Has your Comcast router turned into a public Wi-Fi hotspot?

Credit: KING

Has your Comcast router turned into a public Wi-Fi hotspot?

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by KING 5 and KGW.com Staff

kgw.com

Posted on June 13, 2014 at 9:11 AM

Updated Saturday, Jun 14 at 3:12 AM

Adrian Young is upset with how his internet provider is behaving.

“I just feel Comcast should be communicating better with their customers,” said Young.

This started when Young noticed a new Wi-Fi network popping up on his home computer.

“Suddenly there's this service that says XFINITY Wi-Fi.  I'm thinking, well what is that?  It's got exactly the same signal strength as my router.  The first thing I do is I look out the window because I’m thinking maybe Comcast has put a hotspot on the power pole outside,” explained Young.

Instead it was coming from the Comcast router inside his hall closet.

“I'm paying for this and without any knowledge, they're offering my wireless internet connection to anybody who drives past my house,” said Young.

Comcast is rolling out a new service that will send a second signal from some home Wi-Fi networks.  It gives Comcast customers free internet access. Others can pay a few bucks to log in. 

Comcast officials say the service is a benefit for customers, who can share their Wi-Fi with friends without sharing their private passwords. 

"Home hotspots have been well received; less than one percent have disabled the feature," said Comcast spokeswoman Theressa Dulaney. "Customers like the feature because you don't have to share your password with a babysitter or house guest, because they are connecting to a completely separate Wi-Fi network." 

Young's problem is, he says he was never given a chance to turn the service down.

“This is actually an opt-out, not an opt-in. So they'll actually send this command to your router to enable this public Wi-Fi hotspot in your house and hope you don't object to it," he said.

Comcast officials said Friday they did notify customers of the hotspots 15 days before the service was available with a letter, and that customers can opt out by calling 1-800-Xfinity. 

The other concern from computer experts is that the extra people connected to the network may slow down your internet speeds. 

Comcast says that’s not the case.

“It does not impact your data, it does not impact your network in any way,” said Steve Kipp  of Comcast.

Kipp said the program is meant to give customers more access to Wi-Fi in a way that is secure and separate from your home network.

“It does not impact your network in any way.  If they're using it in some way that's illegal, let's say, let's say the worst case scenario it's an illegal scenario - that is impacting them.  It's traceable back to them using their IP address,” explained Kipp.

Kipp said the service will be available across the region in the next couple of months.   How will you know if you're part of it?   It's only for customers with the Comcast router called Arris Wireless Gateway, models TG862G  and TG852G.  If you don't want to participate - you can opt out through your routers settings.

Click here for more information on Comcast's hotspot service.

Click here for more information on how to opt-out of this new service.

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