What a Deal: Comcast Won’t Charge You for Helping Build Out Its Public Wi-Fi Network

If you're a Comcast subscriber, you'll soon be able to turn your home into a part of Comcast's network of Wi-Fi hotspots. And it won't cost you a dime extra.

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If you’re a Comcast subscriber, you’ll soon be able to turn your home into a part of Comcast’s network of Wi-Fi hotspots. And it won’t cost you a dime extra.

According to Comcast’s press release:

Comcast is beginning to give its Xfinity Internet customers an additional “xfinitywifi” signal (or SSID) in their home that is completely separate and distinct from the family’s private and secure home WiFi signal. Offered at no additional cost to Xfinity Internet residential customers, the additional WiFi hotspots will enable friends, relatives, visitors and other Xfinity Internet customers instant, easy access to fast and reliable WiFi.

“Offered at no additional cost.” How generous of Comcast to let us help build its giant Wi-Fi network without making us pay extra each month. All we can offer is our electricity and bandwidth.

As for that pesky bandwidth issue, a Comcast rep told ReadWrite,”Typically, there should be minimal impact to the customer’s private home Wi-Fi network’s speed or experience due to the neighborhood Wi-Fi hotspot in the home.”

I’m assuming “typically” wouldn’t cover your next-door neighbor streaming HD video via Netflix for a few hours each night. And if it’s too big a bother, you can just opt out, says ReadWrite.

Yes, it looks like you’ll need to opt out of this — not into it (I’ve checked with Comcast for clarification about this and will update this piece if I hear back). “Comcast’s newest Wireless Gateway broadcasts two WiFi signals. By default, one is securely configured for the private use of the home subscriber. The second is a neighborhood ‘xfinitywifi’ network signal that can be shared,” says Comcast’s press release.

(If you’re a current Comcast customer, this only affects you if you have one of the company’s aforementioned new wireless gateways that launched in late April.)

There are positives to counterbalance my grumpiness: This is a good way to keep your secure network all to yourself, while directing others to use the public one. You’re also off the hook if someone pirates a bunch of music (or worse) over your public connection. And not just anyone can endlessly glom on: Connecting to the “xfinitywifi” signal will require “subscribers to sign in and connect using their own usernames and passwords,” says Comcast. However, non-subscribers are able to connect for two 60-minute sessions each month – but that deal is only good until the end of the year. Otherwise hourly, daily and weekly passes are available for $3, $8 and $20, respectively.

I actually don’t even know why I’m all that grumpy. I think it’s the “no additional cost” quip from a company I pay $200 a month that got to me. Maybe knock a few bucks off my bill each month if I let my home be used as a hotspot. I’d also accept a small commission for each hourly, daily or weekly pass sold while connected to my network. Stick a sign in my yard: “Doug’s Wi-Fi Zone – POWERED BY COMCAST!!!

Comcast Wants To Turn Your Home Wi-Fi Into A Public Hotspot [ReadWrite]