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posted by Dopefish on Thursday March 06 2014, @01:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept.

Papas Fritas writes:

"Robert Channick reports at the Chicago Tribune that Comcast is set to turn hundreds of thousands of Chicago-area homes into wi-fi hot spots, using existing Comcast equipment to build out its publicly accessible wireless network.

The neighborhood hot spots initiative, rolling out during the next several months, will send a separate Wi-Fi signal from Comcast-issued home equipment, enabling anyone within range to get online. Soon, entire residential blocks will begin to show as hot spots on Xfinity's Wi-Fi mobile app. Because the Comcast subscriber's signal will be kept separate from the second, publicly available signal, the subscriber's speed and privacy shouldn't be affected. 'They'll look like two separate networks and they'll act like two separate networks,' says Tom Nagel. 'Any use on the public side doesn't impact the private side.' Once the dual-mode modems are activated remotely by Comcast, visitors will use their own Xfinity credentials to sign on, and will not need the homeowner's permission or password to tap into the public Wi-Fi signal.

Non-subscribers will get two free hours a month; beyond that, they can access Xfinity Wi-Fi on a per-use basis. Rates run from $2.95 per hour to $19.95 per week, according to Comcast. Xfinity subscribers can travel from hot spot to hot spot in this case, from home to home without needing to log on again through their mobile device. 'The Utopian ideal of a massive, free Wi-Fi network has been around since the early days of Wi-Fi, but there was never an economically viable path to deliver it,' says Craig Moffett. 'Comcast has a better shot at it than just about anybody else.'"

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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by jt on Thursday March 06 2014, @07:16AM

    by jt (2890) on Thursday March 06 2014, @07:16AM (#11813)

    Over on Airstrip 1, our biggest telecomms provider (BT) runs a similar service with domestic users' routers. A quick wireless network scan shows my neighbours are offering this service, probably without knowing. The payback is meant to be that running this service from your home entitles you to use the BT wifi hotspots around town centres without paying by the hour, and I guess also other domestic users' routers if you happen to be out of town.

    Don't like the idea at all myself. The last mile is the slowest and, even if I rarely saturate my connection, I don't want it slowing down when I am using it.

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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Open4D on Thursday March 06 2014, @06:33PM

    by Open4D (371) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 06 2014, @06:33PM (#12103) Journal

    BT's service is called "Fon", and claims to be a global network now. If you look at their map [] you may notice a significantly higher density of coverage in the UK - although I did find that 1 user in the USA (specifically Kansas) is already doing this.

    Here's an article which points out that most UK users of Fon may not realize that their home Wi-Fi is being used in that way: elps-itself-to-Home-Hubs-for-public-Wi-Fi []

    P.S. Yes, that's the same BT people may remember from its patent abuse (software patents) - 1 [], 2 []

  • (Score: 1) by irick on Friday March 07 2014, @05:28AM

    by irick (3441) on Friday March 07 2014, @05:28AM (#12502)

    It just seems like the big telco/cable guys seem to think that they are big enough to get away with it. I mean, if you look at it from a weird perspective, their size allows them to capitalize on their install base by making a secondary service piggyback on their primary. There is no way that a small ISP is going to be able to match their coverage and free wifi anywhere is a rather nice little perk.

    I hope people get ruffled enough to really resist this, but I kinda doubt they will. Most people don't pay attention to these sort of developments. They usually get snuck into a ToS update that end users just click through.