Comcast makes push for X1 in custom install market

As it aggressively showcases its X1 video product in the run to the platform's big coming-out party, the Rio Summer Olympic Games, Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) has opened the doors to its CXI unit, which supports the custom installation channel.

"We test the X1 with every device we can with a dedicated engineering group," said Neal Roberts, director of Comcast Special Operations, giving a detailed overview of his unit to CEPro. "That includes with surround sound, IR controls and all the home automation systems."

Formed in 2013 and operating out of Comcast's Denver offices, the CXI program provides a dedicated user ID to every technician employed by the more than 800 custom-installation companies it serves. 

"We often discover equipment problems even before the actual manufacturer knows about it," Roberts said.

The group operates a lab that tests the X1 platform with a vast configuration of displays, control systems, transmission methods, speakers and receivers. 

The unit includes an 11-member "Special Ops" team that helps integrators troubleshoot particularly gnarly technical issues. Using special software, the group can peer into the homes of installer clients, checking components, the MoCA transmission rates, the Wi-Fi, the number of STBs, HDCP encryption and more.

"A lot of the subscriber tech problems these days revolve around surround sound problems," Roberts added. 

Comcast isn't the only pay-TV operator to try to exploit the custom-install channel. Under the direction of custom-integration industry veteran Frank DeFilippis, Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) has completed integration of its Hopper DVR with control modules of leading home-automation suppliers AMX by Harman, Crestron, Pro Control, Control4 and RTI.

"We 'get' the custom industry … we understand. That's why we are 100 percent dedicated to this channel," Roberts said.

For more:
- read this CEPro story

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