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A Comcast SVP explains the company’s biggest priority for the year

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

To set itself apart from competitors, Comcast is prioritizing Xfinity XFi this year, Comcast SVP Fraser Stirling told Business Insider.

XFi is a mobile app that lets Comcast customers set up wifi networks, troubleshoot network issues, see what 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, an AI-powered assistant that will 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 has 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 British broadcaster Sky, which was recently acquired by Comcast, is exploring how to deploy xFi across Europe.

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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