Comcast wants to use your router to help start their national Wi-Fi network

by: William Neilson JrJune 14, 2014

comcast.001-700x525 Benswann

Comcast plans to turn wireless Internet routers in private homes around the country into publicly available Wi-Fi hotspots. Comcast will offer Wi-Fi from roughly 8 million hotspots in 19 of the largest U.S. cities. About 3 million of the hotspots were expected to be active by this week.

The gateway generates a second encrypted network signal named “xfinitywifi” visible to anyone with Web-enabled device within range. None of the activity on the “xfinitywifi” network will counted against the homeowners account.

Arris TM722 Comcast DOCSIS 3.0 Modem - Box from Best Buy Trevacz

Many look at this move as Comcast’s next step towards becoming a wireless carrier and fighting it out with AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. Last year, when Comcast sold wireless spectrum to Verizon, it was agreed that Comcast could access Verizon’s wireless network therefore allowing callers to go between the Wi-Fi networks and Verizon’s cellular network.

Comcast says less than 1 percent of customers in other regions have chosen to opt out of the service. Chances are good that the reason for this low number is due to Comcast forcing customers to opt out of this program if they don’t want their modems to be used. Additionally, it costs Comcast basically nothing as they now have the customers to pay for the rollout.

One of my concerns is whether Comcast is positive about how the modems will be affected.

As PCWorld notes:

This may be a legitimate concern, especially for areas that have lots of apartment buildings and multi-tenant dwellings within close proximity of one another. In my building, just about every apartment has a Wi-Fi router. Those routers are transmitting on the same channels for their 2.4GHz and 5GHz signals, leading to RF competition. Now, if you take that scenario and give everyone in that apartment another wireless network to broadcast, those networks are competing, too, and adding to interference. Comcast’s FAQ about Xfinity’s hotspots doesn’t go into any details about channels and bands, but the company should be clear about how adding these hotspot networks affects the performance of existing WLANs—especially in business use.

My next concern deals with security.

As Gizmodo asks:

Do you really want to share a connection with someone you don’t know doing whatever they do on the internet through your connection? What if they’re downloading ‘Game of Thrones’ illegally? What if they’re really into child porn? What if they’re hacking into the Pentagon?

Or TechCrunch:

The bottom line is that Comcast is using your house/apartment as a corporate resource. They’re using your electricity. They’re using your Internet connection (although they claim they aren’t) and they’re opening up your private browsing to potential hackers. While Comcast will claim that these two streams are independent, there is nothing to stop a dedicated hacker from figuring out how to snoop data passing through the router. There is also nothing to stop someone from downloading illicit material, software, and other junk from your hotspot and then reporting you for theft or worse. Again, it’s all ostensibly secure, but, like all things, it really isn’t.

Comcast priority graphic

At the end of the day, Comcast has promised that someone’s home network won’t be slowed down or hacked with a good password.

Why would someone not trust Comcast?

Those who own their modems won’t be affected.

  • Cl3v3rNaMe

    what a bunch of idiots, ur bandwith isn’t big enough to watch youtube or netflix but it is large enough for 10 people to surf on simultaneously.

    • BernieBastinaly

      Jacqueline implied I’m taken by surprise that a mom can earn $8130 in 1 month
      on the computer . see post F­i­s­c­a­l­p­o­s­t­.­C­O­M­

      • Gator352

        So mom is gettin’ naked and doing lewd things huh?

      • xlSamsonlx

        Who the fuck is Jacqueline?

  • Guest

    Please come to Philly, Google Fiber. :(

  • MasterMuffin

    And how hard is the opt-out? Are customers informed with something else than just an email? This is seriously so stupid that I don’t even…

    Say hello to slower WiFi :)

  • John Sisco

    Bit torrents is the problem with bandwidth, slow speeds? Maybe it is the equipment u are using? Those who complain will be the first out in town connecting to the hotspots.

    • Sean

      Not true. I had Comcast for a year and shut it off a few months ago. I never used their hotspots because they were too slow anyways. They’re like 1Mbps.

      • John Sisco

        Depends on where u are and the tech who does your install our hotspots here are 50 mbps down and 25 mbps up.

        • Sean

          That I’d like to see. But I don’t have Comcast anymore anyways because quite simply they’re the most expensive company and they have the worst service. They try scaring you about satellite signals but my Comcast Cable went out more often then it has with either dish or DirecTV. And Comcasts modems are cheap crap. I had to buy a separate Asus router just to keep a consistent WiFi signal. This $30 Asus router keeps a steady 40+ download speed and it rarely needs to be rebooted. Every Comcast modem I had needed multiple reboots daily or the wireless speeds would drop from 50 down to 0-3.

        • josh

          Agreed..I get 30-35mbs download speeds consistantly…I’ll tell ya something else, no better way to combat the ever increasing data limits our mobile providers are saddling us with; than to offer free WiFi virtually everywhere

  • Fredy Krueger Lopez

    I remember when we had data caps in Sweden… Back in the 90s.

  • Bob Reilley

    I wouldn’t allow that crap in my house. Sounds like a security nightmare not to mention they aren’t paying my electricity bill.

  • pedro

    This method is used in Belgium for about 3 years now, we has clients have the option to turn off this feature.I don’t have any issue with that and is always handy to have access to WiFi everywhere I go.

    • Happy

      Yes, we always have to read about US carriers on all these tech blog sites as if these are the only operators in the world. I was the network architect who designed the system in Belgium ( more specifically the one of Belgacom, because there are a couple in Belgium). It is based on FON exactly as the one of BT mentioned above and as many networks throughout Europe and the world). If the system is well designed there is no risk that someone will do illegal things and you will get the blame (their signal goes through a separate tunnel) and that the visitors will eat from your bandwidth(owner’s traffic gets priority). For the electricity of course it will be your electricity.

  • Nick

    I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but we have a similar system in the UK if you use BT. You allow a second wifi network to operate and in return you get to use anyone else’s. It’s actually pretty handy, especially as BT phone boxes and other major retailers let you hop on to their networks.

    • I had a 15 blimp parade all ready, I was gonna have a marching band and everything…. Thanks a lot

  • Brian Dong Min Kim

    Google, please invest more money into Google Fiber..

    • Lisandro O Oocks

      Shareholder or potential shareholder, please invest more money into Google..

    • smokebomb

      They could throw a trillion dollars at it and it wouldn’t go any faster. The hold up is city ordinances, planning, and of course, Comcast/cable industry lobbying.

  • FOG

    That’s very similar to what Free is offering in France. However prices are reasonnable in France!

    FYI 16 EUR is about 22 USD

    • smokebomb

      Multiply that by 3 and you’ve got the unregulated price we’ll get here in the U.S.

  • Keith Thomas

    Um, wouldn’t that leave you legally responsible under current laws for what someone pirates using your router? Let’s say someone parks on the street near your place, logs into your Wi-Fi, and downloads The Dallas Buyers Club. Now, the producers of TDBC sue YOU. Even though it’s an encrypted channel, wouldn’t it still be your ISP address?

  • socialismstinks

    Optimum (Cablevision) has been doing this with free router offers, and no mention anywhere. I received one, but immediately noticed my network now had another user (Optimum Wi-Fi). I went back to my my Netgear dual band router (it worked better anyway).

  • Yaritza Miranda

    Please do it with Led Lampen