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Comcast Turns Chicago Customer Routers Into Open Hotspots
by Karl Bode 01:22PM Wednesday Mar 05 2014 Tipped by FastEddie See Profile
In June of last year Comcast announced that the company was launching a new, Fon-like effort that involved new router firmware that turns your gateway into a publicly-accessible hotspot. More specifically, update routers would now offer two signals: one being yours, and the other being a "xfinitywifi" SSID signal providing free Wi-Fi to other Comcast users in your general area.

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Fortunately, users can disable this functionality if they don't want to share their bandwidth with strangers, but Comcast says this functionality is enabled by default. The public usage also thankfully doesn't count against your Comcast usage cap (if you have one in your market), but it will obviously consume some of your bandwidth (though Comcast claims they push a little extra bandwidth when the feature is active, so it all balances out).

The effort has been seeing scattered deployment, and in a few instances the new functionality has confused the hell out of some Comcast users, who didn't know they'd suddenly be offering free Wi-Fi to others.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Comcast this week started expanding the functionality into the Chicago area. Comcast subscribers simply have to enter their Comcast info, while non-subscribers can pay Comcast rates of $2.95 per hour up to $19.95 per week.


92 comments .. click to read

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ropeguru
Premium
join:2001-01-25
Mechanicsville, VA

2 recommendations

reply to morbo

Re: Should be opt-in only

Not only extra bandwidth, but lets go further for space leasing and power usage. I know it is minimal, but business is business. You could bet your ass that if it were reversed, Comcast would be expecting you to pay for space and power!


bjsc11002

join:2005-06-02
Palatine, IL

2 recommendations

xfinitywifi

so, what prevents a guy from naming his router "xfinitywifi" and setting up a login page that captures signons?



nothing00

join:2001-06-10
Centereach, NY

5 recommendations

reply to battleop

Re: ...and Comcast has the gall to charge users modem rental

said by battleop:

Oh good grief. I guess you could write that 12 cents a year off on your taxes as a loss.

You're kidding right?

You don't think the Comcast accountants aren't dancing around the room with the millions of dollars in infrastructure costs they've offloaded onto the consumer?


jseymour

join:2009-12-11
Waterford, MI

4 recommendations

I Don't Think So, Tim

Comcast can say what they want about how "separate" this is from your personal connection, but no security-minded IT person with a lick of sense would trust it. Not thumping on Comcast. This would apply to any such device from any manufacturer or service provider.

Only way I'd do that would be if there was a separate firewalling device between that router and my private network--in which case the WiFi portion would be worthless, to me, anyway. For that reasont: I wouldn't want it around, cluttering-up already-cluttered 2.4GHz wireless space.

Jim



hurleyp

join:2000-06-20
Ottawa, ON

2 recommendations

Rebate?

I might consider allowing this hotspottng if could get some kind of rebate or discount for granting permission.
--
"I reject your reality and substitute my own."



BimmerE38FN

join:2002-09-15
Boise, ID
kudos:1

2 recommendations

BOYM

Take the modem back and then go BOYM!!!



davidc502

join:2002-03-06
Mount Juliet, TN
kudos:1
Reviews:
·TDS

3 recommendations

reply to battleop

Re: Does it consumer your bandwidth?

said by battleop:

If you pay for 10/1 does the bandwidth come out of your 10/1 or do they provision your line for 20/2 and dedicated 10/1 to you and 10/1 to the hotspot?

Potentially having dozens of people logging into your router will use memory and cpu which will degrade service to some degree, depending on the number of people.

I would turn it off, and check wifi to make sure it hasn't been turned back on. You know Comcast is going to turn it back on


nothing00

join:2001-06-10
Centereach, NY

8 recommendations

reply to iansltx

Re: ...and Comcast has the gall to charge users modem rental

And they've got you paying their electric bill to provide their service too.



morbo
Complete Your Transaction

join:2002-01-22
00000
Reviews:
·Charter

6 recommendations

Should be opt-in only

"while non-subscribers can pay Comcast rates of $2.95 per hour up to $19.95 per week to use your bandwidth."

Great that Comcast wants to use your location to provide a service to other Comcast customers and paying, non-customers. Where exactly is the benefit to the homeowner? Unless additional bandwidth is assigned to the "xfinitywifi" SSID and limited at that level, the homeowners are basically giving away their service for zero benefit.