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Comcast Turning Chicago Homes Into Xfinity Hotspots

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the airwave-rights-are-the-new-mineral-rights-for-homeowners dept.

Networking 253

BUL2294 writes "The Chicago Tribune is reporting that, over the next few months in Chicago, Comcast is turning on a feature that turns customer networks into public Wi-Fi hotspots. After a firmware upgrade is installed, 'visitors will use their own Xfinity credentials to sign on, and will not need the homeowner's permission or password to tap into their Wi-Fi signal. The homegrown network will also be available to non-subscribers free for several hours each month, or on a pay-per-use basis. Any outside usage should not affect the speed or security of the home subscriber's private network. [...] Home internet subscribers will automatically participate in the network's growing infrastructure, although a small number have chosen to opt out in other test markets.' The article specifically mentions that this capability is opt-out, so Comcast is relying on home users' property, electricity, and lack of tech-savvy to increase their network footprint." Comcast tried this in the Twin Cities area, and was apparently satisfied with the results, though subscribers are starting to notice.

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253 comments

This shit is already polluting the SF Bay Area (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405233)

Not only 2.4 but 5 GHz as well.
Disgusting waste of spectrum.

Re:This shit is already polluting the SF Bay Area (2)

borcharc (56372) | about 5 months ago | (#46405319)

Same in Minneapolis, for at least the last 8 months.

Re:This shit is already polluting the SF Bay Area (4, Informative)

Killall -9 Bash (622952) | about 5 months ago | (#46405399)

Same in Philadelphia for at least as long. Took multiple calls to tech to get someone on the phone who even knew what the fuck I was talking about. First two phone calls, the techs pretended(?) to not know what I was talking about. So, hang up and try again. Tech support roulette is fun!

During 3rd call to comcast tech support, I was told this was an "Xfinity wifi"-specific issue, and I'd need to call a separate number.

So, I called the dedicated Xfinity WiFi tech support number. They started by asking me what location I was trying to connect from. Home? Oh, well then, you need to call the home internet support number. 1-800-COMCAST. Wow. Thanks.

It wasn't until the 5th phone call that I got someone on the phone who knew what I was talking about, and they transferred me to a higher-tier tech who could turn off the hotspot.

Re:This shit is already polluting the SF Bay Area (4, Insightful)

rhook (943951) | about 5 months ago | (#46405845)

This is why I use all my own equipment.

Re: This shit is already polluting the SF Bay Area (2)

jjbarrows (958997) | about 5 months ago | (#46405457)

Why? What were you going to do with it?

Re:This shit is already polluting the SF Bay Area (3, Interesting)

niftymitch (1625721) | about 5 months ago | (#46405601)

How do they manage bandwidth caps?
How do they maintain service levels to the paying customer?

It is true that a docsis 3.0 cable modem can deliver many more bits than
most (but not all) subscribers pay for. If and only if the service
base is never infringed on does this pass my muster.

HOWEVER WiFi bandwidth is not as flexible and that is what
they are stealing and reselling.

If I did not own my own WiFi hardware I would be in court ...

I WANT COMPENSATION.

It is difficult enough to compete with neighbor WiFi and this
will force many transmitters to dial up their power increasing
the interference.

Same for the durn Femto Cell tower that ATT sold me at a discount.
Today I have apparent control over the connections allowed
but that could change. BTW... they are not magic and seriously
drop calls faster than pre Obamacare health insurance companies.

Re:This shit is already polluting the SF Bay Area (4, Interesting)

Chas (5144) | about 5 months ago | (#46405991)

How do they manage bandwidth caps? They same way they don't bill you for cable TV channel bandwidth. They know what's coming across their network and from where.

Additionally, Comcast Business customers (at least) are being provided with a separate cablemodem and router/AP for the public wifi.

My POB's main office just installed a 75/15 link a month or so ago. Once we found out what the equipment was for, we disabled it immediately. We also disabled the wifi on the private router/AP as well, as we already have a heavily secured wireless AP on premises and simply don't trust Comcast enough not to try and circumvent our precautions. And god help them if they do.

Re: This shit is already polluting the SF Bay Area (1)

ewanm89 (1052822) | about 5 months ago | (#46405969)

It runs in and channel as the homeowners meeting SSID. At least BT ones in the uk do.

So what happens (4, Insightful)

TheRecklessWanderer (929556) | about 5 months ago | (#46405241)

So what happens when people start connecting to your router and doing unsavory things. A couple I can think of, human trafficking or child porn, or less evil but still evil trying to get on the other side of your router. What about downloading Torrents? I mean we don't really know how good that firmware is do we? What if the FBI come knocking on your door one day saying, We noticed that someone at this address is doing some bad things. Come with us please.

Re:So what happens (2)

sconeu (64226) | about 5 months ago | (#46405251)

And in addiiton, what about the fact that they're eating up your bandwidth?

Re:So what happens (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | about 5 months ago | (#46405431)

And in addiiton, what about the fact that they're eating up your bandwidth?

Knowing Comcast, Wi-fi use probably applies to your bandwidth limit as well.

Re:So what happens (2)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 5 months ago | (#46405541)

Even if it doesn't, they are eating into the limited bandwidth of the wireless radio which you may be using for much hungrier things that don't connect upstream (transfering files between a laptop and a desktop for instance). Wireless devices in general also tend to have stability and reliability issues when you start assinging a bunch of extra virtual interfaces to them. THIS is why I always insist on the ISP router being put in bridge mode and connecting my own router into it.

Re:So what happens (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 5 months ago | (#46405565)

well even with some kind of VLAN is still on the same cable node that lot's of other users are also on. Comcast does NOT have SDV so they don't have as many nodes as other SDV cable systems have.

Also parts of the City of Chicago system don't have as much QAM space as rest of Chicago land (but in Chicago land comcast does not use that space). Also we don't have BTN alts in HD, CLTV HD, Fox Sports 2 HD, and more. RCN has all them + more Premium HD. Directv and U-Verse have lot's more as well.

Re:So what happens (2)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | about 5 months ago | (#46405259)

It sounds like they're put in a separate virtual wlan than you are, and are given a separate IP.

Re:So what happens (1)

cheater512 (783349) | about 5 months ago | (#46405271)

Different public IP though? That would make for some interesting routing rules.

Re:So what happens (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 5 months ago | (#46405373)

It's no different than your neighbors who are using their own Comcast account right now, doing who knows what.

Re:So what happens (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 5 months ago | (#46405385)

Meh. IPv6 makes things simple.

Re:So what happens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405327)

A separate virtual wlan makes all the difference when it comes to WLAN bandwidth;)

Re:So what happens (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 5 months ago | (#46405539)

and how will they stop this from eating up router CPU / IO use? also what about apartments where it can be hard to get good WiFi when all channels are being used by a lot of people all in the same small area.

Re:So what happens (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 months ago | (#46405837)

and how will they stop this from eating up router CPU / IO use?

It won't, but the spare CPU/IO not required to deliver service to you is comcast's, since they own the router.

Re:So what happens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405939)

Before hacking-specific laws were introduced, hackers were charged with stealing electricity.

Can I also get Comcast to pay part of my electric bill?

Re:So what happens (2)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about 5 months ago | (#46405283)

You have to be a Comcast subscriber to use the service and presumably your account is associated with whatever activity you do, just as if you'd done it from your home connection.

Re:So what happens (5, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | about 5 months ago | (#46405375)

So the easiest way would be to set up a fake access point with graphics stolen from Comcast's real site and then collect the usernames/passwords from people who are trying to connect to it.

Then use those to login to other Comcast sites and do whatever evil you want to.

The best part is that the poor person whom you're framing will have a more difficult time clearing his name because the evil activity happening in his name is happening in his city.

Re:So what happens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405619)

You are an evil person .. Dr. Evil ...

The solution may be to tie device MAC addresses to comcast credentials to avoid this from happening?

Re:So what happens (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | about 5 months ago | (#46405667)

You assume their logs will even record that data. And even if that happens, the FBI/Secret Service will claim that they simply did not recover the exact piece of hardware that you used because you either a) hid it b) spoofed the MAC Address or c) got rid of it. The benefits of the a) and c) arguments are that they don't need to recover incriminating evidence on your other devices (i.e. CP, etc.) because you also only used that particular device, but with the "facts" of the logs and your username/password usage, they know for a fact that you had such a device and did such activity because they have the logs, and the logs do not lie.

Re:So what happens (1)

invictusvoyd (3546069) | about 5 months ago | (#46405701)

they know for a fact that you had such a device and did such activity because they have the logs, and the logs do not lie.

haha nice one .. I dont want this comcast shit

Re: So what happens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405807)

I don't know about you but I do not want the cost, stress, and time from having to defend myself.

Re: So what happens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405947)

But Justice is blind, and inexpensive.

Re:So what happens (1)

roninmagus (721889) | about 5 months ago | (#46405295)

I don't see myself ever using it, seems like a terrible idea to me. But I should note that they do require to login to the wifi using your xfinity username and password, so it stands to reason that they have the ability to track your actions online.

Re:So what happens (1)

_Ludwig (86077) | about 5 months ago | (#46405479)

Maybe I'm giving them too much credit, but I assume the FBI would be aware of Comcast's wifi sharing initiative. Just like running a coffee shop with free wifi that a customer did something unsavory with; the feds wouldn't come kicking in the door assuming that the shop owner was the culprit. They might knock and ask to see logs, but in this case they would get those from the ISP.

Re:So what happens (2)

klingers48 (968406) | about 5 months ago | (#46405503)

Also what's to stop people setting up honeypot networks named "xfinitywifi", letting you right in regardless of login credentials and packet-sniffing everything you do?

Re:So what happens (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 months ago | (#46405587)

"What if the FBI come knocking on your door one day saying, We noticed that someone at this address is doing some bad things. Come with us please."

It's happened, and the courts shut it down.

By now, just about every police dept. in the U.S. knows that an IP address does not identify even a house, much less an individual. An IP address by itself is no longer (and never should have been) considered "probable cause".

Re: So what happens (2)

Adriax (746043) | about 5 months ago | (#46405731)

Too bad the MAFIAA, like debt collectors, don't give a flying fuck who actually did something as long as they have someone they can bully/lie to/scream at until they get paid what they believe they are owed.

To a MAFIAA lawyer an IP address might as well be a mugshot, fingerprints, DNA, and confession all wrapped into a neal little package. And they will spend as much money as it takes to make the courts agree with them.

Re: So what happens (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 months ago | (#46405817)

"To a MAFIAA lawyer an IP address might as well be a mugshot, fingerprints, DNA, and confession all wrapped into a neal little package. And they will spend as much money as it takes to make the courts agree with them."

Well, that must be an awful lot of money, because they have been losing that battle.

I don't know of a court case that has gone forward with just an IP address for justification in the last year. It might have happened... but it's happening a lot less. Enough that you don't see it in the news anymore.

Re:So what happens (1)

ruir (2709173) | about 5 months ago | (#46405687)

Nah, we also have a similar service here. Any outside usage is linked to your customer login.

Re:So what happens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405789)

So what happens when people start connecting to your router and doing unsavory things. A couple I can think of, human trafficking or child porn, or less evil but still evil trying to get on the other side of your router. What about downloading Torrents? I mean we don't really know how good that firmware is do we? What if the FBI come knocking on your door one day saying, We noticed that someone at this address is doing some bad things. Come with us please.

On the flip side, this means you can download all the torrents, etc, you want, and then when the nasty letter from the RIAA/MPAA shows up you can deny everything and send them to Xfinity, saying it must be people coming in on the WiFi access they've left open for anyone to use.

I'm sure that'll go over well between the **AA and Xfinity. :-D

GOOGLE! (1)

David Betz (2845597) | about 5 months ago | (#46405247)

SAVE US!

On The Bright Side (1)

retroworks (652802) | about 5 months ago | (#46405255)

Think of the anonymity. How can I be accused of accessing or doing anything online if my online access point could have been accessed by anyone? My history is your history.

Re:On The Bright Side (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405275)

It will of course keep logs.....

Re:On The Bright Side (1)

firex726 (1188453) | about 5 months ago | (#46405413)

Because a MAC address cannot be cloned, or hell just trash a dirty NIC.

> Wasn't me officer, none of f the computers in my home have that MAC.

Re:On The Bright Side (0)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 5 months ago | (#46405471)

Because a MAC address cannot be cloned ...

Sure it can, though not all NICs support that. Google it.

Re:On The Bright Side (1)

immaterial (1520413) | about 5 months ago | (#46405867)

You missed some pretty blatant sarcasm there, buddy.

Re:On The Bright Side (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 5 months ago | (#46405347)

My history is your history

Except that it isn't...

Some people have privacy and security concerns, even though Comcast insists the public and private Wi-Fi networks are entirely separate and shielded from each other. Others worry that the public network will affect the private network's performance. Comcast says this isn't so.

In NL, some ISPs are doing the same. It's even a different public-facing IP address.

Of course, you can also turn it off. Though turning it off on your modem means you don't get to use it yourself on others' modems.

Re:On The Bright Side (1)

retroworks (652802) | about 5 months ago | (#46405381)

Ok, it's not turnkey. But instead of "anonymous browsing" I can access my own modem as a visitor.

Re:On The Bright Side (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 5 months ago | (#46405507)

I can access my own modem as a visitor.

Which accomplishes nothing, as you'd be logging in as you - unless you're using somebody else's credentials. That seems to be the main weakness, at least in the NL (Ziggo) case; people intercepting login data or the public wifi being easily hacked to grant access to the internet (not to the internal network), etc.

So, yes, you could certainly access your own modem as John Doe using John Doe's credentials, and they would come knocking on John Doe's door. Best make sure John Doe is somebody who would plausibly make use of your router, of course, otherwise "yeah I was at work 50 miles from that router, tyvm" becomes a bit of an alibi and pushes the investigation into checking MAC address (don't forget to fake that), doing some surveillance on when it's getting accessed with John Doe's credentials and triangulating the signal source, etc.

Either which way, it doesn't work as an added excuse for things that happen out of your private network :)

Re:On The Bright Side (1)

lostmongoose (1094523) | about 5 months ago | (#46405407)

My history is your history

Except that it isn't...

Some people have privacy and security concerns, even though Comcast insists the public and private Wi-Fi networks are entirely separate and shielded from each other. Others worry that the public network will affect the private network's performance. Comcast says this isn't so.

In NL, some ISPs are doing the same. It's even a different public-facing IP address.

Of course, you can also turn it off. Though turning it off on your modem means you don't get to use it yourself on others' modems.

Comcast says it's fine and they would never ever ever possibly lie to get people to do what they want.

Buy this rock I have. It keeps bears away.

Re:On The Bright Side (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 5 months ago | (#46405477)

You don't have to believe them, you have a few other options:

Try to hack it to get to the internal network. I'm sure there's a big bounty for succeeding (be that by Comcast or on the black market).

Disable it. You also don't get to use the feature.

In case you don't trust that disabling it actually disables it, buy a different modem. Don't complain if you get zero support :)

Re:On The Bright Side (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 months ago | (#46405617)

"Except that it isn't..."

SOLUTION: Use your own cable adapter ("modem") and router.

I've been doing that for years. It's MY network, and I define it as I please. I run a public access point, and it IS just one big IP address.

It's not all one network, though. I have my private network, which is protected by WPA2, and my router supports a completely separate guest network, which I have open. They can access the internet via the guest network, but nothing else.

It's all one kind of traffic to my ISP, all over the same IP address (and MAC address, for that matter).

Not only that, but it's a GOOD router. For years I have had the strongest signal in my immediate neighborhood. It is accessible from a block away, and it's not even running full power.

Yes, neighbors use it. No, I'm not the slightest bit concerned about the police knocking on my door. If they don't have a warrant based on a hell of a lot more than my IP address, I'd hand them their asses in court.

The downside: it does use the bandwidth I am paying for. But only once have I ever caught anyone using much or abusing it. A teenager down the street who was downloading MP3s.

Comcast WiFi (1)

JDAustin (468180) | about 5 months ago | (#46405257)

Since I already had routers running dd-wrt (yea..i know I should move to open-wrt/tomato), the first thing I did when I got Comcast was have them disable the wifi on there router and set it up so it runs as a bridge instead. I prefer to have as much control over my network as possible.

Re:Comcast WiFi (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 5 months ago | (#46405461)

the first thing I did when I got Comcast was have them disable the wifi on there router and set it up so it runs as a bridge instead.

But... if it is their router, it is their network. Thus they can turn it back on at their pleasure.

Re:Comcast WiFi (3, Insightful)

stoploss (2842505) | about 5 months ago | (#46405515)

the first thing I did when I got Comcast was have them disable the wifi on there router and set it up so it runs as a bridge instead.

But... if it is their router, it is their network. Thus they can turn it back on at their pleasure.

I'm sure their WiFi-unilaterally-reenabled router will be encountering lots of WiFi traffic once it is wrapped in aluminum foil (or any other basic Faraday cage/signal attenuation approach).

It may be their router and their network, but it sure as hell isn't their site.

Re:Comcast WiFi (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 5 months ago | (#46405557)

I'm not sure how Comcast does it, but when I had shaw do the exact same thing, I was explicitly warned that they would no longer be able to offer remote support for troubleshooting the modem if I left it in bridge mode (they said the can no longer directly connect to it in bridge mode). When I asked how I would get it *out* of bridge mode if a had to, they said I'd have to hard-reset it (note: they put it IN bridge mode remotely after the install).

Re:Comcast WiFi (3, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 months ago | (#46405901)

I was explicitly warned that they would no longer be able to offer remote support for troubleshooting the modem if I left it in bridge mode

Correct. I work for an ISP on the engineering side. For the very reason that modems in bridge mode cannot be remotely monitored via IP SNMP, or accessed via Telnet etc -- our policy is route always; no modems in bridge mode. No exceptions. I'm surprised Comcast even allowed that.

If a customer has their own router, then additional IP addresses can be routed to the modem and then on to their router --- otherwise, the modem will be their NAT boundary.

No customers are provided the username/password access: all config changes by support.

If monitoring finds a modem to be tampered with or no longer responsive -- most likely service will be temporarily turned off, until support clears it after the customer pays for a truck roll (in the case someone did something dumb such as insert a pin in the reset slot of our modem).

In bridge mode, the DSL/Cable modem no longer has an IP address. The only way to regain control over it is to be connected with a laptop on the LAN side of the device and know the 192.168.bla.blah address of the modem, or do a hard reset.

Re:Comcast WiFi (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 5 months ago | (#46405593)

Given what Comcast charges on a monthly basis for their routers, I don't understand why anyone uses one of theirs. You can buy a DOCSIS 3 cable modem for 60 or 70 bucks.

Re:Comcast WiFi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405677)

Yeah, mine already paid itself off a long time ago.

BT in the UK do this (4, Informative)

Harlequin80 (1671040) | about 5 months ago | (#46405265)

I was in the UK last year and you can pick up loads of BT open wifi hotspots you can connect to. These then piggy back on a home consumers network connection.

I'm very suss on this as I would have thought contention alone would be a hell of an issue but I assume it is rate limited in some way. I had a play for a couple of minutes trying to compromise my sister-in-laws setup and couldn't manage it but I am far from skilled in that area.

That is why you use your own router (4, Interesting)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 5 months ago | (#46405273)

That, folks, is why you never use an ISP provided router. Of course at some point you'll be forced to "upgrade" to a modem with integrated wifi.

Re:That is why you use your own router (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405453)

While I don't know if it'll be possible to get a modem independent of having wifi forever cable modems in the US can be bought separately of the provider. I'm very much a big fan of ADSL / local fiber options over cable. While there might be a cable company that is advertising its services honestly most are advertising speeds that they can't realistically provide. If you say "up to 25mbps" thats completely deceptive and dishonest. It's one thing if it's ADSL and there is a limitation on the physical connection between you and the telco. It's another when a company over-subscribes its service and you can't get a consistent 4mbps let along 25mbps during the hours of high demand. In any event that's the issue I have with how cable is advertised and why I won't subscribe. I prefer my ADSL connection which always provides 10mbps (had 25mbps when I was living in town). My telephone company didn't lie to me when I moved out of town. They told me my connection wouldn't support anything faster than 10mbps. Comcast lies outright in a deceiving sort of way. Not the only thing they do. There much worse than the smaller cable companies which existed before Comcast bought them all out though. They do all sorts of things to force your bill up and make you work (literally) for the service (ie forcing people to install digital cable boxes, providing limited # of boxes, providing no benefits, and then charging $3+ per box thereafter, which in turn forced you to rip up your wiring in-house, and then they'd take the boxes back, only to then say you had to have them a few months later, ie every few months they f'ing change it).

Re:That is why you use your own router (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 5 months ago | (#46405537)

My ISP-issued modem has built-in WiFi. They want to charge me $10/month to use it (they locked out admin access, obviously - first thing I tried).

Since I literally cannot get a different ISP without moving, I just dug out an old wireless router from my box of miscellaneous computer stuff and set up my own network. Based on broadcast SSIDs, either they let users pick their WLAN name, or literally everyone in the building did the same thing I did.

The ISP's name is "Telcom", not that it does much good. Last I checked, the top Google result was for a Somali ISP (who would probably have better service - the connection is slow, goes out every few months for no good reason, and the support is phone-only, 9-5 weekdays). Somehow they negotiated exclusivity with my apartment complex.

Re:That is why you use your own router (1)

ruir (2709173) | about 5 months ago | (#46405755)

You are way better with your own wifi router. The hardware of the operator normally has limited capabilities and their DNS proxying/NAT slows down your Internet experience, and besides if you use your wifi to stream movies for the TV, the operator router wont take it and freeze once in a while. In the plus side you are also more in control of your network, specially if you know a little of what you are doing. Is is Telcom, or are you talking about the infamous Telkom in SA?

Re:That is why you use your own router (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 5 months ago | (#46405549)

Sorry to let you know that the end user can easily switch off the functionality.

The only bad thing here is that the ISP is doing it secretly.

Re:That is why you use your own router (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405647)

Simple. Just remove the antenna. Can't do wi-fi without antenna. You're welcome.

Re:That is why you use your own router (1)

mcrbids (148650) | about 5 months ago | (#46405745)

I fail to understand why this is in any form, a problem?

I'm currently using Comcast Basic Internet for $65/mo. For this I get 25 Mbit speeds. If I paid $100/mo, I could get 100 Mbit speeds. If I did so, there would be no change to my equipment - they'd twiddle a bit someplace and I would suddenly get more speed.

So what this means is that there's at least 75 Mbits of available bandwidth that's not being utilized. Since I'm not using it, why not make it available to a paying neighbor?

From what I've seen about how Comcast modems work, every household is essentially on a rate-limited VPN to some master server located (in my case) hundreds of miles away. Because of this, latency, though not bad, is never excellent. (I never see a 20ms ping to *anything*)

Truth is, the public access side of things would have near-zero impact, other than perhaps using a wifi channel.

Don't trust their "opt-out" (5, Interesting)

LookIntoTheFuture (3480731) | about 5 months ago | (#46405281)

External WIFI router and a Faraday cage. Just when you thought Comcast couldn't be more evil. Bam! F-you Comcast.

Sounds good (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 5 months ago | (#46405305)

So long as this access point is separate from and invisible to my Internet access, I wouldn't mind. However since they are getting the use of my property and electricity, I would at least like reciprocity in the form of using these wherever else they occur, particularly from a smartphone (thus avoiding the need for a generous data plan). Comcast should also let the property owner decide whether this new access point runs in the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band, so as to avoid any slowdown of my own access point.

Re:Sounds good (2)

mcl630 (1839996) | about 5 months ago | (#46405451)

If you are a Comcast Internet customer, you can already use Xfinity WiFi where it's available, even if you aren't providing this service to them.

Thank god... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405321)

... when I became a reluctant Comcast customer a few months ago I supplied my own hardware.

Have fun with it? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405349)

When you see someone parked in front of your house, masturbating in their car to porn via your network.... unplug your router before they can finish.

Devil's advocate position: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405351)

Comcast bandwidth.
Comcast router.
Comcast's terms.
 
Even if there are no other broadband options, does this really matter if it has no practical impact on the users? In exchange for a user enrolling his/her home for access to the Internet through Comcast, the user also gets the benefit of being able to use public wifi from a ton of other places in exchange for the wireless access point at his/her own home working toward that goal as well.
 
The only major downside (or upside, depending on the morals to which you subscribe) I see is the potential for a future vulnerability in the infrastructure allowing repudiation of malicious network traffic, e.g. a person using a connection to deliver malware and then say "well it wasn't me! It must've been someone using my connection as a hotspot."

Re:Devil's advocate position: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405409)

You're making a pretty big assumption about this having no impact on users. Unless these new cable modems have multiple cable drops feeding into them, the wi-fi *will* eat into your bandwidth.

This just in: Xfinity creds harvested with fake AP (1)

AlienSexist (686923) | about 5 months ago | (#46405363)

So now just make a fake Xfinity access point and harvest credentials of passing visitors. Then use those credentials across the country to pin your unsavory traffic on someone else. Free bandwidth for life!

Don't they use extra hardware for this? (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 5 months ago | (#46405389)

So my cousin got Comcast internet at the business he owns. To do that Comcast wireless stuff they basically brought some piece of hardware that was separate from the cable modem and router for his business and stuck it in a closet near where the cable wire first came in the building. I'm guessing for homes they're going to do the same thing, have that extra box in your house somewhere but your cable connection wouldn't use it. (Admittedly the thing does use some of my cousin's electricity to run so it's not free for him.)

Re:Don't they use extra hardware for this? (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | about 5 months ago | (#46405591)

You let people in to your house to install things?

When Comcast showed up for the install I gave them a coax to wire into, and a laptop hooked into my router to test with. Both of which were in my backyard at the back door of my home.

south Florida too... (1)

Jager Dave (1238106) | about 5 months ago | (#46405401)

Was speaking to my Comcast rep at work, even business routers are bring converted, howevrr they will use a separate channel for the wifi network. Still sounds like a bad iidea to me.

Re:south Florida too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405911)

Wow. They're just showing their bellies, daring Google to spill their guts. I'm no fan of Google, but they're saints compared to the crap Comcast has pulled, and I pray that Google Fiber tears Comcast a new one.

There's always a way to gum up the works (1)

GoSmalltalk (42449) | about 5 months ago | (#46405417)

This is nasty. Opt out if you can. If you can't, physically unplug the modem whenever you don't use it.

Cheers!!

just when I don't think it can get worse (1)

Wansu (846) | about 5 months ago | (#46405425)

... it does. Comcast is pure evil.

bandwidth cap? (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | about 5 months ago | (#46405435)

What happened to the bandwidth cap? You know, cause the one household was sucking all the u-pron and warezing?

If one house has to provide for twenty or thirty coffee sippers warezing and u-proning, does the cap come into play?

If not, why was there even a discussion of capping bandwidth?

YOU HAVE TO SIGN IN WITH YOUR COMCAST ID (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405439)

This is NOT an open Wifi network. You must sign in with a Comcast / Xfinity User ID in order to use the network.

I saw it pop up on my router last year and do not have a problem with it. Any activity on the xfinitywifi SSID in going to be associated with a specific user, probably not me. Looking at the available networks in my area, I see xfnintywifi on channels 3 and 6, also another 'un-named' network, on one or more channels, that is probably emanating from the same device or another close by, judging from the MAC addresses and signal strength.

I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 that I use as my mobile device and connect to the XfinityWifi network, using an ID on my account, at multiple locations. I am glad they set it up and give me access to it. No, I do not have a smart phone.

BTW - there are other networks, Optimum and TWC, that can also be used with your Comcast User ID.

What was it that Yoda said? - 'The ignorance is strong with some of these...' or something like that.

Re:YOU HAVE TO SIGN IN WITH YOUR COMCAST ID (1)

dltaylor (7510) | about 5 months ago | (#46405763)

BUT, do the "external" users all get a separate IP address, guaranteed NEVER to be linked to your address for a cop stomp (because they have, and will continue to, assault suspected child porn fans)?

Re:YOU HAVE TO SIGN IN WITH YOUR COMCAST ID (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about 5 months ago | (#46405999)

In theory they should. But you have to trust Comcast to properly research the logs and determine that that IP address assigned to your modem (since the WiFi's part of the modem) was assigned to the public WiFi side and not your account. I'm not sure I'd trust Comcast with that when the consequences of them getting it wrong are so serious, I'd prefer to keep control over access. It may not stop all possibility of illicit access, but at least it'll be something I could have done something about.

Re:YOU HAVE TO SIGN IN WITH YOUR COMCAST ID (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405855)

Yeah. Something like that...

isn't that illegal and dangerous? (1)

PC_THE_GREAT (893738) | about 5 months ago | (#46405445)

dafuq. You are paying for that, plus it is your home network that you are opening up, and the isp believes he can decides who to allow or not in your network??

This will be cool for me (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | about 5 months ago | (#46405455)

I will dump my comcast account, call my brother who has to have the best of the best and pays for all things comcast, get his log in info and hop on the neighbors signal.

Net savings? 29.99 a month until july, the 69.99 a moth after that.

Bring it!

Re:This will be cool for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405609)

I've been doing this for the past 10 years. Add up those pennies.

It is too bad that the Linux folks didn't come up with this type of distributed router network that is homegrown. It is the way the Internet was supposed to be. Free and with random routing.

Turn off wifi (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | about 5 months ago | (#46405467)

And get a 3rd party router.

Re:Turn off wifi (1)

ruir (2709173) | about 5 months ago | (#46405735)

I second this. I put the crappy cable modem in bridge mode, disable the wifi, and put a Time Capsule dealing with the traffic/wifi.

Re:Turn off wifi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405875)

Could be different for different models, but you can't turn off either wifi connection (though I should say any, since there is a hidden, unprotected network that is broadcast, in addition to your network and the Xfinity crap.)
Then again, the admin panel is such utter shit, maybe you can and it's just that no one can find it.

Motorola SB6141 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405505)

Just get a standalone router. Easy to initialize. May want to check directly but its supported in SF. Works great - takes a few minutes to install yourself and activate. Follow instructions on the Amazon.com page in the reviews. There's some suggestion you want to order the WHITE one as the black ones are sometimes ISP cast-offs. I had this one recommended to me by a comcast tech himself. Big plus - you save $8 a month on the Wifi Hotspot rental fee too ;)

http://www.amazon.com/ARRIS-Motorola-SurfBoard-SB6141-DOCSIS/dp/B00AJHDZSI/

and you have to rent this box as well (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 5 months ago | (#46405531)

Wow now Comcast should make them rent free if they want to do this.

Also Knowing how some times they can't even get cable tv right I don't really trust them to make so others can't hack in or lets say overload the box with users.

YOU HAVE TO SIGN IN WITH YOUR COMCAST ID (4, Informative)

Blinkin1200 (917437) | about 5 months ago | (#46405545)

Sorry to repost - orig post was as AC... maybe someone will actually see this one. This is NOT an open Wifi network. You must sign in with a Comcast / Xfinity User ID in order to use the network, AND you are signing into SSID 'xfinitywifi', NOT your local, private, SSID 'Ithinktheskyisfalling'. I saw it pop up on my router last year and do not have a problem with it. Any activity on the xfinitywifi SSID in going to be associated with a specific user, probably not me. Looking at the current networks in my area, I see xfnintywifi on channels 3 and 6, also another 'un-named' network, on one or more channels, that is probably emanating from the same device or another close by, judging from the MAC addresses and signal strength. I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, wifi only, that I use as my mobile device and connect to the XfinityWifi network, using an ID on my account, at multiple locations. I am glad they set it up and give me access to it. No, I do not have a smart phone. BTW - there are other networks, Optimum and TWC, that can also be used with your Comcast User ID. What was it that Yoda said? - 'The ignorance is strong with some of these...' or something like that.

Sucker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405725)

So, you give them location tracking. Logging in to those hotspots with a userID and password so they know everywhere you go. Oh wait, you don't? Are you sure? You get push email when out and about? You are logging into their network then to get it, right?

And, as another poster importantly pointed out...just make a copy login page and shoot out the right SSID and start harvesting logins, then they start using your ID to do all kinds of stuff. Maybe they just drain your data allotment downloading torrents or looking at youtube videos...maybe they download faar nastier stuff that brings federal agencies sniffing at your door. You don't know, you won't know, but it was your ID used to do this so you have something to do with it!

Paranoia is your FRIEND. Learn to embrace it. Its still right there, just under your skin, waiting to come out. Only now, in this new digital era, it doesn't know what to fear. So teach it. Your data is yours. No one else has a right to it. And trading it away for convenience...your paranoia tells you this is wrong. That is what instinct is. Listen to it, train it, learn from it, and start taking back your sense of self, your sense of privacy. Its the only way to remain a cog, and not a bearing.

Re:YOU HAVE TO SIGN IN WITH YOUR COMCAST ID (2)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about 5 months ago | (#46405743)

And what exactly is stopping a bad guy from setting their network's SSID to 'xfinitywifi' and hijacking traffic? That's one reason I don't trust public hotspots in general, it's too easy for someone else to impersonate them and while I can and do protect my computer against attack from malware I can't protect my network traffic from the access point I'm connected to.

As far as "logging in" with their user ID, I doubt Comcast has set up the infrastructure to do 802.1x authentication and most clients aren't configured to handle it. They're using browser-based authentication, which means your computer will connect to any AP using SSID 'xfinitywifi' without prompting you and all your traffic will be accessible by that AP. A simple Web server mimicking the signon page coded to accept any password and you won't notice a thing.

Re:YOU HAVE TO SIGN IN WITH YOUR COMCAST ID (1)

epyT-R (613989) | about 5 months ago | (#46405987)

it does congest the band though.. if everyone in the area has comcast (likely for a given area), now we have 2x as many accesspoints to contend with.

Time Warner (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about 5 months ago | (#46405721)

Yes there are ways around this for tech savvy users. That's not the point. The point is Comcast pulling something like this at all - and the way they have gone about it - all say "we can't be trusted with the power we already have". What's to stop them from mandating customers use their equipment? Especially if they are the only show in town.

I hope this provides further fuel for efforts to stop Comcast's merger with Time Warner.

The good and the ugly (4, Informative)

ruir (2709173) | about 5 months ago | (#46405729)

We have here a similar service with a former incumbent operator, which wonders of wonders has almost a virtual monopoly of cables services. The service itself is very useful and allow us to roam in most of locations without paying anything extra. Apparently it is a roaming authentication setup where you can authenticate in the modem of another customer, in a different VLAN/network and at limited speeds. (whilst at home you have 100 Mbps, roaming speeds appear to be on the range 5 to 2 Mbps). There are no dangers of someone knocking in the door of the other because of hacking/porn/whatever, all remote usage is linked to your account due to you logging with your id/password. The downside of this setup is that the 2.4GHz band is overcrowded, with most of the neighbours taking 2 (B)SSIDs. Often this situation compromises the quality of the service itself, both for the proper customer, and to the roaming service is equipment is providing. The situation has gotten so bad, I know of people installing repeaters at home, and I myself had to migrate to a new router in the 5GHz band to be able to work properly. I also disable the operator equipment and it works only in bridging mode, as the CPU capabilities are weak, and I don not trust the security if brings to my own network. There are also some persons who piggyback on the credentials and the family/friends, and use this service permanently with a (very) reduced Internet capacity. (As a side note, in both of my 2 houses in two different cities I can count as much as 40 BSSIDs when walking around the house)

Re:The good and the ugly (1)

ruir (2709173) | about 5 months ago | (#46405915)

I also forget to add that when you do have the roaming SSID (FON) open, it is not that unusual to have 2 or 3 "roaming" users connecting to you. Many people lend their passwords to friends or family for them not to buy Internet.

This is just what Fon was (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405825)

This is nothing new. BT in the UK have been doing it for a while and it all originated (I think) with the Fon project. Which may have started in Spain, (though I'm happy to be corrected).

The bandwidth available to the public network is limited and it collapses to zero if you're using your own network flat out.
Also it doesn't get included in your traffic cap.
So the obvious worries are unfounded.

Whether you trust them technologically to get it right and keep it separate is a different matter. And yes, anyone can set up a rogue hotspot that captures credentials. But that was possible with any branded national hotspot network before.

BT have a smartphone app that will automatically connect a BT broadband subscriber to any shared private/public network of this sort that it finds, making it possible for me to walk most of the way across town with continuous wifi access on my smartphone. But it's a flaky app and also rather stupidly only allows you to search for available hotspots on a local map IF you're already online (doh !!). I'd find the same app for my laptop very useful but it seems not to exist.

The biggest pain I found with the whole dual network thing was that the public side of it is a "freely connectable, fill in your details on the first webpage you see" sort of thing. This means your PC may arbitrarily connect to it instead of your own "proper" network sometimes. (until you actively tell it not to), then find it can't actually do anything.

What they have NOT offered (and which would be rather useful) is the facility to setup a guest network in your house. What they currently offer is only a guest network for BT (or in the OP, Comcast) subscribers.

 

Similar thing operational here (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46405943)

To be fair, they announced it beforehand and do allow you to opt-out (clunkily) at the price of no partaking for you elsewhere either.

My experience is that the (cisco) CPE firmware is shoddy and will fail in mysterious ways, and that this is pretty hard to tell the support people. They'll just (have you) reset the darn thing and skip on fixing the underlying issues. Too bad it's DOCSIS and so harder to replace with own equipment than, say, ADSL would be. Similarly, the promised "you won't notice a thing" (in your bandwidth) is not quite true either, and the wireless easily becomes downright unstable. As such, nice idea, technical execution not so professional.

Note that they supposedly separate the traffic streams entirely and since the logging in on the "public" hot spot involves a separate username/password from presumably their centralised credential servers, abusing hotspots elsewhere should't reflect on the people yonder, but on whoever is tied to the credentials used. Assuming the ISP does their job right, of course.

Very common in France, circa 2009 and elsewhere (4, Informative)

j-beda (85386) | about 5 months ago | (#46406007)

Lots of people do this all over the world.

The last time I was in Paris for an extended stay, back in 2009, at least one of the major ISPs was doing this on all their customer routers. The world did not seem to come to an end (or at least I haven't noticed it - maybe I'm oblivious). I can't recall if it was SRF, Numericable or Orange or "free" or one of the other big telecom companies, but they certainly had a lot of hotspots. They might have started working with FON to get an international system going I seem to recall.

https://corp.fon.com/en [fon.com]

The "public" wifi did not eat into the subscriber's bandwidth or whatever data caps they had. I don't know how (or if) they addressed the potential for honeypots stealing credentials.

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