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Comcast: Our new app will make fixing your internet much less frustrating

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor
Comcast hopes its new internet service will finally win you over.

Comcast wants to improve its relationship with you, the customer. To do that, it’s rolling out a new system that simplifies how you set up, connect to and use your home Wi-Fi network. And the company hopes it will make you swoon.

Stopped laughing yet? Good, because Comcast, one of the most hated companies in America, might actually pull it off. Well, you probably won’t swoon, but you get the picture.

Comcast’s (CMCSA) new system includes an easy-to-use app that holds your hand as it helps you set up your internet connection and gateway — a combination router and modem that your rent from Comcast for about $10 a month. Importantly, the system also helps you troubleshoot issues with your various connected devices.

“We think that great internet and the experience of great internet is more than just fast bandwidth to your wall that’s reliable,” explained Comcast chief product officer, Chris Satchell. “Because so much of that then goes wrong inside the home. It’s either so complex or you wonder why something isn’t working.“

It’s that last part that truly helps inform Comcast’s decision to launch its new network system. Think about it. If your internet connection to your Roku or Apple TV regularly goes to pot and keeps your from being able to stream “The Bachelor,” you most likely blame your service provider regardless of whether that’s true or not.

Comcast has rolled out a new, more user-friendly way to set up and manage your home network.

Comcast, Satchell said, realizes this fact and has decided to do all it can to address issues with your devices and internet service to keep you happy.

“I think we feel responsible for the internet all the way up to their device. You have to have a system like this, a service like this, so that you can make your home connectivity really work for you,” Satchell said.

To do that Comcast’s new system allows you to see how the connection status of all of your devices on your network via a smartphone app. If any of your gadgets experiences connection issues, you’ll receive an alert telling you there’s a problem.

The app will then walk you through some basic steps that can improve your connectivity, such as moving your device out of its cabinet so that it can receive a clearer signal. Comcast says the app will also tell you if your internet connection or your device is the problem.

That alone is worth the price of admission.

“We deliver premium services, so we feel we should give them the best features,” Satchell said. “Plus it just helps you troubleshoot the problems you have and do that quickly and easily rather than have to call us or wait for us to solve it.”

Comcast’s hopes to eventually manage your entire smart home.

In addition to helping you identify issues you might have with your connected devices, Comcast’s new system also helps streamline the initial network setup process.

When you first sign up with Comcast and receive your combination modem/ router, you’ll be able to download an app to your smartphone that guides you through the setup process.

That kind of simplicity reminded me a lot of the install process for competing third-party routers like Google Wi-Fi, Eero and Luma. Satchell, however, said Comcast had been working on its experience for some time, and that seeing other companies use a similar setup mechanism proved Comcast was on the right track.

Comcast’s new system can also connect to your existing X1 television service, meaning you can check your network’s signal strength from your TV. And thanks to X1’s voice controls, you can ask your network to pause all connections without pressing a button.

Of course, part of the reason the success of Comcast’s system is so important to the company is because it gives subscribers a reason to rent a Comcast network gateway. Normally, I recommend that people purchase their own modem and router rather than pay the $10 per month rental fee their cable companies charge for using their gateways.

But to use Comcast’s new system you also need to use the company’s gateway, you’ve got to fork over that extra $10 a month, something the internet provider will be more than happy to collect.

“We’d love to get customers on our products, and so we’d love to give people a reason not to have to go build their own solutions with a third-party modem or a third-party router,” Satchell said.

“If we can improve your service we hope churn reduces, satisfaction increases and people say, ‘I like my service, I love my service.’ And for me that’s what I’d love to get to,” he added.

If Comcast’s system ends up being as easy to set up and user-friendly when it launches in the first half of this year, the company may finally be able to put its “most hated” status firmly in its past.

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