Government Internet Freedom Technology

Comcast Turns 50,000 Paying Customer Modems Into Public Hotspots – 8 Million More By The End Of 2014

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Two days ago, Comcast turned 50,000 residential Xfinity modems into public WiFi hotspots. There are plans to force this upon millions more by the end of 2014 — for Comcast’s customers, though, this is egregious monopolistic overreach taken to the next level… and it’s possibly illegal as well.

Apparently they are allowed to do this (according to the fine print on your rental agreement) on their Arris Touchstone Modems. If you have elected to use your own modem then it is hands off.

Comcast customers were apparently informed that this was going to happen but there are many questions.

First what is going to happen to the bandwidth/ Will it slow down the “network”? Comcast says “NO”. But the reality is that it probably will, and the end result will be higher fees placed upon its end users and other providers like Netflix.

Also, where is all that extra bandwidth coming from? If they had it to begin with why are they not providing it to the paying customers? Well we know the answer to that….

A bit of technical background of how this would work: Comcast remotely programmed the Arris modems to broadcast a new wireless network SSID — that gives about 10 minutes of free access to anyone, or unlimited access to other Comcast customers.

Apparently the new wireless network is completely separate from your existing home network, and that public WiFi users don’t have access to any shared files or resources.

Yeah Right… Even if protected the entire world knows that you can not keep hackers out for long.

The official Xfinity WiFi Home Hotspot FAQ clarifies a few other points, too, such as the max limit on concurrent free WiFi users (five), and how to disable the feature (log into and click the Users & Preferences section).

The FAQ does note, however, that “there can be some impact as more devices share WiFi” because both networks share the same slice of 2.4GHz or 5GHz spectrum. From what we know about WiFi congestion and the importance of using the right channel, just having one person using your Xfinity WiFi could significantly slow down your own WiFi network.

Is Comcast breaking the law? They do not think so.


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