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June 24, 2013

Free Comcast WiFi Piggybacking on YOUR Router

Filed under: Computers,Internet — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:44 am

Comcast is making a generous offer until July 4th: use their WiFi network free:

Xfinity free wifi

Comcast promises that you can access over 100,000 hotspots just by looking for the XfinityWiFi or CableWiFi network name on your list of available networks. How can Comcast have so many hotspots?


You, the Comcast customer, are providing (many of) them, probably without even knowing it. According to published reports, new Comcast routers have two channels: one for the WiFi signal in your home for you to use, and a supposedly separate one for the public (or other Comcast customers to use). They say you won’t be charged and your service won’t be degraded when others tap into your Internet connection.

And to add insult to injury, you allow others to tap into your router by default, unless you affirmatively opt-out.

While the public is invited to tap into your router until July 4th (and for just two hours after that), in the future only other Comcast customers will be able to.

How do you feel about sharing your broadband Internet connection with strangers?


• • •


  1. Not a Comcast customer, but I think this is actually a great idea, provided that 1) it’s really a separate channel that doesn’t create a security loophole for that person and 2) it doesn’t degrade the connection for that person.

    Comment by cmadler — June 24, 2013 @ 6:07 am
  2. Companies such as Directv and the RIAA has sued many customers in Federal court making up the story that they stole their service. Here, if others are permitted to use the router the person who rents or owns that router will be sued. It does not make a difference to these companies who, or even if any thing was stolen. The goal is to recover money from court settlements so anyone one in possession of a router can be a target. That risk increases the more people use your router. Comcast as well will not defend these people when they are falsely accused of signal theft because someone in the neighborhood may have stolen a signal. The settlements are $5000 and defending the case is $7000.

    Comment by Gene — June 24, 2013 @ 8:33 am
  3. From what I have read they are not ‘using’ your bandwidth. They have created a separate channel/mac for the wi-fi stuff. Now is that true? More investigation would be needed.

    Comment by me — June 24, 2013 @ 8:52 am
  4. How do you opt out of this program?

    Comment by bob y — June 24, 2013 @ 9:13 am
  5. To what possible benefit is this to the particular account holder whose router is being used? “I” pay the electricity to power the unit. “I” pay for the internet connection for that router, which wouldn’t be there if I didn’t have the account. What happens when the MPAA/RIAA comes after “MY” IP address for illegally downloaded songs or movies.

    Let’s not even talk about the world of hurt “I’d” be in if someone decided to download child pornography or make terrorist threats using “MY” connection.

    I do not live in a Comcast area so this doesn’t apply to me.

    Someone else asked “How do I opt out of this program?”. Great idea…don’t give them the keys to your life.

    Comment by blasher — June 24, 2013 @ 9:51 am
  6. I actually find this kind of program interesting if it actually works as advertised. If I can secure my default connection while Comcast has some other connection that does not affect my bandwidth or my security I would actually like that.

    I would like to know the technical details behind such a program. It could actually be cool if all Comcast customers have a shared public channel along with their own channel. As usual one must be suspect of the fine print behind such a good deal.

    Comment by Wayne R — June 24, 2013 @ 9:54 am
  7. *I* would also like to know how to opt out! I have a hard enough time paying for rising comcast prices as it is – I don’t want anyone using it that’s NOT paying for it! I’m outraged!

    Comment by CABurns — June 24, 2013 @ 10:44 am
  8. I’m confused. What is a “new” Comcast router? The last I heard Comcast is no longer selling routers. I did see some hotspots in my Cambridge neighborhood; my address is not among them.

    Comment by Sue R — June 24, 2013 @ 11:09 am
  9. Does this increase your exposure to radio waves? Is the extra channel being broadcast with a stronger signal? In our home we are hardwired to the router so no WiFi is being broadcast.

    Comment by Bob — June 24, 2013 @ 11:34 am
  10. For what it’s worth, I checked with Comcast and I was told that you will get one of their gateways if you buy a bundle that includes phone service. These are open hotspots by default. You can request that your access point be hidden (the opt out?) but it’s not clear that they inform you of any of this when you rent the equipment. You can avoid this by not buying their phone service and not using their equipment.
    All this is from low-level customer service and tech people.

    Comment by Sue R — June 24, 2013 @ 12:02 pm
  11. Everything I have heard about this program says that they’ll be using a different channel to provide the data on your cable connection, the bandwidth used to provide the connection won’t come out of your normal account bandwidth, and the WiFi will show up as a different network than your normal WiFi network. If you live in an area with a lot of people running WiFi networks, like an apartment complex, the additional network could cause more resource contention issues than normal, but otherwise there’s no real downside to their program, that I can tell.

    Comment by Simon — June 24, 2013 @ 12:07 pm
  12. NSA approved?

    Comment by Ms.. Ice Cream — June 24, 2013 @ 3:38 pm
  13. I searched Comcast and could not find anything on opting out of this. Please do tell !

    Comment by tracy — June 25, 2013 @ 10:55 am
  14. I think, if implemented right,it’s a good idea. Implemented right means it’s truly a separate channel and doesn’t degrade the primary customer’s performance. And of course, it has to have it’s own IP address that’s totally separate from the primary customer.

    With regards to electricity costs, give me a break. Those things don’t use that much power.

    Comment by Tundey — June 25, 2013 @ 7:05 pm
  15. Wow, lots of misunderstandings flying around here!

    * People aren’t going to be using your internet without paying for it. Once this promotional period is over, ONLY OTHER COMCAST CUSTOMERS will have access. THEY ARE PAYING FOR IT.

    * You WILL benefit from this as well, because you will have access to wifi away from home at no extra charge.

    * You will not be sued if someone uses this for illegal purposes. Comcast can tell the difference. If someone downloads child porn over “your” router, Comcast will know who did it and you will not be held responsible.

    It’s possible that they could have done a better job communicating all this, but really, it is a positive development that will not impact your life at all except when it saves you data charges when you’re away from home.

    Comment by Wow — June 29, 2013 @ 9:27 am
  16. Comcast has had free wifi hot-spots for a few years now, but in places like parks, not anyone’s home. I would want it in writing, signed by a comcast corporate officer, that there is a separate IP address assigned to the free wifi hot-spot I’m providing so when somebody parks in front of my house and downloads a few gigs of kiddie porn I don’t wind up on the sex offender registry. Unless comcast isn’t telling the truth here, providing a document like that shouldn’t be a problem,should it?

    Comment by Tom — July 1, 2013 @ 9:37 am
  17. OK. Let me get this straight. I live in apartments which have started recently to be rented by unsavory people. Use your own imagination. I struggle to pay for TV and WiFi and the phone. Every night for the last week I have had a crowd of people sitting on and hanging out around a bench, which just happens to be right outside my door. So, according to this, they could be mooching off my router box?? All the while keeping me awake with all their laughing and such?? My bill has gotten huge with Comcast. This is the last straw. It’s like having a car and someone else borrows it while you aren’t driving. With their own insurance of course. But I still pay the bill?????? I’ll be damned.

    Comment by Debbie — July 1, 2013 @ 11:02 am

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