Comcast wants to turn your Wi-Fi router into a public hotspot

Some time on Tuesday afternoon, about 50,000 Comcast Internet customers in Houston will become part of a massive public Wi-Fi hotspot network, a number that will swell to 150,000 by the end of June. Comcast will begin activating a feature in its Arris Touchstone Telephony Wireless Gateway Modems that sets up a public Wi-Fi hotspot alongside a residential Internet customer’s private home network. Other Comcast customers will be able to log in to the hotspots for free using a computer, smartphone or other mobile device. And once they log into one, they’ll be automatically logged in to others when their devices “see” them.

In the coming weeks, Comcast is rolling out a new feature that turns residential customers’ new Xfinity Wi-Fi routers into public hotspots. The rollout starts in Houston on Tuesday, and the company says it’ll be in millions of homes across the country by the end of the year. That’s a big hotspot! It’s easy to have mixed feelings about this idea. On the one hand, it’s wildly convenient. What Comcast is essentially doing is creating the country’s largest public Wi-Fi network by simply enabling people to share their connections. Of course, it’s not entirely public. You have to be an Xfinity customer to be able to log on to the new super hotspot, but as long as you pay your bill, there’s a decent chance you’ll never have worry about Wi-Fi again. Then there are the inevitable caveats. The first thing that comes to mind is performance-related. Specifically, if a bunch of strangers are tapping into your home connection, won’t that slow down you Game of Thrones downloads? Comcast says it won’t. 

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