Did you know that in 2013, Comcast set your Wireless Gateway router to double as a public Wi-Fi hotspot? It’s true. You’ve been lending free Wi-Fi to any device within range for two years now–on your own dime.
Comcast created the Xfinity Home Hotspot initiative to help their customers stay connected, even on-the-go. They promise that the separate SSID signals will keep your home network safe and leave your bandwidth untouched. But take a look at what this campaign does cost you.
Forces you to foot the bill for Comcast’s initiative.
Increased data transfer means increased power consumption—and that’s coming straight out of your electric bill. It’s not a huge amount per household, but when you add it all up, that electricity is a multimillion-dollar expense that Comcast has placed squarely on their customers’ shoulders.
Lowers the quality of your Wi-Fi signal.
Wi-Fi signals can interfere with each other, causing blips or lags in connection. So while you’re not actually sharing your bandwidth with the public, you’re still feeling some pain—especially if your neighbors’ routers are also doing double-duty for Xfinity.
Exposes you to potential security threats.
Cyber invasion by a skilled and malicious superhacker isn’t happening on every street corner, so chances are your home network will stay private if you take basic security precautions. But the fact remains that the public hotspot comes from your Xfinity router, and that shared connection is an inherent risk.
Makes you opt out–not opt in.
The good news: you can deactivate the hotspot if you want. The bad news: deactivating your hotspot can be a ridiculously complicated mission.
Makes it difficult for you to opt out.
Thousands of Xfinity customers have opted out only to find that their preference resets to the default every time the router gets an automatic update.1 Other customers say the opt-out function never works to begin with—they just get an error message.2 And good luck calling Xfinity for help: their horrendous customer service helped make Comcast one of the two most hated companies in America back in May 2014.
Comcast has taken what could be a promising new development and executed it in a way that violates the autonomy of their customers—and, some argue, their rights. Two Xfinity customers in California are suing Comcast, and if they’re successful, Comcast will owe damages to several million people for how they instituted the Home Hotspot program.3
Want out of the drama? Buy your own compatible router that Comcast can’t tamper with on the sly—or better yet, visit availability.internetservicepartners.com to find an ISP you’ll be happy with.
1Bode, K. “Comcast users struggle to keep rented routers from sharing Wi-Fi.” DSLreports.com
2Jessie (commenter) on article by Bode, K. “Comcast Sued Over Router Update That Makes Your Wi-Fi Hotspot Public, Ignores Your Opt-Out Preferences.” TechDirt.com
3Goldman, J. “Comcast Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Xfinity Wi-Fi Hotspots.” eSecurityPlanet.com