digital cable channels, including basic cable and clusters of premium channels by Cinemax, HBO, Showtime and Starz. Augmenting the hundreds of digital cable channels are nearly 50 digital music channels that offer genre-specific music 24/7 without commercial interruptions.
The downside to the Comcast’s digital offerings is that there are less than 40 complete HD channels in most areas, which lags behind the competition in what is becoming an increasingly important metric. It is also worth noting that many of Comcast’s on demand offerings are HD, but the majority of on demand videos still seem to be SD. The overall theme here is that Comcast’s large network seems to be slowly moving into HD, and Comcast’s monolithic size may be working against them when it comes to upgrading and keeping up with the latest technological trends.
Comcast International Programming
Comcast also offers 14 different international channel bundles, such as the Mandarin Chinese bundle that includes CCTV-4, JADE, and the CTI-Zhong Tian channel. Other international channel bundles include: a single Arabic channel, a British sports channel, several Filipino channels, a handful of Portuguese channels, a cluster of channels from Asia, and at least a single channel for most European languages/cultures. The result is that anyone who has visited or lived in another country, or desires to learn a great deal more about another language/culture has the perfect opportunity just a tick on an order sheet away with Comcast’s international channel offerings.
Comcast Home DVR
The DVR system offered by Comcast can record up to 90 hours of SD television, though no official measurement of HD recording capacity is readily available. DVR is a nearly standard feature these days, but Comcast still charges for it.
Comcast Digital Home Phone
Many cable service providers are offering digital phone services that leverage their infrastructure and marketing muscle and Comcast is no exception. The digital phone services offered by Comcast are surprisingly robust, and come in two tiers: Comcast Local with More and Comcast Unlimited. Both packages require a data plan, but come with popular features such as Caller ID, call waiting, 3-way calling, call screening, repeat dialing, call return, and voice mail.
The major difference between the two plans is that Comcast Unlimited offers unlimited anytime calls within the United States while Comcast Local with More only offers unlimited calls to the local area. Comcast Unlimited also offers a visual voice mail to sort through calls to listen to the most important messages first.
Comcast Universal Address Book & Online Voicemail:
Like many of Comcast’s rivals, Comcast has been trying to find ways to integrate their services in order to build value. One example of this is the Comcast Digital Voice Mail service. Anyone who has both Comcast’s telephone service and Comcast data plan can access their voice mail online, anywhere in the world. Additionally, Comcast offers a feature they refer to as the Universal Address Book which keeps all contact data in a single place that is accessible anywhere one can get online. This is an interesting offering for travelers, but may not be that useful for everyone. In fact, some might be more than a little leery of putting all of their contact data/address book in a single place on the Internet.
Comcast Triple Play & Bundles
Comcast offers a series of bundles that they refer to as ‘Triple Play’ bundles. The title might infer that sports are at the heart and soul of the offering, but the truth is that Triple Play bundles offer digital cable, data, and digital phone services in an affordable bundle. There are different tiers of Triple Play bundles, and Comcast routinely changes them, but the fact is that by opting for a Triple Play package instead of using Comcast only for one or two of their three services and another provider for the remaining service(s) is likely to save one a lot of money.
While Comcast’s new X1 service isn’t available in all areas, below is a map of the cities and states that Comcast does offer coverage.
Contact Comcast to establish service or make changes to your existing service by calling their toll-free customer service number at: 1-800-COMCAST (1-800-266-2278). See our company contact information for a comprehensive list of customer service telephone numbers.
1 Comcast routinely offers packages at introductory rates that are competitive or even better than the Economy plan’s pricing. ↩