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Comcast To Expand Public WiFi Using Home Internet Connections

samzenpus posted about 10 months ago | from the share-the-wealth dept.

The Internet 203

Bob the Super Hamste writes "The St. Paul Pioneer press is reporting that Comcast is planning on expanding its network of public WiFi hot spots in the Twin Cities area by using home internet connections and user's WiFi routers. Customers will be upgraded to new wireless routers that will have 2 wireless networks, one for the home users and one for the general public. Subscribers to Comcast's Xfinity service and customers that participate in the public WiFi program will be allowed free access to the public WiFi offered by this service. Non Comcast customers get 2 free sessions a month each lasting 1 hour with additional sessions costing money. The article mentions that a similar service already exists and is provided by the Spain-based company Fon."

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203 comments

BT also does this (5, Informative)

richard.cs (1062366) | about 10 months ago | (#44034333)

In the UK BT does this. Their customers can use any of the hotspots for free and everyone else has to pay, no free hour.

Re:BT also does this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44034431)

How on Earth can they enforce that? Nearly all of the techniques I know of cannot stop that, although some require more motivation than others.

Re:BT also does this (4, Informative)

petermgreen (876956) | about 10 months ago | (#44034751)

You connect and then you have to login. No login means no route to the internet.

If someone else is already using the "public" side of the access point when you want to connect then you could probably hijack their session by cloning their IP and mac address but if only the "private" side is in use that option is ruled out.

How about no (4, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 10 months ago | (#44034353)

Does no work for you?

Many, many issues abound here. How secure is the separation between the two networks? What protections do I have in case of someone using my connection maliciously? How will this affect my total bandwidth and speed?

Re:How about no (3, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 10 months ago | (#44034375)

I beg your pardon, but it looks awfully like you're currently trusting your ISP's router. Are you sure that you are entirely sane?

Re:How about no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44034423)

I beg your pardon, but it looks awfully like you're currently trusting a router you purchased yourself. Are you sure that you are entirely sane?

Seriously, someone who's ben arund as long as you apparently have should know better than to think that consumer equipment of all shapes and sizes don't have similar backdoors built into them, Barracuda were the last I remember to get caught out at it. The fact that it came from Cisco or one of the other major manufacturers doesn't mean much of anything.

Re:How about no (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 10 months ago | (#44034433)

I beg your pardon, but it looks awfully like you're currently trusting a router you purchased yourself. Are you sure that you are entirely sane?

Give me a little credit, I'm running dd-wrt and I keep it updated.

Seriously, someone who's ben arund as long as you apparently have should know better than to think that consumer equipment of all shapes and sizes don't have similar backdoors built into them

And that's why I'm running a FOSS firmware image. I buy routers at yard sales, then bin or resell the ones that won't run dd-wrt or tomato.

Re:How about no (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44034493)

Too bad DD-WRT sucks the dogs nuts.

Tomato or open-wrt are the only firmwares worth using.

Re:How about no (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44034541)

I've been happy with Asus-WRT Merlin. I've tried all three of the firmwares you listed and I get faster speeds and all the features I care about.

Re:How about no (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 10 months ago | (#44035085)

Tomato or open-wrt are the only firmwares worth using.

I don't like how infrequently tomato gets updated, or how fragmented the tomato landscape is.

Overrated? (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 10 months ago | (#44035199)

OK, so it's not the best comment ever, but it's a fact that you can't just go to one website for all the devices supported by some variant of tomato. The plethora of tomato variants means chasing around the web to figure out which flavor[s] will even support your hardware, and if they have the features you need. DD-WRT (or for that matter OpenWRT) provides a single website which permits a quick compatibility check. DD-WRT in particular has extensive and well-indexed installation instructions for specific hardware. Tomato has none of that. If you don't think that's useful information, by all means, mod this comment "Overrated" as well.

Re:How about no (2)

ron_ivi (607351) | about 10 months ago | (#44034587)

You're still welcome to run a ddt-wrt box *behind* your ISPs router (not unlike what you're already doing). They just want to put one more of their routers on your side of the last-mile.

Re:How about no (2)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 10 months ago | (#44034523)

Put your own router between you and it.

Personally, I like this idea.

Re:How about no (1)

tattood (855883) | about 10 months ago | (#44034971)

What does this solve? Your traffic still goes through the ISP router after it goes through your router. Your solution only solves one of the 3 questions asked by GP.

Re:How about no (2)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 10 months ago | (#44034455)

Many, many issues abound here. How secure is the separation between the two networks? What protections do I have in case of someone using my connection maliciously? How will this affect my total bandwidth and speed?

In the UK, it's voluntary, and it's your payment for being able to use free WiFi everywhere. How secure is it? Well, your WiFi is broadcasting anyway, so how secure do you think _that_ is? If someone uses your connection maliciously - can you think of a better alibi? Yes, your WiFi is used, and your Internet bandwidth is used.

Re:How about no (3, Informative)

mrbester (200927) | about 10 months ago | (#44034491)

In addition there is QoS running so the internal network NIC has priority over the open one.

Re:How about no (1)

rsmith84 (2540216) | about 10 months ago | (#44034565)

My router runs DD-WRT and my SSID is not being broadcast publicly. Then again I have a paranoid obsession with security and logic.

Re:How about no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44034647)

That just means you broadcast your SSID from the client every time a connection need to be made to the AP (and that is regardless of it being in range or not)

Hidding you SSID is not adding anything worhtwhile to security... its probably less usefull than MAC filtering - and that have barely stopped anyone yet

Re:How about no (2)

Dahamma (304068) | about 10 months ago | (#44034473)

It you had RTFA they addressed all of your questions already.

Re:RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44034543)

Are ye daft, man? To do such a thing would be a violation of the slashdot code of conduct!

Re:How about no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44034487)

All of these questions are valid, If answered well I would join immediately. But I suspect they aren't going to be answered well.

Re:How about no (4, Informative)

tattood (855883) | about 10 months ago | (#44035035)

FTFA:

Security. Properly configured, a router with public-access Wi-Fi should not represent a security risk for those on the router's private and secure network. The technical reasons for this are a bit complicated; read an Open Wireless Movement explanation at openwireless.org [openwireless.org].

Service degradation. Those using the slower public portion of a home router typically won't degrade performance on the faster private side. Future routers would speed up public access when the private side isn't being used and give the private network priority if required.

Legal liability. Those who fear being blamed for misuse of their public Wi-Fi signals are said to be protected under a "safe harbor" doctrine akin to that protecting Internet service providers. In other words, they're likely not liable for the mischief of porn purveyors or music pirates.

Freeloading. Fear of freeloaders is misplaced, the Open Wireless Movement believes. "Sharing capacity helps everyone," it says. "If you've ever been without Internet access and needed to check an email, you will remember how useful open networks can be in a pinch."

Legal liability (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | about 10 months ago | (#44035653)

You'll still spend $5 grand defending yourself from the lawsuit, and God help you if it's an obscenity charge and you're not a happily married, dashing 6'5" tall man...

Re:How about no (3, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 10 months ago | (#44034645)

"Does no work for you?"

Yes, "no" works for me, but for completely different reasons.

I already do this, using my own cable adapter and my own router. And it is free for my neighbors and passersby to use. No charges from Comcast or anybody else. I do it as a free public service.

And you have NO LEGAL LIABILITY for strangers using your Wi-Fi to perform illegal acts without your permission. Any more than an "internet cafe" does. People use it as they please, and they are responsible for their own actions. There have been many, many court cases over this by now.

Think about it. If somebody came into your yard without explicit permission, grabbed your lawn de-thatching tool, and hit somebody over the head with it, would you be "liable" for murder? Hell, no. Nor are you liable, generally speaking, if you (legally) loan someone your gun and they shoot somebody with it. Unless of course you knew their intent ahead of time and loaned it to them specifically for doing that. But we're talking here about somebody doing something without your foreknowledge.

So why should a router be any different? (Hint: it isn't.)

By the way: the EFF recommends doing this [eff.org] as a courtesy to your neighbors and the public, and assures you that there is no liability.

Again generally speaking, about the only time you are liable for someone's unauthorized use of your tools is when it is an automobile, and even that law is on pretty shaky legal ground.

Re:How about no (3, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 10 months ago | (#44034663)

I should also add that the DMCA has a specific safe-harbor provision that protects providers of an internet service from liability for what users do with it. There is nothing in the law saying the service has to be commercial or for-profit. So your ass is covered.

Re:How about no (1)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#44034911)

I think if your look at your existing TOS this would be spelled out as not allowed, so legal or not, they could drop you if it became obvious.
Of course, that will disappear from Comcast's agreement once this gets implemented.

A lot of comcast routers already come set up with a guest account. These are on a separate Vnet, and "can't" access your stuff. (Can't until someone hackes it that is). And, previously, you couldn't access this unless the home owner gave you their guest password.

Now they are going to make that last bit un-necessary for users that opt in.
I think its a great idea, as long as its fully firewalled.

But still you would think they have to affect your bandwidth. And a gamer or downloader of large files might notice.
Personally I would seldom be inconvenienced by this unless it started to seriously eat into my speed.

Re:How about no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44035293)

And you have NO LEGAL LIABILITY for strangers using your Wi-Fi to perform illegal acts without your permission. Any more than an "internet cafe" does. People use it as they please, and they are responsible for their own actions. There have been many, many court cases over this by now.

Yes, and cases like this have popped up in the news from time to time. The owners of the open routers have not been found liable in any of the court cases I've seen. Emphasis on the "court cases".

The owners of these open routers have just had the FBI crash through their front doors in the early morning hours, ransack their homes and sieze any appliance that can add two numbers together.

I can imagine that "It wasn't me! It must have been some stranger using my wi-fi!" does a fantastic job of convincing law enforcement that you weren't involved in any crime. I suppose they just apologize and leave without your phone, computer(s), media and certainly don't tell your neighbors / news outlets that you've been raided on suspicion of X, Y and Z while you spend tens of thousands to lawyer-up.

If you want to take the chance of letting any random person use your wi-fi, go for it. That's your choice, but I'll be keeping my router locked-down and keep checking the logs frequently.

Re:How about no (1)

raju1kabir (251972) | about 10 months ago | (#44034867)

Many, many issues abound here. How secure is the separation between the two networks? What protections do I have in case of someone using my connection maliciously? How will this affect my total bandwidth and speed?

Dutch cable ISP Ziggo does this [ziggo.nl]. There's a separate 10mbps for the public hotspots that doesn't come out of your own capacity. Guests also use a different IP, and of course they have to log in so their usage can be tracked back to their home account.

Re:How about no (1)

mattventura (1408229) | about 10 months ago | (#44035215)

I'm more curious about how they enforce the "two free one-hour sessions". Sounds like it would be possible (although maybe inconvenient) to get unlimited free wifi from this.

Re:How about no (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 10 months ago | (#44035775)

The secure thing to do would be to put the Comcast router in a Faraday Cage. Put a wifi bridge inside the cage with it that has a wireless link to your own Router outside the Faraday Cage.

Anything else is a security risk.

This would probably be a viable business idea, a small cage to house the router as a turnkey product.

So the cutomers get a kick back? (1, Insightful)

future assassin (639396) | about 10 months ago | (#44034355)

I mean you're using my house and internet connections to make money from me. I"d expect 50% commission.

Re:So the cutomers get a kick back? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44034463)

I mean you're using my house and internet connections to make money from me. I"d expect 50% commission.

The kickback is that you get to use the service yourself when you're not in your own home. FTFA:

customers that participate in the public WiFi program will be allowed free access to the public WiFi offered by this service

Re:So the cutomers get a kick back? (2)

pspahn (1175617) | about 10 months ago | (#44034485)

But don't you also get the service to use for yourself? It seems like a superficially fair trade-off, though, it very well may not be.

What if this technology leads to the obsolescence of the standard cell-phone plan? Why pay an additional $75/mo (or whatever you pay these days, I haven't had a cell phone in years) when you can just have your own non-cellphone Android device that can piggy back on readily available WiFi to make phone calls and sends texts with VOIP? That's basically what I do now. I have a $50/mo 4g mobile hotspot and use my Android "MP3" player for Google Voice. My internet works all around the city I live in (and is stretching to the suburbs fairly well also) so I usually have a number that people can reach me at. The latency doesn't provide the cleanest of voice calls, but then again, I don't really care. If you need to get a hold of me, leave me a voice mail and I will get back to you (from a land-line at work, etc). I don't like being expected to answer a phone call 24/7.

Re: So the cutomers get a kick back? (1)

alen (225700) | about 10 months ago | (#44034551)

Out in the burbs they have separate residential and commercial areas. So it's unlikely you will be out and about and get free wifi everywhere

Re:So the cutomers get a kick back? (1)

Aryden (1872756) | about 10 months ago | (#44034729)

In my area, there are maybe 2-3 houses in total using comcast for internet, it's all verizon fios or dsl.

Re:So the cutomers get a kick back? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44034781)

That would work with a mobile hotspot, but not so much with jumping from WiFi AP to WiFi AP. You would need to stay in the one spot until you finish your call or the call would be dropped, or a massive lag spike.

Re:So the cutomers get a kick back? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about 10 months ago | (#44034975)

Service piggybacked on home wifi without externally mounted access points is going to suck unless you are very close to the house from which is served. Wifi is a pretty short range system as it is and the external walls of the house. I doubt there will be any decent handoff support either and I think it is likely we will see several competing systems.

So to use it you will have to find a house with a good signal and then stay there while you use it. Like with the old "rabbit phones" but unlike the old rabbit phones they won't be signposted and it will be difficult to receive incoming communications.

Re:So the cutomers get a kick back? (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about 10 months ago | (#44035285)

Indeed, fair enough. I was mostly picturing my above post in a world a few years more advanced than the one we live in now.

Better WiFi (or WiMax, etc) should allow this eventually.

Handoffs per minute for vehicle passenger (1)

tepples (727027) | about 10 months ago | (#44035679)

Better WiFi (or WiMax, etc) should allow this eventually.

There are deployments of WiMAX technology, but they've been on licensed spectrum owned by cellular carriers. In any case, if you plan to serve people from a home router, how many handoffs per minute would it take to serve a customer in a bus moving at 30 mph (50 km/h)?

Re:So the cutomers get a kick back? (2)

unrtst (777550) | about 10 months ago | (#44035047)

So the customers get a kick back?

Yes. The kick back is that you get to use all the other wifi hotspots that are setup the same way by other customers for free (or, as part of your package). It actually seems like a decent little "give some, get a lot back" type of setup, except the part where they allow random users that aren't contributing hotspots to the system (but they do charge them and, at least hypothetically, that could be going towards maintenance/bandwidth/etc**).

** no, I'm not naive. This is the part they want to profit off of. The mutual agreement to share wifi networks could have been setup by anyone without a carriers involvement, or they could have set it up without an additional profit motivation, but that's not the case. This gives them a selling point; it keeps people from putting money into other networks pockets (keep them on comcast networks); it widens their grasp; it's a cheap grab at a potentially giant amount of wifi hotspots for nearly free; and it's a potential money maker on people that aren't participating; and later one, they can flip the switch and upcharge existing customers.

Re:So the cutomers get a kick back? (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 10 months ago | (#44035211)

Be grateful they don't just pull the plug when you get all uppity like that.

This whole thing is a scam to pacify those calling for municipal WiFi and eliminating monopolies... It's too bad it will probably work

easier (5, Funny)

Todd Palin (1402501) | about 10 months ago | (#44034367)

Great idea. My neighbor keeps changing his password. This would be a lot easier.

Re:easier (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44035627)

Until you notice that WPS is enable then you realize all you have to do is ask for the new password :)

Comcast Router? I think not (2)

Rastl (955935) | about 10 months ago | (#44034373)

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why you buy your own router instead of renting one from the cable provider.

Re:Comcast Router? I think not (2)

Derekloffin (741455) | about 10 months ago | (#44034409)

That all depends. Don't know about Comcast, but both my local providers, the modem and the router are the same thing. They are a combined device. Not even sure you can get separate ones anymore.

Re:Comcast Router? I think not (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44034527)

Does it still have an ethernet port on the cable modem router device? Then it's no problem, plug in your own wifi router and wrap theirs in old tin foil hats.

Re:Comcast Router? I think not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44034787)

Then it's no problem, plug in your own wifi router and wrap theirs in old tin foil hats.

Oh Shit! I shouldn't have thrown them out! I just thought the NSA was going to get suspicious that I had so many in my closet... Damn! Damn!

Re:Comcast Router? I think not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44034529)

That all depends. Don't know about Comcast, but both my local providers, the modem and the router are the same thing. They are a combined device. Not even sure you can get separate ones anymore.

I know you can still get the plain DSL modems. Not sure about cable. In any case, if you are trying to get one from the provider, you'll just need to lie and tell them that you're doing a single computer installation rather than a home network. If that fails, the local electronics store has them for about $50.

Re:Comcast Router? I think not (1)

dkuntz (220364) | about 10 months ago | (#44035327)

You can get cable modems at most big box stores, amazon, newegg, best buy, etc. Xoom, Motorola, and a few others. Work fine with Comcast, though you do have to call them so they can add the HFC MAC to your account. Now, the Moto ones WILL do routing, but only when the cable network is down (ie: it'll do DHCP on the 172 range, so that when the internet dies, if you're just using a switch, your LAN connects still work, but that really only counts if you're using a switch, and each system has an IP assigned from comcast, and not using another router for wifi, etc)

Re:Comcast Router? I think not (1)

XnavxeMiyyep (782119) | about 10 months ago | (#44034627)

Just buy your own modem too; it will save you money in the long run anyway.

Re:Comcast Router? I think not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44035607)

I actually did this with Comcast, they were a little confused about why I didn't want their modem. So 15 minutes later and I'm online. Fast forward a couple years, I am moving to an area that doesn't have Comcast. I cancel my service with Comcast. They send me a bill for the cable modem I never received/returned.

Re:Comcast Router? I think not (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 10 months ago | (#44034655)

In my limited experience with the three internet providers that service my home...

They usually use industry standard equipment that uses industry standard protocols. This means that you can usually purchase your own equipment, it just may take a bit more work on your part because you may need to get them to provision your modem or something.

Personally, I have *ALL* of my equipment behind a firewall I have provided and control. The ISP's equipment is usually cheap throwaway junk anyway, so I try not to use it if I can. If I'm forced to use their stuff I create a DMZ and I firewall off my stuff from theirs as much as possible. Yea, it's work, but they simply don't need access to my network.

Re:Comcast Router? I think not (1)

edjs (1043612) | about 10 months ago | (#44035015)

Typically the modem/router combo devices can be configured to act as a bridge only, though you may have to ask the cableco to enable it.

Re:Comcast Router? I think not (1)

NemosomeN (670035) | about 10 months ago | (#44035177)

Even if you can't get separate ones, you can disable the router part and use the modem as a bridge. I have a combo modem/router from my provider, and I disabled the router part to use my own.

Re:Comcast Router? I think not (1)

Arker (91948) | about 10 months ago | (#44035333)

You can certainly get separate ones, there are tons of models available. Why do people think they have to use what the ISP provides? The ISP shouldnt be providing anything past provisioning the modem, they dont want to be, and when customers demand otherwise they get the cheapest box to setup and administer that the ISP can possibly find. If you are remotely technical you should just buy yourself a decent modem and router and set them up and administer them yourself. All you need the ISP to do is provision the modem.

Re:Comcast Router? I think not (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 10 months ago | (#44035619)

Comcast gives you a choice between renting a combo modem/router, a modem only, or providing your own modem.

let me get this straight. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44034381)

So Comcast is selling people bandwidth and then reselling that bandwidth through the customers location? Reselling that bandwidth using customers electricity?

Thank you, no thanks.

Re:let me get this straight. (2)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#44035071)

That pretty much sums it up.

In a down-town area or any dense residential apartment situation a comcast user might find this appealing because they could roam all over the neighborhood and stay on wifi. But chances are, that is exactly the sort of situation where participation could cripple the homeowners use of their own connection.

TFA says this:

Service degradation. Those using the slower public portion of a home router typically won't degrade performance on the faster private side. Future routers would speed up public access when the private side isn't being used and give the private network priority if required.

But If I sign up for service just adequate to meet my needs any additional load (even if slower) is going to be felt.

And if you happen to have an apartment next to a bar or popular restaurant you can expect your router to be busy all day with the overload of connecting and disconnecting smartphones and people soaking up your bandwidth.

I wouldn't begrudge them the immeasurably small increase in electricity usage, but if they can't assure my bandwidth and speed I would be reluctant to join the program.

Re:let me get this straight. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 10 months ago | (#44035189)

But If I sign up for service just adequate to meet my needs any additional load (even if slower) is going to be felt.

Virtually no cable providers are selling the amount of service that their equipment can provide. There is headroom.

And if you happen to have an apartment next to a bar or popular restaurant you can expect your router to be busy all day with the overload of connecting and disconnecting smartphones and people soaking up your bandwidth.

Oh noes! It will have to handle packets!

Come on, what could possible go wrong? (0)

SengirV (203400) | about 10 months ago | (#44034385)

smh

taking the rap for child pron, hacking, uploading (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 10 months ago | (#44034451)

taking the rap for child pron, hacking, uploading files, even making a terrorist threat.

When they trace the IP will it show up as pubic wifi or Comcast user ID? or the persons who's home this is it?

Re:taking the rap for child pron, hacking, uploadi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44034525)

If people are going to child porn anywhere, it's probably the pubic wifi.

Re:taking the rap for child pron, hacking, uploadi (1)

NemosomeN (670035) | about 10 months ago | (#44035191)

Of all of these, the most dangerous is "uploading files," assuming you mean music or movies.

Re:taking the rap for child pron, hacking, uploadi (1)

scubamage (727538) | about 10 months ago | (#44035515)

There are two access points/antennas, both in the same box, and each getting its own DHCP address from the comcast CMTS. So if someone uses the public access, it will show up as the public side, not yours. Disclaimer: I am a Comcast employee.

Re:taking the rap for child pron, hacking, uploadi (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 10 months ago | (#44035553)

Ok MR comcast are you 100% on that and if some where fringed will Comcast pay 100% of all legal costs even be forced to offer some one a job if they lost there has comcast messed this up and some has to do some pre trial jail time do to Comcast mess up?

Re:taking the rap for child pron, hacking, uploadi (1)

scubamage (727538) | about 10 months ago | (#44035601)

Yes, I'm 100% on that. I worked next door to the engineers who built the system. Lots of cable systems include numerous devices, for instance eMTAs and eDVAs. Each one gets its own IP address, is applied different DSCP tags, etc.

Same in Portugal (1, Informative)

kennycoder (788223) | about 10 months ago | (#44034387)

We have the same system with Zon Fon in Portugal. Since they are a very popular service we get most of the coverage in the whole country. Shame that the routers are very crappy.

Wi-Fi Crowding (3, Insightful)

SIGBUS (8236) | about 10 months ago | (#44034403)

Aside from the trust issues mentioned elsewhere, the other thing I don't like about this is that it'll flood the neighborhood with even more 2.4 GHz clutter.

5 GHz is not a panacea; it's astonishingly poor at penetrating walls, to the point that I treat my 5 GHz AP as only useful in the same room.

Re:Wi-Fi Crowding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44034575)

Get a better AP. My AP has no problem covering my property and 2 story house with a nice, strong, 5GHz signal.

Re:Wi-Fi Crowding (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 10 months ago | (#44035119)

it'll flood the neighborhood with even more 2.4 GHz clutter.

Lucky for you, it really won't. This is just a matter of having multiple SSIDs on the same wireless radio. Some home APs have "guest network" settings, and open firmware like OpenWRT gives you free-reign to create as many SSIDs and networks as you want, just like ethernet sub-interfaces, or perhaps more like VLANs. It's still only got the one radio, using just the one radio channel you were already using. But it's broadcasting two SSIDs, and the networks are completely independent. In short, no extra interference (unless you're counting greater utilization of those existing APs), just extra SSIDs piggy-backed on those same channels.

5 GHz is not a panacea; it's astonishingly poor at penetrating walls,

It's very good at making its way AROUND walls, and it's also extremely good at penetrating windows, which is probably most relevant in this case. In my own testing, my AP has the same coverage radius outside my house, whether I use 2.4GHz or 5GHz.

I'm only staying on 2.4GHz because of two older 802.11g devices which are of course 2.4GHz-only. If I was in a denser area, maybe the benefits of 5GHz would be enough to justify replacing those old devices a bit more quickly.

Re:Wi-Fi Crowding (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 10 months ago | (#44035563)

It's still only got the one radio, using just the one radio channel you were already using.

That's the problem. It very well may be using the channel I'm already using. (Actually, two that I'm already using when I turn on my second AP.) Since I can't control which one it uses, it may very well bounce around as Comcast sees fit to bounce their digital channels around. What's to stop it from landing smack on top of the wireless channel(s) I'm already using?

I'm not sure I would want any enticement for people to stand around outside my house browsing the web. Move along, people. Nothing to see here.

Re:Wi-Fi Crowding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44035165)

I used to have a problem with my 5 GHz network, then I moved to a different channel. Turns out the higher channels are allowed to transmit at a much higher power, while I'd been using the lowest channel on the theory that lower frequencies would penetrate better. They might, but they're using 1/4th the power, so...

Wi-Fi wants to be free. (1)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | about 10 months ago | (#44034405)

"Wi-Fi wants to be free. And a growing number of companies and nonprofits are aggressively expanding the definition of "free Wi-Fi." This has primarily involved ..."
Charging ignorant saps for things they could configure themselves for free.

Re:Wi-Fi wants to be free. (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about 10 months ago | (#44034507)

Not quite. Sure I could enable this on my router, it's got guest network capability. But it'd eat my bandwidth, and it'd point back to me as the subscriber responsible for the access point. With the ISP doing it, though, the guest network wouldn't count towards my bandwidth and it'd be the ISP, not me, responsible for any abuse of the guest network since it's them offering access through it, not me. That's all stuff I can't do myself for free.

Re:Wi-Fi wants to be free. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44034621)

Are you sure about that? I'd be nervous that they set it up correctly so I don't seem like the source for both of those access points in their records. I mean, what kind of assurances do you have they are even doing it correctly? These pople have made some massive mistakes in the past.

Re:Wi-Fi wants to be free. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44034723)

Who cares? The point is that you can blame them. Consider the following situation:
1 - They set it up dumb.
2 - Someone comes by and abuses the network downloading RIAA material.
3 - You get sued.
4 - You hand the lawsuit to the ISP and RIAA with the note: "The ISP set up this service against my wishes, and has profited from this activity."

Re:Wi-Fi wants to be free. (1)

raju1kabir (251972) | about 10 months ago | (#44034909)

what kind of assurances do you have they are even doing it correctly?

My ISP provides a separate external IP address for guest access. It took about 10 seconds to confirm that. How hard is it to check your IP address?

BT in the UK (1, Informative)

jisatsusha (755173) | about 10 months ago | (#44034467)

BT already does this in the UK. By default, it's enabled for all customers, but you can disable it. it's called BT Fon. Basically BT customers who opt-in get to use internet through any other customer's wifi for free, other people can pay to use it otherwise.

http://www.btfon.com/ [btfon.com]

This sounds fun. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44034517)

So is there anything significant preventing people from making a reasonable facsimile of Comcast's captive portal page, named their WAP "COMCAST FREE WIFI LOL", presenting the login page, and stealing comcast user credentials?

Wall of Sheep (1)

Molochi (555357) | about 10 months ago | (#44035629)

Your spoofed webwall will lack the correct Comcast cert and trigger security software warnings... not that most people wouldn't give you the info anyways.

Today that kind of spoof can be done by anyone, anywhere with a smartphone app.

Beats leasing the top of light post. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44034539)

They just take your location. If you have a busy location you can have router that pay you for the co location.
It looks like something for nothing for them while they ram it to us in prices.

600.000 hotspots in Belgium (1)

wimg (300673) | about 10 months ago | (#44034711)

Belgian ISP Telenet is doing this on 600.000 of its customers' routers. They call it 'homespot'.

Customers can login to any homespot (another customer's router) or any hotspot (at restaurants, airports, train stations, etc.) free of charge.

SOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44034719)

I guess I'm out of luck, as I own my own router and modem and don't rent from them...

Re:SOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44035645)

It's sad people rent this equipment from anyone. Nobody ever asked these customers if they wanted to pay for a piece of hardware once, or once a year. Nobody every told these customers that routers and modems aren't expensive. After a year of renting these items, you should own them because you've already paid for 2-4 of them.

Safe Harbor = Safe Downloads? (1, Insightful)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about 10 months ago | (#44034733)

From the article:

Legal liability. Those who fear being blamed for misuse of their public Wi-Fi signals are said to be protected under a "safe harbor" doctrine akin to that protecting Internet service providers. In other words, they're likely not liable for the mischief of porn purveyors or music pirates.

So when I'm doing all sorts of legal stuff I stay on my private network, and then when I want to switch over to download illegal content, I just switch over to the free comcast network and I'm all set?

NO. the law doesn't apply. (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about 10 months ago | (#44035385)

Comcast is part of the whole scheme to punish you if you get 6 strikes against you by the movie/music mafia. $30 to dispute your assumed guilty verdict - this only means that they won't punish you for what somebody does on your 2nd open wifi connection.

I think its OK, if... (1)

edelbrp (62429) | about 10 months ago | (#44034839)

You can opt out and it only applies to Comcast rented equipment. There are two benefits, the obvious being more widespread WiFi availability and those who openly want to share their network with neighbors (as a family member of mine does) can have increased security by locking their own network while still having the public one available. It would be nice if Comcast gave participants a $5 monthly discount or something for participating, but I don't see that happening.

Keep them separate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44034955)

This is why I have always insisted that my modem and router be two separate devices. I own both, but Comcast can send configuration information to the modem. The router...nope.

rent free? I don't think so (2, Interesting)

holophrastic (221104) | about 10 months ago | (#44035101)

so you want me to host their equipment, maintain their equipment, protect their equipment, power their equipment, and house their equipment, all while they profit from that equipment and don't pay me any rent? Really? That's the plan? Free real estate? Even worse, I'm paying them for their service that I do use?

No.

Oh wait, do I get to monitor the traffic, and sell whatever I find? Or are they the only ones who can do that?

Re:rent free? I don't think so (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 10 months ago | (#44035171)

so you want me to host their equipment, maintain their equipment, protect their equipment, power their equipment, and house their equipment

We're talking about the cable company. They already own the equipment, so nothing is changing. Nice attempt at relevance, but you missed the mark.

Re:rent free? I don't think so (2)

Zof (267674) | about 10 months ago | (#44035401)

I actually own my cable modem and router, as well pay for the power it uses. Sure, the cable company owns everything upstream of that. If they want to provide public WiFi why not stick an AP on the pole on the road outside my place?

Re:rent free? I don't think so (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 10 months ago | (#44035705)

Obviously they're hoping you'll install a UPS. That's expensive for them to do everywhere.

saint paul (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44035155)

yep sounds right.
saint paul financed and built the cable network.
then gave it to comcast for free,zilch,goose egg,zero dollars,no restrictions.
they pretty much do and charge what they want around here.

chance of customers stopping this=0.

i'm using something that works 4g great,but i'm keeping my mouth shut.
and no its not a national carrier.

waiting for the end regards,
mike

Best use I've seen for this (1)

SleepyHappyDoc (813919) | about 10 months ago | (#44035497)

You can gang the Xfinitywifi up with your regular cable connection. See here: http://www.connectify.me/alex-connects-thank-you-comcast/ [connectify.me]

I don't work for them or anything, but doubling your bandwidth sounds pretty good to me.

Re:Best use I've seen for this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44035687)

So what do you do for the other 22 hours in a day?
I guess this would be good for the casual pirate that only steals shit in 2 1-hour blocks a day?

holy crap (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 10 months ago | (#44035769)

This is THE stupidest idea there has ever been. Unless they assign a modem 2 IPs (oh that's right, we're almost out of those things) then anyone can make you look like you downloaded illegal stuff. Or they can jam up the router's memory by DDOSing it or accidentally by running too many torrents at once. They put pathetic amounts of buffer memory in those. Then someone could hack the router in theory and mess with your side of it. I mean seriously, this is the worst tech idea there has ever been.
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