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Comcast Wifi - need to know
Old 12-03-2014, 07:55 AM   #1
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Comcast Wifi - need to know

I am probably the last person to discover that Comcast has decided to allow anyone connect to my home cable modem... for free.

I should have read the entire hundreds of pages of legal agreement but I was too lazy. I have now read, and understand how the system works. The Q & A explains why cars sometime park in the street, near my house...with the person sitting at the wheel. I thought they were just using their cell phones, but now realize they were using my wifi hotspot signal. No harm, but uncomfortable to know that anyone nearby can tie into my signal. Since I have hi-speed, it would be possible for a nearby neighbor to connect for free.

The way the system is supposed to work, is that anyone with a medium to hi speed connection, can connect to anywhere there is a xfinity hotspot, just by signing in with their Comcast password. That means that people like me, who never paid attention to the XFINITYWiFi signal... are sharing their connection. Also... anyone...Comcast customer or not, can use the signal for an hour at a time, by signing up for the "free" account.

If this is as extensive as I think, it should be easy to drive around any neighborhood and find a free connection.

Since I haven't seen this discussed anywhere on this forum, I assume that I'm the last to know, and the OP should drop off the list. Just a sign of losing track of the newer technology.

The Comcast WIFI FAQ is here:
XFINITY WiFi - FAQs
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Old 12-03-2014, 08:04 AM   #2
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You're safe:

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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.”
XFINITY WiFi - FAQs (under "Home Hotspot" heading)
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Old 12-03-2014, 08:10 AM   #3
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you can always disable the feature by visiting My Account at http://customer.comcast.com/, clicking on “Users & Preferences”, and then selecting “Manage XFINITY WiFi.”

At least it is not an "open" signal and requires a comcast login.

It would not make sense for a neighbor to use your hotspot since they would need a comcast login to get in, and if they have a login, they have thier own hotspot.
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Old 12-03-2014, 08:39 AM   #4
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They've been calling me and leaving messages for a month telling me that I should expect a letter describing what I have to do to install their new equipment. Aside from the nutty practice of calling to say a letter is coming, but never sending the letter, what should I expect? Is this better than my current Comcast service (and in home wifi using my own equipment) in any way?
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Old 12-03-2014, 09:03 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by ChiliPepr View Post
It would not make sense for a neighbor to use your hotspot since they would need a comcast login to get in, and if they have a login, they have thier own hotspot.
They probably won't.... nearby neighbors aren't very tech savvy, but... they could, and use my high speed bandwidth 50Mbps for streaming.

I probably won't opt out... I know that is suggested, but when that happens, I couldn't share other Infinity hot spots. Haven't done that yet, but it's a possibility.

It's just a little bit creepy to realize that the largest internet provider has opened this signal sharing, without a lot of news articles and concern about privacy.

My son indicated he thought that a hacker might be able to get get through the encryption. I doubt that I'd have anything of real value, or that anyone would come into our CCRC to do anything bad, but am not sure that others would have this first level screening.

Am a little curious: Anyone here have that INFINITYWiFi signal coming from their wireless router?
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Old 12-03-2014, 09:11 AM   #6
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It's just a little bit creepy to realize that the largest internet provider has opened this signal sharing, without a lot of news articles and concern about privacy.
There have been tons of articles about it in the privacy and internet arena. You're just reading the wrong stuff. I don't think the mainstream media has tumbled to it much yet. Wait for a slow news day and somebody might pick it up.
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Old 12-03-2014, 09:30 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
Am a little curious: Anyone here have that INFINITYWiFi signal coming from their wireless router?
We have Comcast, but we're on the slow speed and I know we're not transmitting. I was told you get access only if you buy the higher speed level. We bought our modem and wireless router instead of renting the Comcast hardware, although they keep trying to charge use for leasing our own hardware!

There is this line of info from the FAQ, "Wireless routers purchased at retail outlets don’t support the XFINITY WiFi service".

I really doubt the people sitting in their cars are non-Comcast users, since they can only get 2 free 60 min sessions per month. I've tried getting into my neighbor's Xfinity wifi and I've never seen the guest option, so it may not be available in my area.
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Old 12-03-2014, 10:12 AM   #8
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Interesting. I'm having the comcast wireless gateway installed next week, so I'll be sure to read the FAQ and look into the opt out options.
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Old 12-03-2014, 10:23 AM   #9
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This is one reason why I only have a cable modem from Comcast (an Arris CM820) and not a modem/router/wifi.

I have my own router/wifi that I bought myself, and I keep it locked down pretty tight. I turn the radios off when I leave home, and even when they're on, it's locked down with WPA2 and MAC access list.

No way I would let strangers use my wifi, even if it did require a Comcast login. I'd opt out of that "feature" in a heartbeat.
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Old 12-03-2014, 10:38 AM   #10
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They probably won't.... nearby neighbors aren't very tech savvy, but... they could, and use my high speed bandwidth 50Mbps for streaming.

I probably won't opt out... I know that is suggested, but when that happens, I couldn't share other Infinity hot spots. Haven't done that yet, but it's a possibility.

It's just a little bit creepy to realize that the largest internet provider has opened this signal sharing, without a lot of news articles and concern about privacy.

My son indicated he thought that a hacker might be able to get get through the encryption. I doubt that I'd have anything of real value, or that anyone would come into our CCRC to do anything bad, but am not sure that others would have this first level screening.

Am a little curious: Anyone here have that INFINITYWiFi signal coming from their wireless router?
There's been some discussion of the public wifi here, but not in a dedicated thread. I've mentioned it a few times, and I recall mentioning that one could opt out. I've been surprised by the lack of attention, but maybe I am too much a skeptic.

I don't have the modem in discussion. There is no wifi in my older docsis 3.0 modem. I may go and buy a newer one someday just to avoid the public sharing in the comcast beast box.

My F-I-L has the newer modem. I had great difficulty signing on to the secure WPA, and finally went with the public wifi from his router. I wasn't happy about it.

It is true that everything boasted about as un-hackable and safe will eventually be cracked. I trust comcast as much as I trust home depot.

If you disable this in your own modem I'm not so sure that disallows you from using the public signal if you're out and about.

If you use the public wifi from your own modem, then you're turning down the extra safety of staying on your own LAN.
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Old 12-03-2014, 10:52 AM   #11
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In addition to opting out as Comcast has allowed, the second best thing to do (don't use WiFi is the best, but not real feasible) is to simply hide your SSID. With this, *most* people won't know your signal is there and then people won't "suck up" your bandwidth.
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Old 12-03-2014, 10:53 AM   #12
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We have Comcast, but we're on the slow speed and I know we're not transmitting. I was told you get access only if you buy the higher speed level. We bought our modem and wireless router instead of renting the Comcast hardware, although they keep trying to charge use for leasing our own hardware!

There is this line of info from the FAQ, "Wireless routers purchased at retail outlets don’t support the XFINITY WiFi service".

I really doubt the people sitting in their cars are non-Comcast users, since they can only get 2 free 60 min sessions per month. I've tried getting into my neighbor's Xfinity wifi and I've never seen the guest option, so it may not be available in my area.
I just took a peak at the surrounding wifi signals, and see xfinitywifi available. If I wanted to join, I'd select that hotspot. Then go to browser page and be redirected to xfinity login.
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Old 12-03-2014, 11:00 AM   #13
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I just took a peak at the surrounding wifi signals, and see xfinitywifi available. If I wanted to join, I'd select that hotspot. Then go to browser page and be redirected to xfinity login.
My Dad has Comcast internet (slow $19.95/month) and I am able to logon to any xfinity signal I can find. We personally have AT&T at our house, but I configured the SSID/logon to be the same with Comcast and AT&T, so pretty much everywhere I go, I can access the internet.
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Old 12-03-2014, 12:54 PM   #14
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Here's a somewhat related article about Dropbox, that discusses internet security, and more of the future as "cloud" technology could eventually challenge the monopolies that currently exist. This is far-out stuff and looks to be years away, but the speed of technology is now outpacing the imagination that brings it into being.

Dropbox: Why the 10-Billion-Dollar Company Needs the Blockchain

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In fact, startup companies in the crypto space, such as Storj, are implementing blockchain technology to store data in a decentralized way without any servers. Storj is based on blockchain technology and p2p protocols that offer users greater security, greater privacy, and encrypted cloud storage. What’s more is that this service not only promises to be 10 to 100 times more cost effective compared to traditional cloud storage services (see chart below), but it also gives users the option to share their hard drive space to earn money.

And while certain limitations do exist, which could slow the development of these mesh networks, cryptocurrencies could play a big part in incentivizing participation, as explained in a Bitcoin Magazine article:

“The main drawback is that this requires all users to carry other users’ traffic, which costs computer resources and bandwidth. The best idea for incentivizing participation so far would incorporate cryptocurrency by either rewarding coins to those who route more traffic than they generate, or charge a fee to those who don’t. The beauty of this solution is that it decentralizes the communications industry, which by its nature is prone to monopoly–conglomerates like Comcast, Verizon or Shaw in North America […].”

“Laying cable lines is rather expensive; we would have to unearth concrete and pavement each time someone moved and lines needed to be moved or upgraded. As wireless technology advances, however, the price of powerful WiFi routers will reach a point where they can effectively replace copper wires for the middle class in relatively urban areas.”

“Instead of connecting to a modem installed by your Internet service provider, these routers connect directly to each other, or to long-range routers designed to reach past unpopulated terrain where no users live. Anyone connected to an ISP can act as a gateway, allowing others to reach content left behind in the historical system.”
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Old 12-03-2014, 01:18 PM   #15
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So now, I have signed into Comcast XfinityWiFi, and can use the connection where it is available. Comcast uses "HotSpot" maps, which show the available connections. At this point, all I could find was local businesses, and not private home addresses that I could see.
As was stated in an earlier post, I'll drive around the area with my tablet, and see how many private home connections are available, and if it is easy to sign on. It's simple for me to sign on in my own home. When my kids come, I'll have them sign on using the Comcast sign-on page.
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Old 12-04-2014, 03:45 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
It's just a little bit creepy to realize that the largest internet provider has opened this signal sharing, without a lot of news articles and concern about privacy.
Because there are no substantive privacy issues that are unique to the open hotspot. The users of the open hotspot have as much access to your personal data as your neighbor.

Also, Verizon does this, and although not as substantive in areas I've been in, TWC does as well.

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My son indicated he thought that a hacker might be able to get get through the encryption.
Your son should have warned you that they could get through encryption to tap into your home network without the presence of the open hotspot, as well.

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In addition to opting out as Comcast has allowed, the second best thing to do (don't use WiFi is the best, but not real feasible) is to simply hide your SSID. With this, *most* people won't know your signal is there and then people won't "suck up" your bandwidth.
The SSID for the open hotspot is separate from yours. Hiding your SSID is a good idea, but it is a good idea generally. It has nothing to do with the open hotspot.

Also, usage of the open hotspot doesn't count toward any bandwidth threshold or similar boundaries. It "sucks up" bandwidth in precisely the same way as your neighbor does.
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