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Comcast Offering Home Security Bundle 102

vaporland writes "Bloomberg reports that media giant Comcast has begun offering home security bundles with cable or phone service in selected markets. From the article: 'The Philadelphia-based company is starting Xfinity Home Security in seven markets for $39.95 a month. It lets users remotely adjust lights and thermostats, watch cameras, and get e-mail or text alerts when doors and windows are opened and closed. Customers can watch live video of their homes on an Xfinity website or with an Apple Inc. iPad application.'"
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Comcast Offering Home Security Bundle

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  • Convergance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bananatree3 ( 872975 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @05:37PM (#36419900)
    Convergence: When your home automation, grid power, security, telephone, TV, internet and wireless companies are all owned by the same conglomerate
    • When your home automation, grid power, security, telephone, TV, internet and wireless companies are all owned by the same conglomerate

      And that conglomerate has one of the worst customer service records of any corporation in America. It sounds like the making of a success story to me.

  • by zonky ( 1153039 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @05:38PM (#36419902)
    What could possibily go wrong!
  • Rogers, Canada's largest telecom, also started offering a similar service a few weeks ago.
  • Well maybe they'll finally start providing some decent upstream bandwidth then. Who woulda thunk it.

    • Re:Uplinks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @06:08PM (#36420086) Journal
      If this is anything like their quasi-VOIP offering a while back, they'll specifically run all their blessed-and-packaged stuff over a separate logical link(and no, the existence of that link on the same physical line in no way implies that we could remove it and offer better upstream bandwidth. Shut up, consumer, and watch some pay-per-view.) and call it a feature.
      • they'll specifically run all their blessed-and-packaged stuff over a separate logical link

        But isn't this what you want in a home security product?

        • Re:Uplinks (Score:4, Interesting)

          by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @08:13PM (#36420814) Journal
          Yes and no. Obviously, you don't want video feeds of your house going over the public internet in the clear; but(since part of the service does involve accessing them over the internet from an offsite location), Comcast already has to have a secure-over-public internet approach sorted out(presumably just TLS). Also, since Comcast is the one running the setup, it is presumably the case that the route taken over the public internet would just be a hop from you directly to them anyway(since Comcast is both the ISP, and thus the closest thing on the network, and the one operating the server side of this service). Unless they really were to fuck it up, which would likely imperil the storage, or login page, or video streaming capabilities, you wouldn't get usefully greater security.

          Since the two logical links(Comcast qua ISP, and whatever in-house Comcast services you are subscribed to) travel over the same line and assorted hardware, reliability is unlikely to be better over one than over the other, and having Comcast able to carve out swaths of untouchable bandwidth for its own services really just makes product bundling and squelching internet-based competitors easier and more tempting.

          For non-technical users, the partition probably does have the virtue of providing a crude form of QoS; but the overall market effect of it is hard to be optimistic about.
          • by Anonymous Coward

            But remember, unlike DSL where the line.runs to the calamity, on cable you're on the same loop as all your neighbors,

            • by swalve ( 1980968 )
              1- I just LOVE autocorrect mistakes. Usually iphone users...

              2- I'd rather share a firehose than have my own drinking straw. The gross capacity of a coax cable is roughly 4.1 gbps (38 mbps times 110 channels). DSL is what, 4 mbps, tops, unless you are living out back of the "calamity" facility?
      • Ya I wouldn't be too optimistic about upstream bandwidth or any other decent service from them until they get some competition. For what it's worth, my cable provider is pretty darn good in all respects except one: upstream bandwidth. I get a decent price, fast down speed, high reliability so far, quick resolution when it does go down, and they even showed up on time to install it. But VNC or RDP into the home box from the lab is painful. Ah well, good things take time right?

    • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

      no, they will just lower the cap so you will get to pay more due to overage.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    " Customers can watch live video of their homes on an Xfinity website "

    And what makes anyone think Comcast won't be doing the same whenever they want?

  • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Sunday June 12, 2011 @05:59PM (#36420034) Homepage

    So now, someone can break into Comcast and easily see which houses have good stuff and don't have anyone at home. That must be very handy for thieves.

    As a customer, I already don't trust Comcast and think they cost too much. Why would I pay them $40 a month for this? Especially since it would take away from my internet bandwidth?

    • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @06:14PM (#36420126) [] Only Window/Door Sensors (4) Motion Detector (1) Wireless Keypad (1) Keychain Remote (1) Touch Screen (1) Cellular and Battery Backup Included what will more Sensors cost $0.25 /m each? Motion Detectors at $2 /m? added keypad $5-$10 /m? added Keychain Remote $3 /m see how much they bill you rent the cable box + they also bill you to rent the remote as well. That cost can go up fast. Also is there a Cellular modem rent fee like how you have to rent the emta that is not part of listed price.
      • by hitmark ( 640295 )

        Only thing missing seems to be razor wire fencing and automated gun turrets...

        • Automated Gun Turrets would make me consider subscribing, making sure they were connected only to my LAN, and then unsubscribing.
    • I don't think it would take away from your Internet bandwidth - when you're not watching it, there is no data to be streamed. And when you're watching you're normally away from home so no problem there.

      Anyway, while I basically like the idea to keep an eye on your property from afar, the one thing I'd be most worried about is the security of the system itself. How to make sure that only authorised people can access the cameras, and no-one else, not even Comcast staff?

      Having this over a centralised system

  • by aix tom ( 902140 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @06:10PM (#36420106)

    You get relevant targeted advertisements from consumer electronics companies right after you stereo gets stolen.

    • by k3vlar ( 979024 )
      I can see it now: You're watching the video feed, and you see that your TV is missing (it was stolen! OH NO!). Moments later, the space where your TV was is filled with the ghostly image of a Samsung® 60" LED TV with Quatron® Technology using augmented reality. Clicking the image charges the TV to your Comcast account (along with a Comcast convenience fee), and instructs the installers where to hook it up. It also orders you a Comcast cable box, and monthly service to go with it.
    • While I agree that your post is hilarious, it might not be all that far off. I can certainly see Comcast running some sort of automated image-detection algorithm (or outsourced Indian Manual image-detection algorithm) on the feeds, and targeting ads on their highjacked DNS pages to what would become an *extensive* database of your brand tastes.
    • by Seumas ( 6865 )

      Or you get an email from GoodVibrations that says "Hi, we noticed your bottle of lube is about to run out. Please click the instant-order button below, to be taken to our website and purchase a fresh bottle.!"

  • by hercubus ( 755805 ) <hercubus AT yahoo DOT com> on Sunday June 12, 2011 @06:17PM (#36420154) Homepage
    • 1) find out which Comcast execs use their own service
    • 2) hack in with malice aforethought
    • 3) ???
    • 4) profit!

    Comcast Exec: [logs into service] hmm, why does my home thermostat read 666?

    • Because I'd otherwise sweat and swelter to death in a neoprene suit.

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      • 1) find out which Comcast execs use their own service

      None of them do, of course. Why would they pay that much money for a crappy service?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In Soviet Russia, cable watches you.

  • "...Customers can watch live video of their homes on an Xfinity website or with an Apple Inc. iPad application.'"

    You misspelled Criminals.

  • by The O Rly Factor ( 1977536 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:24PM (#36420464)
    Philadelphia Police: Sir, we caught this man trying to break into your house at approximately 1:30 this afternoon after receiving an urgent notification from Comcast.

    Homeowner: Who is he?

    Philadelphia Police: He claims he is from "Verizon" and that he was here to "install FiOS", whatever that means.
  • this better be SELinux compatible
    I would NEVER put the security of the house in the hands of Microsoft

  • Why wouldn't we give one of the least ethical companies in the world access to everything we do at home? They already inspect and record everything we do online.
  • I was thinking of programming a system that links up to a modern computer and buying cheap webcams. Then you could monitor your house from a Flash Enabled Phone, and get alerts if motion sensors are triggered with the video feed. I was thinking with how cheap web cameras are now(practically free), all you're really paying for is cables and installation. You could probably wire a house for $500, and clear 300$ profit or more.

    Has anyone else considered this as a business?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2011 @09:22PM (#36421296)

    I have the service. Allow me to enlighten you as to what it is ( and isn't ).

    First, you MUST have a router feeding the house network. You need an available eth connection as well for the alarm head unit. The unit is NOT static IP configured, it's dhcp so it will be begging the router for an IP address. Force a static on it from the router and it will be thrilled. Head unit is listening on port 80 so you need to forward the port through the firewall to allow net access. Yeah every scan on Earth will see it so I suspect your router logs are gonna jump an order of magnitude or so. Hitting the unit asks for the install code ( 16 digit ) but I didn't test it past that.

    The whole system is wireless so the main unit needs to be centralized if possible so the sensors can talk to it. The install tech has to add the sensors to the head unit and you don't get to play in the config once they're done. Preferred package is four door / window sensors and one motion sensor. Additional sensors are horrendously expensive ( $170 for a motion sensor ?! ) but the system is General Electric based so you may be able to buy your own ( Z-Wave compatible ) but they will have to configure them in the head unit. Head unit also has a battery backup with a cellular system in the event of a power failure or loss of cable signal. Head unit is broadcasting it's own SSID and appears to be running with at least WPA.

    They fail to mention on their site that the customer is required to obtain an Alarm Operators Permit from your local municipality. Not expensive ($25 first year, $15 renewal) but necessary as the fine for the police showing up on an alarm call if you don't have one is expensive.

    Email and text messages for damn near anything can be configured. System arm / disarm, tamper switches trigger, individual triggers for every sensor, etc. Make sure you have a decent messaging plan.

    Remote monitoring, arm / disarm and system / sensor history are available once you log in using your info. Same for the IPhone app.

    They need to add a swivel bracket to the motion sensors for better placement options IMO. Three year contract. $200 install and $39.95 month. Qualifies for insurance discount. IS a monitored service. Seems to perform fairly well. No real complaints to speak of so far.

    • by kmoser ( 1469707 )
      If an intruder wants to disable the system all they have to do is open the junction box outside and unplug the cable that feeds your house. Voila: you're off the net and they're free to break in.
      • by mmalove ( 919245 )

        Actually... this would be totally worth the 40 bucks if the police get called on every time the internet service drops.

  • by bhmit1 ( 2270 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @09:47PM (#36421454) Homepage

    Maybe now all the established security vendors will create a decent offering that works over IP, rather than plugging their old technology into a voip box. I wouldn't trust my home security to Comcast, but the established security vendors need to upgrade their products off of telephone modem technology badly.

    If you were on IP, a simple "ping" could be run periodically to make sure you haven't had your connection cut. And you can get more advanced, like viewing the status on a web page (we already have banking online, so this can be done right) or getting a feed of the audio and video during a break-in to give police a heads up if it's a likely false alarm or send pictures of the criminal so police know who to look for. The alerts would also be sent faster, and can be encrypted over IP, rather than waiting for the modem to dial out.

  • by steppin_razor_LA ( 236684 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @12:00AM (#36422184) Journal

    ... but the first I think of is the irony that Orwell had it wrong. The govt won't have to force people to install cameras into their homes, we will do it ourselves...

  • I asked the question: Will Comcast charge me extra when intruders hack their security and start monitoring my cameras 24/7, pushing me over my 2.5GB monthly data quota?

  • Who else .. .. gets to see this feed .. gets to know my entry and leaving times .. gets to enable and disable my alarm?

    I like the idea, but there is no chance in hell I'll ever allow anyone else to place a camera inside my home or be 100% in control over its defenses. Notifications, fine, outside cameras, maybe, but no internal feed is ever going to leave my place unless a member of the family permits it.

    Oh, and no alarm system of mine is ever going to be solely dependent on a single Internet provider - I

  • We will be releasing a new product in two months time that will allow you to monitor your home before they break. You receive SMSes with links to video trigger from sensors outside of your house and then you can set off flood lights, alarms, send SMSes, E-mails, gateway to other systems of your own etc etc. It encodes the video to WebM (I expect it's the first security product to do that) so you can save the events and all this is under your own control, not an external company. It's highly configurable an

    • Can you share more info about your solution? I checked the website but it is lacking info.
      I see you are running a SheevaPlug - Linux? And what is being used as a middleware? OSGi?

      Just curious on the implementation.


      • It is a Sheevaplug under the covers, but it's not designed to be user customisable product as in the users can login and do things in the OS. It's not using OSGi. It's a standalone appliance (Black box). However, we have designed it to be very flexible. There are several different types of inputs that a user can provide to the box as events

        * X10 events from wireless PIRs
        * HTTP events as in a user can define button groups and button titles and then we

        • Thanks Kim - seems quite a good concept - I can even see the possibilities of future expansion on other Home Automation areas besides security.

          As an OSGi / Smart Home / Home Automation developer I'm quite interest on the implementation details of these solutions, so thanks for taking the time replying.

          I'll keep an eye on your site for future updates.

          • Your welcome. We developed it initially to solve specific security problems. But it is indeed very generic and includes some simple to use but none the less quite flexible state control so as to keep it's potential applications flexible. We'll see what kind of things users are interested in.

            We will try and generate as much news as possible when we launch, so hopefully you will notice :-) As we will be amongst the very first consumer hardware products to support WebM this shouldn't be too much trouble.


  • Note to self: cut landline AND cable TV coax before breaking and entering
  • Comcast has offered a home security product in a number of markets for a number of years. This isn't something new.
    • I believe it has only been in test markets up til now. This looks like they are beginning to roll this out.

      • When I worked for Comcast (was working for Time Warner and then worked for Comcast for about 1 week after they took over the Minneapolis market) at least 3 years ago, they offered it in the Texas area and a number of other spots. Seems they have added some features but they did offer security system services in a small number of markets.
  • don't like the idea of video feeds in my home that are centralized to any company. If I ever set up video feeds, I'd want to host them on my own server/router and login to view.

  • This looks like transcribed verbiage right off the sales brochure. At least in the past the Slashdot folk have rewritten the ad to be a bit more oblique. What's next? \/1agr/\ by Comcast ads in Slashdot?

    In any case, anyone who would trust their security with Comcast is a fool, just as is anyone who uses their internet service.

Air is water with holes in it.