As cable companies try to differentiate themselves in a competitive market, Comcast thinks its secret weapon is an app that lets it talk directly to consumers

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As cable companies try to differentiate themselves in a competitive market, Comcast thinks its secret weapon is an app that lets it talk directly to consumers

Cable companies want to differentiate themselves in a broadband market rife with competition.

To set itself apart, Comcast is prioritizing Xfinity xFi this year, Comcast’s senior vice president Fraser Stirling told Business Insider.

xFi is an app that’s accessible on mobile, web, and TV and lets Comcast customers set up Wi-Fi networks, troubleshoot network issues, see which devices are connected to their networks, and block or pause connected devices. It displays all the devices in a household that are connected and the network activity on all of them.

Comcast is working to engage more deeply with customers through xFi, and sees it as a one-stop shop for everything from alerts to service broadband disruptions in the home to informing customers when a credit card is expiring. The next step will be giving customers more information about their network’s speed and capacity.

The company hopes all this will strengthen its relationship with customers and protect against churn.

Comcast’s share of the broadband market has grown. In the fourth quarter alone, Comcast added 351,000 broadband subscribers, a 5.2% year-over-year increase. Its closest cable competitor, Charter, added 289,000 and AT&T lost 32,000.

Read more: Meet the power players of Comcast who will do battle with Disney and Google in the year ahead

In the first quarter of this year, the company plans to launch Xfinity Assistant, a virtual assistant designed to allow users of the app to troubleshoot issues and schedule service appointments using voice commands.

Comcast also uses xFi to educate customers about technology. It tells people things like how many devices using hundreds of megabits of speed they can connect on a single network, which Stirling said had led to more informed and satisfied users.

Differentiating their broadband product is important to telecom companies as they try to retain customers. That Comcast, the largest pay-TV provider in the US, has more broadband customers than video customers shows how vital broadband service is to the company as traditional linear TV subscribers decline.

Stirling said the British broadcaster Sky, which was recently acquired by Comcast, is exploring how to deploy xFi across Europe.

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