Comcast is transforming its customers' home modems into public Wi-Fi hotspots by adding a second signal to each device.
I am sure that absolutely, positively nothing will go wrong with this. I mean, allowing any random yahoo who happens to be in your neighborhood access to your wireless router? What could possibly go wrong?
In addition to a customer's home Wi-Fi connection, Xfinity wireless gateways (which include the cable modem and wireless router) will by default broadcast a separate signal that other Comcast subscribers can log in to with a Comcast username and password.
Right about now, I am glad that (a) I am not an Xfinity customer, and (b) that we're more than a quarter mile from our nearest neighbor.
This might strike you as a little cynical, but I am pretty sure that should a commercial entity (say, a coffee shop) sign up for Xfinity and pass out a free wifi password for their customers, Comcast will come down on them like a ton of rectangular building thingies.
In other words: they want you to pay for - and host - their hot spot hardware, so that they can make mo' money off of your connection.
That doesn't really strike me as the kind of deal that I would willingly enter into.
Oh, wait - as an article from MSN notes:
This is an "opt-out" service, not "opt-in." As soon as you get one of these new WiFi routers for your home network, your neighbors who are Xfinity customers can get free bits from you.
Ah, yes. The wonders of opt-out. It's nice to see that Comcast is finally making an effort to improve their reputation by dragging it, kicking and screaming, up to the level of such respected enterprises as viagra spammers and corporate mass-market email houses. With a little extra effort, they could easily become as beloved as used car salesmen or the NSA.
If you're a Comcast Xfinity customer living in one of the trial areas described in this CNET article, you might want to investigate further and decide whether you want to opt out of this wonderful service:
Comcast started testing the new service last year in parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Northern Virginia, and in and around Washington, D.C. Currently, more than 100,000 Xfinity Internet subscribers are using the new Wi-Fi access points.