Episode 105: Comcast’s platform plans revealed

This week there were two big stories in the internet of things. The first is that Google Home has expanded the number of companies it works with, adding Rachio, Wink, August and more. The other story is that Congress has repealed rules that prevented ISPs from selling your personal data. This will open up consumers’ search history to ISPs and marketers, but Kevin and I discuss what it means for your smart home devices and data. We also discuss IKEA’s new smart home products, Kevin’s poor Z-wave lock experience and hacked commercial dishwashers.

This week’s guest is in charge of a smart home platform that aims to take over a huge number of homes in the US. Daniel Herscovici is the head of Comcast’s Xfinity Home program, and he has some big ambitions. We talk about the purchase of iControl, why Comcast isn’t keen on Zigbee and why Comcast isn’t sweating standards. It’s a fun show.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: Daniel Herscovici of Comcast
Sponsors: Samsung ARTIK

  • Ikea has smart home ambitions
  • Google Home… is it good enough?
  • How to protect your IoT devices from your ISP
  • Comcast wants to be the base platform for the smart home
  • Standards aren’t holding back innovation

Published by

Stacey Higginbotham

I am a journalist who has covered technology for over a decade at publications such as Fortune, PCMag, Gigaom, The Deal and BusinessWeek.

2 thoughts on “Episode 105: Comcast’s platform plans revealed”

  1. Stacey please get the facts right. Congress didn’t change anything. Congress stopped a rule from going into effect. Therefore nothing has changed. Anything ISPs were doing before is what they’ll continue doing now. Please don’t report it as if anything has changed.

    I’m not saying it’s good or bad, I’m just saying that nothing new is going into effect. If people are concerned about privacy now, they should have been concerned about it for years.

    When you report it the way you did it puts an unnecessary political spin on it. As they used to say on the TV show Dragnet, “just the facts m’aam”.

    1. I explained this to my husband this morning, because he thought the same thing. However, ISPs have been trying to use this data in the past, and what has stopped them was Congressional hearings associated with consumer outrage back in 2008. And then when AT&T tried to harness consumer web surfing data in 2014 as part of its gigabit broadband plans, the FCC started asking questions and tried to implement a rule that would prevent what AT&T was already doing. Selling consumer data has long been a goal of the ISPs who are frustrated that Google, Facebook and other providers have the ability to sell data while they remain locked by the threat of FCC regulations.

      What Congress did was take the threat of FCC oversight away from the ISPs. So while technically true that this stops a rule that did not go into effect, the rule was put in place because the ISPs were once again trying to sell consumer data. This isn’t political. ISP’s have been trying to monetize user data for the last decade and each time something has stopped them. Now, there’s not really anything to stop them from trying again. And there’s every reason to think that after 10 years of trying ISPs will sell this data.

      For background on the NebuAd and Phorm issues try this: https://gigaom.com/2008/08/06/congressional-scrutiny-hurting-nebuad/
      For background on AT&T’s gigabit plans, try this: https://gigaom.com/2014/05/13/atts-gigapower-plans-turn-privacy-into-a-luxury-that-few-would-choose/
      And this: https://gigaom.com/2015/03/03/atts-privacy-plan-may-be-short-lived-and-may-not-even-be-as-bad-as-we-think/

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