Over the next few months in the Chicago area, Comcast is turning on a feature that turns customer networks into public Wi-Fi hotspots. After a firmware upgrade is installed, 'visitors will use their own Xfinity credentials to sign on, and will not need the homeowner's permission or password to tap into their Wi-Fi signal'. The homegrown network will also be available to non-subscribers free for several hours each month, or on a pay-per-use basis.
Comcast claims that any outside usage should not affect the speed or security of the home subscriber's private network, but knowledge of how Comast provides bandwidth to local neighborhoods puts doubt on this statement since bandwidth available is shared by all users. Comcast users already participating in this scheme in other cities have complained about a reduction in their internet speed.
Home internet subscribers will automatically participate in the network's growing infrastructure. You can choose to opt-out, (see instructions below) because Comcast is relying on your property, your electricity, and your lack of tech-savvy to increase their network footprint.
Comcast is "using" your connection to market their internet service to new and current users. This does not benefit your private connection to the internet in any way.
Comcast charges a premiuim for their combined internet service, and they are hoping to keep their current customers from leaving their service for less expensive internet service providers, by allowing their customers access private networks wherever they go.
Just imagine someone connecting to your home network and downloads illegal materials. Now your IP address -- and by proxy your home -- have been linked to that investigation. While you may eventually be vindicated, it may take federal agents months after ripping through your house to realize it was not you, but one of possibly hundreds of "guest" Comcast users (or someone with one of their passwords) who accessed your home network.
Thus think twice before you accept Comcast's new "open" network.
How to disable the public wifi hotspot in your infinity router:
Logon to your XFINITY account,
Click on USERS & PREFERENCES,
then select BASIC SETTINGS,
the link to disable is under your SERVICE ADDRESS. (MANAGE XFINITY WIFI)