Comcast has started rolling out something that would be inconceivable if it was any other company that attempted it. Even if there is potential goodness here, do you really trust Comcast with what I am about to explain?
Recently Comcast turned 50,000 residential Xfinity modems into public WiFi hotspots. There are 50,000 paying Xfinity customers in Houston, Texas who are now broadcasting free WiFi that anyone can use. As far as Comcast is concerned, of course, this is a “genius move” to blanket the country in high-speed WiFi for Comcast’s customers. First I believe there are going to be major legal issues brought up as a result of this and second, Comcast plans to continue rolling this “genius” plan out could potentially have a negative impact in your broadband performance.
Over the last couple of years, Comcast has been distributing the Arris Touchstone Telephony Wireless Gateway Modem to new customers. Here is where is get’s scary. Comcast remotely programmed these modems to broadcast a new wireless network SSID — “xfinitywifi” — that gives about 10 minutes of free access to anyone, or unlimited access to other Comcast customers. Comcast says 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. Regardless of Comcast’s suggestions that this move to use residential routers as public hotspot in “no way” jeopardizes our personal information or internet performance is not going to be accepted by the majority.
To make this even worse Comcast has released an Xfinity WiFi app for finding nearby hotspots — and yes, if your residential modem has been co-opted by Comcast, it will show on the map. I can just see it now, a vehicles finds your house on the “Xfinity WiFi app” and cars park in front of your house while the driver gets online.
I mentioned this above as well, but another problem in addition to the possible risk of personal data, regardless of Comcast’s assurances that this wont happen is the possible degradation of your home internet speed.
With 50,000 hotspots already enabled in Houston, 150,000 more planned for the end of the month, and then 8 million more across Xfinity hotspots across the US before the end of 2014, one can assume that Comcast has a lot of extra capacity. Either that, or it’s intentionally trying to clog up the network for its paying customers perhaps so it can levy further charges from related providers like Netflix.
What do you think, do you want Comcast using your connection as a “public hotpost”?