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Did you know that your home router is broadcasting free Wi-Fi to the whole neighborhood?

Comcast Router Wi-Fi Hotspot

You’re probably a good person who tries to help your fellow man whenever you can, but did you know that you might be lending your home Internet connection to anyone and everyone in your area? Last June, Comcast became the latest Internet service provider to offer up its subscribers’ home Internet connections to any other Comcast customers who might be in the area. By default, newer Comcast routers enable a second public Wi-Fi network that anyone within range can connect to using their Comcast account login credentials. As Minnesota’s Pioneer Press recently learned, however, not all Comcast customers knew of the change and some of them were horrified to learn about it.

“I didn’t know it had a hotspot,” Ronaldo Boschulte told the paper in an interview. “That was pretty much a surprise.”

Boschulte was actually unfazed by the revelation — “I think it is a great idea how to expand their service,” he said — but the Pioneer Press spoke with a number of other Comcast customers in the area who were not quite as understanding. The paper said that many subscribers became apprehensive and suspicious when they found out that Comcast was lending out their Internet connections without their knowledge.

For those unaware, Comcast’s newer Xfinity cable modems actually broadcast two different Wi-Fi networks. One is a private network that is password-protected and intended for use only by the subscriber whose home the router sits in. The second is a public “xfinitywifi” Wi-Fi network that any other Comcast customers in the area can connect to for free whenever they want.

Of note, Comcast says that traffic on these publicly broadcasted Wi-Fi networks will not impact customers’ data speed, and as notes, the public Wi-Fi networks can also be disabled if users so desire.

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.

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