Today Comcast announced that it will begin using your home wifi to create a public wifi hotspot for those that may just be hanging out in your lawn….
So how is this supposed to work exactly? They plan on tapping into the broadband service that is provided to your home, segmenting it, and broadcasting it as a separate wifi network for other Comcast subscribers. To access that new hotspot, a user will need the Comcast wifi hotspot app and a comcast.net username & password, which is available to existing Comcast customers or as a pay-per-use service.
Comcast also states that they will only provide this service on their “owned” equipment. That means that if your wifi modem/router was provided to you by Comcast it will be used to offer the hotspot service. However, if you have your own modem/router then they will leave your service alone. Now, according to Comcast your bandwidth and speed will not be affected.
Comcast’s goal is to turn the entire Chicago area into a wifi hotspot, helping them reach their goal of 1 million access points nationwide.
From a consumer standpoint I can see how this would be beneficial in an urban environment where there is a higher concentration of Comcast subscribers where more hotspots can be offered. This way you can keep streaming House of Cards as you walk down the street. But let’s consider the suburban sprawl, where the wifi networks may be further apart, or heaven forbid a homeowner has DSL….then what? Will there be spotty service? Will I have to log in every other house? Maybe I’m just overthinking this…
What about security? Comcast commits that subscribers’ in-home networks will remain secure. They haven’t said exactly how the networks will be secure, but I imagine it’s in their best interest. We all remember the Target incident.
This is a strong play for Comcast as it tries to complete the largest merger in communications history, with Time Warner. By building these nationwide public wifi networks they can make their mega-conglomerate content available to more Americans than every other provider, combined. Remember, service providers have figured out that it’s not the service fees that will generate the revenue, it’s the content. Just look at the deal Netflix just made with Comcast, where they paid the Internet provider to get what I call “preferential bandwidth”. To ensure Netflix content stays in the highest possible quality.
I can say that having an Xfinity hotspot is pretty convenient. I’ve had the opportunity to use it on a few occasions and it comes in handy when you’re using an antique 3G device, or your in a spotty cellular coverage area. However, why would I need to jump onto a hotspot if I’m getting blazing LTE from my wireless carrier? Will that YouTube video look that much better on my 5″ Android using the Xfinity hotspot? Maybe it’ll buffer faster, but how much faster? Don’t get me wrong, until wireless carriers and device manufacturers figure out the balance between high speed data and battery life, a wifi hotspot helps out a lot when sitting at your doctor’s office or waiting to get an oil change.
Luckily for me I own my own modem/router, so don’t expect to come sit on lawn and surf…