Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Comcast Turning Customer Connections Into Massive Public Wi-Fi Hotspot Network

Comcast Xfinity subscribers take note, Comcast is actively rolling out an update to your service you may not even be aware of. An update that turns on a little known feature enabling your Xfinity router to be turned into a public hotspot!

Comcast is making headlines this week and not in a good way! We've already seen a number of stories, most notably from The Houston Chronicle, detailing the on-going roll-out of the new Comcast Xfinity Wifi service. The service, when switched on, provides internet access to Xfinity subscribers through the use of other current Xfinity subscriber's internet connections.

At the heart of the story: Comcast is turning some of the Wi-Fi routers placed in the homes of current subscribers into a “massive public Wi-Fi hotspot network,” but it’s doing so without giving customers the opportunity to opt out before the service is rolled out.

The new Xfinity Wifi service roll-out is in fact not new and the spread has been in effect for some time. However, it is just now starting to garner the attention it deserves!

Comcast says the hotspot – which appears as “xfinitywifi” to those searching for a Wi-Fi connection – is completely separate from the home network. Someone accessing the Net through the hotspot can’t get to the computers, printers, mobile devices, streaming boxes and more sitting on the host network. Comcast officials also say that people using the Internet via the hotspot won’t slow down Internet access on the home network. Additional capacity is allotted to handle the bandwidth.

However, we feel a bit skeptical of those claims. Security is always a concern when you have any outside access. There may also be concerns over piracy and other malicious acts. Even though Comcast assures users that they shouldn't be liable for any actions taken on the Xfinity WiFi as it’s set on a different track from your own.

How To Disable Comcast Xfinity WiFi Hotspot

Several different models of Wi-Fi routers are affected by this change-over, and Comcast does allow the service to be shut off. If you’ve got an Arris Touchstone Telephony Wireless Gateway Modem from Comcast, it’s likely you have or will have "xfinitywifi" turned on at some point. To turn this service off, you have only to do the following:

  • Log into your Comcast account page at
  • 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

Users only have the opportunity to disable the service after it’s activated. Meaning if you do not see a "Manage Xfinity Wi-fi" link, you do not have a home hotspot active. If you do not have a home hotspot active, you will not be able to disable it - because it isn’t there. A Comcast FAQ section further details Xfinity Wi-Fi.

Personally I hate opt-out services! Even though Comcast reportedly sent out notices about the hotspot feature, and email notifications will supposedly go out after it’s turned on, the feature is being turned on without its subscribers’ prior consent and you have to take action to not participate. I feel that should be the other way around. Comcast should have to get user consent before switching on the service. After all how many of us out there really read all those notices coming from Comcast?

What are your thoughts? Should customer be concerned that their internet connections are being opened up for public use? Share your thoughts in a comment below!

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