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Comcast Launches 80,000 WiFi Hotspots Using Existing Modems

Comcast has launched 80,000 WiFi hook-ups for their users in Indiana using separate lines on people's existing modems.

Xfinity subscribers may opt-out of the service.

Photo: Mike Mozart (flickr)

Xfinity subscribers can opt-out of the service.

Comcast this week launched 80,000 WiFi “hotspots” in Indiana, around 3,000 of which are in Bloomington.

The system takes existing Xfinity hardware, such as the modems many people have sitting in their living rooms, and broadcasts an additional signal to which other Xfinity users can connect.

Rob Ponto, Indiana’s Manager of Public Relations for Comcast, says the hotspots meet growing demand for ubiquitous WiFi connections.

“Everyone has a wireless device, and we’re on-the-go, and we want to be able to check our email, watch TV, do all the different tasks that you want to do on-the-go,” Ponto says.

Ponto says all Xfinity internet subscribers have access to the signals, and non-subscribers get two free 60-minute sessions per month, but also have the option of purchasing more WiFi time.

He also says customers may opt-out of having their device broadcast the extra signal but says it shouldn’t affect their personal internet speeds.

According to Ponto, each line supports up to six devices. So, he says like with any other wireless hook-up, an overload of devices could weaken connections.

Kat Carlton

Kat Carlton is the Morning Edition newscaster and reporter for WFIU/WTIU news. She plans to finish her masters in journalism from Indiana University, where she earned her undergraduate degree in journalism and political science. You can follow her on Twitter @katcarlt.

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  • Bob Eckert

    If I read Kat’s article correctly, this means that Comcast will, without your permission (you must figure out how to opt-out), set your HOME broadband modem to broadcast it’s availability for connection to the Internet on an additional broadband channel, and anyone with a wireless device within range (both outside and inside your home) will be able to connect to your modem and use it’s the speed available to it, thus, decreasing the performance of YOUR private connection to the modem. This would have 2 immediate affects: 1) Comcast increases it’s accessibility (on your back) to the wireless world and can say how “convenient” (but won’t say how it decreases your network security) it all is for everyone else, and 2) the performance of YOUR private connection through a modem you are like paying rent to Comcast on, will decrease, and you will call up Comcast and they will sell you a higher speed package at greater cost to YOU. I don’t see how Comcast can do this with a modem-only piece of equipment (many have their own router) and Kat should confirm this with Comcast, but Comcast DOES rent 4-port modem + router combination devices which would absolutely be able to handle the scenario I have described. Kat needs to immediately contact Mr. Ponto and get the specifics about which types of connection equipment Comcast is going to commandeer and also provide DETAILED instructions about how they can OPT-OUT!

  • Bob Eckert

    If you want to opt-OUT of Comcast’s theft of your Internet speed by piggy-backing another Wi-Fi connection onto your Comcast-supplied Internet router (which may also be supplying television and phone service),
    Call 1-855-308-9452
    and tell the customer service person that you want you want to opt-OUT of the secondary XFINITY Wi-Fi signal being broadcast from your Comcast router. The customer service person can pull up the details of the equipment you have in your home and tell you (hopefully truthfully) whether any of that equipment is capable of the secondary Wi-Fi signal broadcast. Tell them to turn off and keep off that signal in your equipment (which you are like paying Comcast a rental fee for). If you have a Comcast supplied cable modem and you purchased your own router, it is pretty much impossible for Comcast to legally mess with your router settings.

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