xfinityComcast is rolling out a new feature for its Xfinity Internet customers in the Seattle region and other parts of Washington state that turns home wireless routers into public Internet hotspots by broadcasting a separate WiFi signal from the router that can be used by other Comcast/Xfinity customers.

It’s part of a broader national expansion of the XFINITY WiFi Home Hotspot capability. The feature has divided the Comcast user base — with some customers welcoming the wider availability of no-extra-charge hotspots, but others expressing dismay that their home routers would be used to provide Internet access to others.

Comcast assures customers that the signal is separate from their private home networks, keeping those personal networks secure from intrusion and letting customers give visitors Internet access without sharing a password or slowing down their own network. Xfinity customers aren’t charged for the additional usage of their routers.

The company says customers will be notified in advance via email and letter. But the system is opt-out, not opt-in, so if those notices are overlooked, the sudden appearance of the “xfinitywifi” signal can be a shock, especially in apartment complexes or other settings where the signal can be picked up by neighbors or people outside.

For anyone who wants to disable the feature, here’s what Comcast says …

We encourage all subscribers to keep this feature enabled as it allows more people to enjoy the benefits of XFINITY WiFi around the neighborhood. You will always have the ability to disable the XFINITY WiFi feature on your Wireless Gateway by calling 1-800-XFINITY. You can also visit My Account at  http://customer.comcast.com/, click on “Users & Preferences”, and then select “Manage XFINITY WiFi.”

Comcast says the rollout in Western Washington and Spokane will create 219,000 Xfinity WiFi hotspots for its customers in the state, in addition to millions more nationally.

Here’s an FAQ that explains more about the feature, and see a Comcast video (below) that goes into further detail about the feature. Also see Dwight Silverman’s post on his Houston Chronicle blog for more of the technical aspects of the Xfinity WiFi Home Hotspot.

[Editor’s Note: Comcast Business is a GeekWire sponsor.]

Comments

  • wknight

    From the Seattle PI:

    If you have one of the Arris modem/router combos, but are using your
    own Wi-Fi router, the Arris device won’t broadcast the free hotspot.
    Likewise if you are using your own modem as well as your own router.

    So if you have your own modem/router you won’t broadcast.

    http://blog.seattlepi.com/techblog/2014/06/09/comcast-is-turning-your-xfinity-router-into-a-public-wi-fi-hotspot/#24139101=0

    • RubyShelleykip

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  • Brack

    So glad I own my own networking hardware. I barely trust the cable company to provide me with internet access, let alone have control over physical hardware in my home.

  • Jonah

    It would be much more awesome if, when I paid for boost, I got speeds greater than the level below. Ever.

  • Ryan G

    Let me see if I got this straight. Comcast wants to charge users I think its $8 per month to rent equipment, and then on top of that, they are going to allow others to use that equipment to connect to the internet? Somehow it doesn’t sit well with me that I’m paying comcast so that others can use my internet connection, shouldn’t they be paying me? Glad I own my own equipment. It pays for itself within a year, or less.

  • Guest

    Protip: just buy a cable modem and be done with comcast bs
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/
    Also after examining a nabors modem in houston, the guest traffic does use your ip. So to anyone but comcast the traffic looks like its coming from you, and do you think comcast will care enough to check there logs when something illegal is done? (hint: NO)

    • Jus me

      Ummmmm…. You mean your NEIGHBOR???

  • TG

    Nice. Will these freeloaders out on the street help me pay for my internet bill also? I don’t own any Comcast equipment, so I don’t think I’d be sharing my broadband anyway.

    • Jus Me

      You won’t be sharing it if you aren’t using the comcast provided equipment.

  • Tim

    First, is comcast going to give us $$ for electricity usage?
    Second, are they going to reduce our bill because we are providing hotspot?
    Third, people downloading illegal stuff are going to get us in trouble, who is going to pay for legal fee?
    Fourth, I can get password out of unencrypted logins on websites using packet sniffers as long as I am in that public network.

    If you own a Comcast WIFI router, please go ahead and disabled it

  • GeekwireFan

    Has anyone tried disabling ? The link only shows a message. How convenient – maybe they haven’t rolled it out where I am.

    • BurnedByComcast

      Just tried to disable the wifi. Got the same popup message. Now I’m on the phone with a 20 + minute wait time. Going to buy a different modem ASAP. It isn’t bad enough that Arris could be using SSL (can’t find anything about openSSL and this modem). Now, we have to deal with this fiasco. Wish there was another provider in our area. I’d quit Comcast entirely. Yup! I’m ticked.

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