Free WiFi by Comcast

Comcast Hotspot Plan Turns Every Customer’s Home into Public Toilet

Comcast, everyone’s least favorite internet service provider, has just announced plans to turn every customer’s cable modem into a public WiFi hotspot… by default. Let me explain this more clearly: your home is a Comcast Hotspot and anybody strolling down your street can mooch off your internet connection.

8 reasons Comcast’s public WiFi hotspot plan is a major dick move

        1. Security nightmare
        2. Privacy nightmare
        3. Your speed is going to suck even more. Cable modem bandwidth is shared  because of the nature of the technology. Your pipes are shared with your neighbors, which explains why Netflix bogs down and buffers every night during prime time.
        4. It’s highly unethical. If my water is shut off, can I run a hose from another Indiana American Water customer’s house to my pool and fill it up? Or… can I use another customer’s toilet when nature calls?
        5. Comcast is reselling your bandwidth for $20 per week. Non-Xfinity customers can buy hourly, daily, or weekly passes to use your internet access that you paid for and you don’t receive any compensation! Did I mention something about ethics? (thanks, Ed)
        6. The Comcast hotspot feature is now on by default (with free access to other Xfinity hotspots) for customers in Lafayette, Bloomington, Kokomo, Fort Wayne, and Indianapolis. (See related reasons 1 and 2 above.)
        7. You have to deal with Craptastic™ Comcast Customer service to opt-out of this nightmare. Good luck getting through without being upsold on some limited time offer that will revert back to $160 monthly after 6 months. To opt out online, login to Comcast,  click “Users & Preferences,” and select “Manage Xfinity WiFi.” 

          Netflix speed on Comcast

        8. Comcast is too big and unchecked. The cable giant already owns NBC/Universal (aka Kabletown) and is about to merge with TimeWarner Cable (TWC) to become the largest ISP in the US. They will command 19 of the top 20 markets in the US, unless the FCC grows a pair and stops the merger (not likely). It’s gotten so bad that Netflix has been forced to make deals with Comcast and Verizon to ensure their speed is guaranteed to its customers. Effectively, Comcast and other giants have created an Internet slow lane, unless content providers pay to play. If this doesn’t make any sense, allow John Oliver to explain:

The good news is, if the Comcast/TWC merger goes through, Comcast will divest its Indiana customers to Charter Communications. Wait. Never mind. Charter sucks too. They were our provider when I used to live in St. Louis. If you care about consumer protection, learn how to contact the FCC about net neutrality.

Do yourself a favor: switch to Metronet 100% fiber optic internet, TV, and phone. Tell them James Britton sent you. Metronet won’t bullshit with limited time offers or shared bandwidth and they certainly don’t offer up your WiFi as a public toilet.

I’ll buy you a six pack of beer and you’ll soon be thanking me for the advice to switch.

James is the self-appointed city editor of West Lafayette. He is a Hibernophile, Apple & homebrew geek, and loves a tidy environment and liberal politics. His opinions are those of YOUR employer.

18 thoughts on “Comcast Hotspot Plan Turns Every Customer’s Home into Public Toilet”

  1. For anyone confused about #3 vs. Comcast’s claims that this will not affect your bandwidth, know that Comcast is splitting hairs regarding the term “bandwidth” in an attempt to deceive you. The public WiFi hotspot may very well not interfere with your “wireless bandwidth,” i.e., wireless devices talking among _themselves_ and your wireless router, but it absolutely will be sharing the bandwidth you (and your Comcast-using neighbors) use to access Netflix…er, the Internet.

    The latter meaning of “bandwidth” is what Comcast charges you for each month, and is now what they will be charging non-subscribers to use via your public WiFi hotspot.

    ProTip: When in doubt, assume Comcast is being dishonest in order to make more money.

    1. If your name shows up on my Metronet bill as a referral, then yes, I will buy you a six pack. We will drink it on my porch while tweeting hatred to @Comcast.

  2. Don’t get me wrong, I hate Comcast as much as the next guy, but where is the balanced reporting? Where is the link to Comcast explaining the deal? Where is the mention that while I won’t pay extra, I’ll also benefit from free hot spots as a subscriber? (Then we can legitimately weigh whether the trade-off is worthwhile.) Where exactly is the security nightmare if they slice off my bandwidth like another piece of highway? Again, it’s probably sketchy. Okay, it’s Comcast, it’s sketchy. But I expect a lot from Think Lafayette. “Comcast sucks” is low hanging fruit, imo. I appreciate the heads up. I don’t have a newer modem. And I don’t work for Comcast. Metronet isn’t in my area yet. Someday, though!

    1. Karen,

      I think you managed to argue yourself out of your argument.

      Again, it’s probably sketchy. Okay, it’s Comcast, it’s sketchy.

      As you said yourself, Comcast is sketchy and has shown to be ruthless by flaunting their practices while the FCC turns the other way, makes back room deals with Netflix (see above along with graph), is creating a monopoly situation in 19 of the top 20 U.S. TV markets. Need I go on?

      To address your points:
      I already linked to the original Journal & Courier piece at the beginning of this post. The full press release can be found on Inside Indiana Business. I updated the post to clarify that current Xfinity subscribers are eligible for free access on the network, however it was already implied. “Comcast sucks” is low hanging fruit, but I would argue the average American/Hoosier/Greater Lafayette resident does not fully understand the issue of net neutrality or that Comcast owns NBC/Universal or that they are about to command 40% of the cable market in the U.S. or that they will be a monopoly in 19 major markets after swallowing TimeWarner. As for privacy and security, @EdCates makes some excellent points on Twitter. Besides, do you really feel comfortable knowing a complete stranger could possibly be streaming kiddie porn from your WiFi router inside your house?

      I urge everyone to read Nilay Patel’s piece about net neutrality and fixing the Internet. Warning, he says “fuck.”

      1. I appreciate your response, James. And I agree with Nilay Patel’s point that the Internet is a utility, and that net neutrality is crucial. But that’s the FCC and our representatives’ fault.

        It’s worthwhile to explain what Comcast is up to. We need to know. That said, I’m still not convinced that I’ll be liable for Joe Pedophile streaming kiddie porn off my router. Or that my privacy will be compromised under this setup. It may, I just don’t see anything supporting that assertion here.

  3. I’m guessing that one would have to be using a Comcast provided access point (router) in order for them to control the WiFi settings. I use my own networking equipment plugged into the provider’s modem, so they couldn’t turn on public access.

    Overall, I’m happy that my new house is in Charter Cable territory. I’m sure they are several years away from Comcast-level asshattery.

  4. But the J&C made it sound like such a good thing! Who wouldn’t want all those Hotspots?? And then I read where I had to purchase it and it was downhill from there. That was BEFORE reading all the conflicts and disasters you reported! Thanks, JB.

    1. Forgot to mention—I am a Metronet customer and am VERY happy with the service!

  5. Do you think Comcast will comp their customers for the customer-provided electricity they’re piggy-backing off of to run their city-wide hotspot?

  6. I’d love to switch to Metronet, although not for any of the reasons given here. I agree that hotspot should not be a default, but if it weren’t, I would probably turn it on anyway, if I lived anywhere where it makes a difference. Out in the county, it probably wouldn’t benefit anyone. But comcast, for all its customer service problems, at least got service out to us fairly quickly. Metronet has never called me back to offer an estimate on when they are going to make it out to our area, a whole two miles from the current WL boundary. So, its on by default, but there’s an option to turn it off. Not my first choice, but a reasonable compromise. And all my internal networking equipment is already secured, in spite of the fact that, as you say, I’m a Hoosier and know nothing about net neutrality or all them there technical issues, except for the things I’ve picked up working with one of the earliest internet access providers in the state and my past ten years as a systems and network administrator. Is Comcast in it for the money? Yes. Are their interests the same as their customers’? No. Given that, which is true for any corporate ISP, including Metronet, why is widespread public access to the Internet a bad idea? I think it is a good one, one that should be approached with serious attention to the legitimate issues you raise, but without the scare tactics and vitriol.

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