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Comcast clarifies its free Xfinity Flex offer for internet-only customers

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In September, Comcast announced that it would be making its Xfinity Flex TV streaming box free for all of its internet-only customers. However, it turns out that not all internet-only customers will be getting the free offer — at least not right away.

If you rent your cable modem/router from Comcast, you get the Xfinity Flex for free, instead of needing to pay the usual $5 per month rental, and that offer was effective when the deal was announced. But Comcast failed to mention that the offer wasn’t quite ready for all of its customers, which led to a somewhat scathing report by The Verge claiming that the offer had disguised a hidden $13 per month fee (the amount of the modem/router rental).

Digital Trends contacted Comcast to get to the bottom of the issue. Here’s the company’s official comment:

When available later this year, Internet-only customers will not need to lease a gateway from Comcast to get Flex. Internet-only customers will be able to get Flex with the Xfinity-compatible gateway of their choosing. (More information on compatible equipment can be found here: https://mydeviceinfo.xfinity.com). And Xfinity Internet-only customers who currently lease our gateway can get Flex added to their account today at no additional cost.

So, bottom line? You do not need to rent your equipment from Comcast to get in on the free Xfinity Flex deal, but you can’t get it right away. Comcast declined to tell us exactly when “later this year” would be, but when pushed on the subject, we were told it would be “really soon.”

Launched in March 2019, Xfinity Flex was previously a $5 per month additional fee for internet-only Comcast subscribers.

Xfinity Flex is an IPTV product that packages up popular streaming apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, etc., along with free sources of streaming content such as YouTube, Pluto TV, Tubi TV, and Xumo in one easy-to-navigate experience. A new “Free to me” section within the Flex guide lets you see the more than 10,000 free shows and movies that are available via the free streaming options, according to Comcast. NBCUniversal’s Peacock service will be a future add-on option, as will Hulu. Flex users can buy or rent movies and shows via the built-in digital store, and if you’re a Movies Anywhere customer you can access your locker from the Flex interface too.

It’s all done on the Xfinity Flex set-top box, a small footprint 4K UHD device that comes with a voice-capable remote. Internet-only customers get the Flex box, the remote, and the option to lease additional Flex boxes for their other TVs at $5 per month.

Xfinity Flex provides cord-cutters with a well-designed tool that aggregates all of their streaming options in one place and in so doing, effectively creates a new competitor for Apple’s TV App, which aims to do the same thing. Xfinity Flex can also act as an internet and smart home control center, with options like seeing your Wi-Fi passwords, turning on and off Wi-Fi access to various devices in the home, viewing video feeds from their cameras and arming or disarming their home security systems.

Even more importantly from Comcast’s perspective, later this year, Flex subscribers can upgrade to the full range of Xfinity X1 cable channels — including a DVR function — should they decide that cutting the cord has proven too much of a sacrifice from a TV perspective.

If you’re an existing Flex subscriber, you should see your $5 per month fee automatically disappear from your bill, but if it doesn’t, contact Comcast to get it removed. If you’re an internet-only customer who wants to get on board with the free offer, you need to call or drop by a Comcast Xfinity retail store to pick up the free set-top box.

We’ll update this article once Comcast announces that the free offer has been made available to its non-rental-based internet-only customers.

Updated October 23, 2019: Added new details affecting Comcast internet-only customers who don’t rent their modem/router from the company.

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Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
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