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, updated 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.
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), and Comcast will push more bandwidth your direction to compensate for additional strain on your line.
A few months back, connection-bonding outfit Speedify issued a report highlighting how Comcast's sharing routers would cost users around $23 per year in additional power costs
(not much individually, but significant at scale). Comcast contested the findings, sending the company a newer Cisco router (DPC3939B) to test. To hear Speedify tell it
, the additional power consumption actually got worse with the new hardware Comcast provided:
The idle power is as high as the peak power from the old devices that I complained about last time. Meanwhile, the new router under Xfinity public WiFi load only translates to about $8 extra in electricity costs per year, which no longer seems like much next to the $20-28 per year it’s pulling while idle. The bottom-line is that the new box uses more electricity than a traditional router, but it’s worth noting that the new router is a combination of all the separate hardware components you used to need to get online.
The report also laments that the new units are, as you'd expect with new hardware, somewhat buggy. Your thoughts? Do you mind the small additional costs in order to expand Comcast's network of public Wi-Fi hotspots?