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For decades, many Utahns have been watching television through Comcast. Now, the state's biggest cable TV provider wants to watch your home.
Comcast announced Thursday the Utah launch of Xfinity Home, a security and monitoring service that provides protection against break-ins and also allows homeowners to control certain features in the house remotely.
Comcast's entry into the security/home management field could make it a major competitor of Vivint, the Utah-based home security company that says it also has become the leader in the new field of home automation.
"We are flattered that Comcast is following our lead," Alex Dunn, Vivint's chief operating officer, said in a statement. "It will be interesting to see if customers will trust a cable company to provide the quality of service necessary to protect their families."
Vivint changed its name from APX in February of 2011 and launched itself into home automation in addition to its home security products. The company had 171,409 installs of its security service and nearly 50 percent of those included home automation features, a spokeswoman said.
Orem-based Pinnacle Security also is a competitor in home security.
As with other home security services, Xfinity Home includes 24/7 security with police and fire protection that is tied to a service center. Whenever there is a break-in through a door, window or garage, sensors can alert a Comcast central office that then contacts authorities.
"It's a full-featured system that's only going to get better," said Mitch Bowling, Comcast's senior vice president and general manager for new businesses.
Bowling says Comcast's system also offers what he calls "lifestyle" features. Homeowners can remotely turn lights on or off, change the temperature or monitor areas of the house with wireless webcams. The webcams also can record 15-second clips that can be saved for viewing later.
Ray Child, Comcast spokesman for Utah, has the system in his house and enjoys being able to peek in while away, whether it is an emergency or just the opportunity to see his family.
"My wife was holding our grandson when I was out, and I asked her to move closer to the camera," Child said. "It was like an Apple Facetime moment."
The entire system is tied to a central touchscreen unit in which the homeowner can be alerted whenever a door or window opens. It also can be set to alert the homeowner by text or email.
All of those functions also can be accessed via new iPad and iPhone apps that soon will be available for Android phones.
The service costs $39.95 per month with a three-year commitment and $199 for a basic installation, which includes sensors for four doors and a touchpad controller. Webcams are extra.
Comcast is not the first cable television company to offer this kind of home security service. Time Warner and Cox also provide it, and Rogers in Canada will soon.
Bowling said Comcast has been considering offering security and home-monitoring systems for about five years.
"But we were waiting to offer this kind of service for a competitive price, and the technology has rapidly improved in order for this to happen," he said.
The service, which already is in 10 markets, is expected to be deployed in the rest of the country this year, he said.
This is the second service unrelated to Comcast's core cable television and Internet services that the company has launched. Last year, Comcast debuted in Utah its Signature Support service in which it provides technical support for a variety of electronic devices, from phones to personal computers.
Reporter Tom Harvey contributed to this story.
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