comcast free wifiThis is so crazy, I really have to question if its true, but based on the story out of Seattle PI by Dwight Silverman, seems like this is really happening.  Comcast is planning on turning 150,000 comcast routers in Houston into citywide wireless hotspots! And without prior consent!  WTF??  According to Comcast, there is complete separation between your traffic and the traffic from the public, also the bandwidth will be increased to deal with the increased load.  You can ‘opt out’ but from what I have read its pretty hard and one reader commented that he has to try 4 times.  There are also steps provided by Dwight on how to turn it off.  I will include the instructions at the end of the post.

So here are a few things that really bug me.  The more power a router users to support traffic the power it takes up and the more heat it generate.  Yes we are talking pennies here, but still, Comcast is building a business on your power and hosting. WITHOUT asking you! And what if you are paying for highspeed service with spotty service?  So now that there could be even more demand on my spotty service, that means I actually WILL notice a slowdown regardless of how much bandwidth they add.  Which also begs another question, if my service has been slow and not up to the level I pay for, suddenly they can fix it?

Now in the realworld, how much will this really matter?  That really depends.  If you happen to live in an area where the public frequent, you might be feeling it. If you living in a residential area, most likely nothing much will change.  Remember only other Comcast users are suppose to have access to this service. According to the Comcast FAQ, here is how people can access your router.

Yes, you can access XFINITY WiFi with one of the following options:

  • XFINITY Internet subscribers get access to the fastest WiFi with the most coverage on the go at over 1,000,000 hotspot locations across the country. Explore XFINITY Internet deals.

  • Limited Free Trial: At select XFINITY WiFi hotspot locations, visitors are allowed two 60-minute complimentary sessions per month. You must wait 24 hours between sessions.

  • XFINITY WiFi Access Pass: Use XFINITY WiFi for an hour, a day or a week by purchasing an XFINITY WiFi Access Pass. XFINITY WiFi Access Passes are not available in all locations

Sigh. I’m blow away by this, I know that for 95% of the Comcast people this does not matter much, and in some ways, its a benefit; say someones comes over to visit, they can access the internet without you having to give them access; but given that Comcast is a monopoly and becoming an even bigger one, this is not a good sign.

As promised, here are the steps to stop public sharing of your Comcast Xfinity wifi from Dwight:

• Log into your Comcast account page at customer.comcast.com.

• Click on Users & Preferences.

• Look for a heading on the page for “Service Address.” Below your address, click the link that reads “Manage Xfinity WiFi.”

• Click the button for “Disable Xfinity Wifi Home Hotspot.”

• Click Save.

You can see screenshots of the process in the slideshow above. Note that this will only work once the hotspot is live on your router.

Some other details about the hotspots:

• Each hotspot actually contains separate connections for 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz Wi-Fi devices, and the Arris routers use the 802.11n standard.

• If you have one of the Arris modem/router combos, but are using your own Wi-Fi router, the Arris device won’t broadcast the free hotspot. Likewise if you are using your own modem as well as your own router.

• If you opt out of hosting a hotspot, you can still use others’ Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots with your Comcast login.