Comcast Details X1 ‘Upgrade Fee’

Existing Comcast customers that can't wait to switch over the MSO’s fancy new X1 platform and all of its cloud-fed goodies will also need to be prepared to fork over an “upgrade fee” of up to $99, depending on the market.

The DSLReports message board has been a source of chatter about the fees this week, with some Comcast customers noting that they’ve been alerted that they’ll be subject to a one-time X1 upgrade fee in the range of $49.99 to $99.  

Comcast sheds more light on the fee on this customer care Web page that was last updated on February 4. “The X1 Platform Upgrade Fee is a one-time fee of up to $99 that is assessed, with limited exceptions that vary by market, when a customer signs up for the X1 Platform,” it reads.

Comcast notes that the fees go toward the development and enhancement of X1 features, which today include voice-based navigation and search, personalized recommendations, and access to a menu of IP-fed sports, weather, stocks and news widgets, and third-party apps such as Facebook and Pandora.

Comcast, which offers X1 in all its markets, has been putting new X1 customers on the MSO's next-gen cloud-based interface (pictured at left) and is in the process of migrating existing X1 subs to the new platform, which is internally referred to as the "X2." Starting in Boston, Comcast is also beginning to match X1 with a new cloud services package that includes a cloud DVR, apps that can stream live TV to mobile devices on the customer’s home network, and the ability to sideload DVR-recorded content to tablets and smartphones for offline playback. 

X1 also requires a new device. At this stage of the rollout, Comcast is powering the service with hybrid QAM/IP, six-tuner HD-DVRs sourced from Pace and Arris.

Comcast confirmed that the one-time fee is only for existing customers, and that it’s one of several options being offered to subscribers who  wish to upgrade to X1. Those customers also have the option to upgrade to qualifying double- or triple-play bundles in lieu of paying the upgrade fee. While the fee appears to be particularly tailored to existing video-only customers who want to upgrade to X1, it could also be applied to Comcast double- and triple-play customers who also want to get X1 but don't want to upgrade to a different service package or bundle.

Comcast has deployed X1 across its systems. In most of those markets, Comcast is pitching X1 primarily to new triple-play and double-play customers.

“Customer demand for our X1 platform remains high. We know customers are eager to experience it and we are we working to get this game-changing operating system to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible,” the company said, in a statement.