Cable Company Home Security Issues

By: Carlton Purvis, Published on Jan 14, 2014

Mark already had cable from Comcast so when he started getting offers for their home security service, he was interested. He had recently moved into a new home and was about to leave on vacation for the first time after moving in. The family would be gone for a week, so he called Comcast and signed up. After having the two service for years, he says the system is easy to use, but he’s ready for a change. In an interview, he told us why. But first here's a rundown of Comcast's Xfinity Home Security Service:

Xfinity Home Security

With 21.6 million cable subscribers, Comcast is the largest “multisystem operator in the country”. IT's main revenue comes from cable, but it has expanded into Internet, and in recent years, home security services. The Comcast Xfinity Home Security [link no longer available]service has been around since 2010. Shortly after, Time Warner Cable and Verizon also launched similar services and Cox Communications added home monitoring last year.

Comcast, known for it's "bundles" is using its reach to get customers to add security service as part of their packages. Forty-one percent of it’s new home security subscribers are existing customers. The company says it won't release the number of home security subscribers it has.


The Package

Currently pricing on the website shows that for $40.00 per month (or less if it’s bundled with cable and internet service) and a three-year service agreement, a person gets a touch screen controller, three door sensors, a motion sensor, a wireless keypad, two cameras, two lighting controllers and a thermostat controller. Mark has all of these except the cameras. Customers can add additional parts from an equipment list [link no longer available]on the website.

**** *** *** *******:

Motion *********

*** ****** **** *** sensors *** ****** *********. There ** **** *** option *** * ******** motion ****** **** ******* says *** ****** ****** in ******** ********* ** windows.

*** ****, *** ******* was * **** ***** to **** ******** *******, he ****.

“*’** *** ** *** two ***** *** *** it ** ****’* *** that ********, * ******** would **** *** **** service * **** **** ago,” ** ****. ** says ** ******’* ****** home ******** **********, *** would ******** *** ** from ** ****** ***** system ******* ******* ** a ***** *******.

Installation *** **** ** ***

****** **** ** *******, Comcast **** *** * technician *** *** ************, setup *** ************* ** about ** ****, ** said. ********* ** **** the ****** ** ********** the ****** **********.

*** ****** *** ** and ******* ****** ***** vacation *** *** ********* on *** ***** ****** and *** *** *** intuitive ** ** *** able ** ***** *** to *** ** *** set ******. *** ***** are ****** ************, ** said. *** ******* ** once ******* * **** for *** ****** ** make **** *** ****** armed ** ******* ***** anyone ******. *** **** have ** *** ** make **** ** ** armed ** ****** ***** throughout *** ***. ** says ** ***** ***** able ** ****** *** system **** ******** **** the ***.

*** **** ******* ******* issues ** ********** ****:
  • ******** ***** *******
  • *********** *******
  • ***** ****** ***** * problem
  • ****** *******
  • ****** *********

Sacrificing ******** ***** *** ********

******* ********* *** ********* speed *** ********. **** says *** ** *** most ******** ******** **** the ****** ** **** it ********* * ********’* Internet *****.

“**** **** *** **** Netgear ********* **** **** **** cable ***** ** ** into **** ****** *** they **** ****** ** go ******* ***** ****** and **** ** ** the ******* ***** ******,” he ****. “*** ******* is **** *** ****** they **** ***, *** throughput ** ******** ... We *** *** ***** Internet *******. *** ****** drops *** ***** **** to ****.”

******* *****’* *** *** customers ****** *** ******** on **** ****** **, Mark, * ****** *******, says ** ***** * workaround ** *** *** full ******** ***** ** opening ******* **** ** the ******. *************, **** makes *** ****** *********** to *******, ** ****.

Touch ****** ********

*** ***** ***** ***’* a ***** ** *** house, *** ** ***** on *** ***** ****** included **** *** ******, which ** * ******* if * ****** *****’* have *** ***** ****** with **** ** *** house ******* **’* *** very ****, ** ****. Comcast ****** * ***** separately. *** ***** ****** also ******* ********* **** there ** ** *****.

“**** ***’** ****** ** deactivate ** ***** ** alert **’** ******, *** we’ve *** * ****** of ***** ****** ******* we **** ****** ** input *** **** *** the ********* *** ******.

False ****** ******With this system you can expect some false alerts, he said. His pets still set off the motion alerts when no one is home, despite having techs come out three times to calibrate the system.

Camera ******

**** ****** **** *****’* have * ****** ** part ** *** ****, he’s ******** **** **** aspect ** *** ****** because *** ****** *** the **** **** **** two ****** *** *** outdoor *******. *** ******* can ** ******* ***** or *** ** ****** on ******. ** *** a ****** **** ******* five ******* ****** **** event *** ** ******* after *** ***** ** over *** ***** *** alerts ** * **********’* phone *** *****.

*** **** **** ****** don’t ******* ** **** by *******, *** ******* don’t ****** ** **** alerts, **** ****. *** mother ***** **** *** the **** *** ***** her *** *** ****** into *** *****. ***** were ** ********* ***** defined *** *** ******* so ***** *** ** video ** *** *****.

“*** **** ** ****** the ****** *** ****. Even ** **’* ******, then *** **** ** set ****. *** *** set ******* ***** **** when ******* ***** * door ** ** ****** any ****** **** ****** during ******* *****. ** your ***** *** ******, but *** ***’* *** the ******* ** ****** video ***** **** **** then ***’** *.*.*.,” ** said. *** ** **** the ****** ** *** to ****** *** ****** that ****** ** *****.

Camera *******Subscribers can watch images live from the touch screen or the app at about 10fps. The quality is “good enough to make out what is going on and see faces pretty well but not enough to read license plates or anything like that,” he said.

****, “*** *** * lot ** ******* ******** it ******* *** ***, but ** *** ** better **** * **,” he ****. ** ********** worked ** *** *********** and **** *** ****** from *** ****** *** on *** **** **** he’s **** **** *********** home ************ *******.

*** **** ****** *****, the ****** ********** **** ** *** subscriber’s *****.

Comcast ********

******** ********* ******** ** Mark's ****** ******** ** to **** **** *** of ***** ************** ******.

"**** ** *** * normal ******** **********," * spokesman **** ** *****.

*** ************ **** **** the ******* **** "*** approved" ****** ********* **** are **** ** "*********** the **** **** ****** have ****,"*** ***** *** **** a ****** *** **** was ***** ******* ***** alerts. ** **** **** the ***** ** *** tablet ****** ** **** enough ** **** ********** the *****, *** ***** screen *******'* ****** *** that **'* ***** ***** of *** **** ******** router ********** ******** ******.

"** **** ** **** technicians *** ** ** a ****** **** *** fix *** ****** ***** things," ** ****.

Comments (1)

Thanks for taking the time to provide a good overview of the system capabilities. Going back to the bulletized list of Xfinity issues, I began to think that some issues might be endemic within the industry, while others might be "fixable." I wonder if IPVM readers can share their expectations on which might be endemic?

My guess is,

  • Internet speed penalty (unrelated to monitoring)
  • Touchscreen glitchy (another provider might fix this)
  • False motion still a problem (not sure, another provider _might_ fix this)
  • Camera Latency (not sure, another provider _might_ fix this)
  • Camera Selection (another provider might fix this, especially if augmented with local recording)

Recently, IPVM had a good discussion (Useless As Evidence, Judge Rejects Video) that addressed some motion capture and retention issues. I have come to feel that a more robust capability ought to be multilevel. You might locally record and retain 100% of the video, but with detected motion somehow flagged so that after one or two days, non-motion-flagged video is discarded, then after greater interval or when storage is full, the oldest motion-flagged video will be discarded. This seems to offer robust utility with low probability of failed capture and storage. I don't know if any VMS or appliance offers such a capability though.

Our video monitoring setups experience camera latency over the internet, but since it's modest (less than 5 seconds) it hasn't raised any issues for us. I'm curious if Mark can characterize the latency he's experiencing, and perhaps even provide an example in which it's material (eg our video latency precludes use as a video phone but doesn't appear to impair other functions).

Reviewing my comments, I may appear to be an apologist for Comcast. For the record, I've not been in a location that required use of Comcast for many years, have no regrets at moving on, and have no affiliation with Comcast. My only thoughts were, it's good to set expectations because there's a possibility that the issues you raise may not be corrected through another vendor, and particularly the ease of use cannot be assumed so you have one good thing going for you. Just thought it might be helpful to explore expectations through the context of the IPVM subscribers, many of whom are deeply knowledgeable within this field.

Again, thanks for taking the time to put together a very thorough and clear treatment. I really enjoyed and learned from it.

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