Comcast to roll out X1 service to TWC markets


Comcast-XIWithin a year after its acquisition of Time Warner Cable closes, Comcast says it aims to make its advanced X1 cable service available in Time Warner Cable markets including New York and Los Angeles. Most, if not all Comcast markets currently offer the upgrade.

“We’ll be within the first markets in a year,” Neil Smit, CEO of Comcast’s cable unit, told Reuters.

The new technology would “bring considerably higher Internet speeds to Time Warner Cable customers” in those cities, Smit said, and give them access to such X1 services as Internet applications, viewing recommendations and voice control.

Features offered by the cloud-connected X1 cable box system could help Comcast pick up subscribers in major cities where Time Warner Cable’s growth has stalled in recent years. Gaining entry to the New York and Los Angeles markets was part of the strategic rationale behind Comcast’s offer to buy TWC.

Time Warner Cable’s new advanced cable boxes should be capable of running Comcast’s X1 operating system, Smit said in a recent interview NCTA in Los Angeles, making the transition easier.

Smit was unable to say how much the upgrades and rollout will cost. He said the timing can still change, depending on the state of the acquired systems, which Comcast has not been able to assess in depth: “Basically you want to enable enough data to pass through the network to deliver to the needs of the customer whether it’s television channels or broadband.”

Time Warner Cable has already been upgrading its capabilities in several high-priority markets, such as Los Angeles and New York, which will accelerate the rollout, Smit told Reuters.

X1 features a modern user interface that enables one-click access to programs and a visual guide to entertainment options and related info. It provides a personalized viewing experience with recommendations based on search input and previously watched shows and movies. X1 offers the ability to search simultaneously across live TV, Xfinity on Demand and DVR recordings – and see the last nine programs watched across all services. Users can watch DVR recordings from any room in the house and simultaneously record up to four shows while watching another

It also offers TV-centric apps including social networking, traffic, weather, Pandora and a sports app helps track multiple games at once and check the latest scores, standings, and schedules while watching a favorite show.

X1 also has the ability to display web pages, like one that features streaming video, directly to the X1 set top box and view it on the big screen. An enhanced remote does not require a line-of-sight connection to the set-top-box. Users can also use motions, gestures, and voice commands to control their TVs with their Apple handheld devices.

See the Reuters story here.