Originally published at: http://www.howtogeek.com/184727/your-home-router-may-also-be-a-public-hotspot-dont-panic/
More Internet service providers are now providing their customers with modems that function as routers — and those units may also be public hotspots. This sort of feature is common in Europe, but it’s now arriving in North America.
I've got to disagree with calling this "free Wi-Fi". It's not free. It's only available to customers of the ISP. This tactic does nothing to promote the freedom of the Internet, and everything to promote and support a monopolistic business. Let's suppose that they are actually prioritizing traffic on the home network, as opposed to the 'public' network, the contention for the radio spectrum is still going to negatively affect the home network. The additional traffic will also be impacting the upstream hub in your neighborhood (in many cases, that neighborhood hub is already overloaded during peak times). Why would I want to risk slowing my connection, and pay for the electricity to help one of the most hated companies in the United States? The only way that I would consider it, would be if they made it a truly open wi-fi. Use the technology to support freedom and anonymity, not to boost their own monopoly.
I have to disagree with the entire concept, mostly based on the one sentence in your article: if the ISP sets it up right.
As we all know, ISP's aren't exactly bastions of doing things properly, based on them not knowing how to do things properly. I see no reason to believe that this will work as intended, and I don't want random people accessing a public hot spot originating from my address. That's why there are coffee shops and libraries (among other places).
North America is not Europe. Just because something works there, doesn't mean it will here.
I'm not a fan of this idea at all, for several reasons. Comcast might promote this as a value-add for their customers, but I really don't see how it can be.
First, there's the whole "shared spectrum" bit. Comcast was absolutely right to point this out, and really would have been negligent to not do so. What they don't really do though is tell you exactly how shared that spectrum is. While 5 GHz adoption is on the rise, most Wi-Fi these days still operates in the 2.4 GHz range. Of the 14 channels available in the 2.4 GHz range, only 11 are legal to operate on without a license in the U.S.. Within those 11, the most channels you can come up with that don't have any overlap (i.e.: where transmissions on one channel will not at all interfere with transmissions on another) is 3. Normally, this means you can have three people having their own Wi-Fi networks within close proximity to each other without having any toes stepped on. With Comcast's dual Wi-Fi setup though, it would be literally impossible to have two Comcast customers residing next to one another without having some amount of interference because each customer will now be having to use two channels in the 2.4 GHz spectrum - one for their personal Wi-Fi and one for the public Xfinity network.
Then, there's the issue of security, and this comes from two angles. First, there's the security of your home network as a Comcast subscriber who is hosting one of these hotspots. Do you really trust your ISP to set up a system like this properly and securely in one small device? I personally have a hard time trusting them to get the whole cable modem/router/switch/Wi-Fi combination right in the first place, without having to add in a second network. However, also consider the security risk they're putting their customers at when they're not at home. Comcast is telling all of its customers that it's safe to connect to any "xfinitywifi" network and provide their Comcast credentials to it to get online. It sounds to me like they're setting up their customers to be fraud victims more than they are helping them get free Internet access.
All in all, I'd say it's a bad idea for both Comcast and the consumers involved. Fortunately, I'm neither.
this wont bother me as i already dont use their crappy routers. I switch off everythign i can in thier all in one units and run it straight to my pfSense router so i wont ever have to worry about this.
Like @ccurtis, I won't use the cable co's equipment in my house. I own my modem, my router, and my wireless access points. That gives me, not the cable company, control over who gets on my home network.
to be honest, if i had the money and time to look into doing so, i would replace my modem as well, the biggest reason i haven't is i don't think they can all handle a 50 mb connection and i dont have time to do the research on it
I've looked into it before. With regards to savings on your monthly cable bill, it's just not cost-effective. You're probably safe enough just running your own router/firewall behind their equipment, as you're already doing, anyway.
It really depends. My cable company charges roughly $12 a month for a modem, more for a gateway. Since I only spent about $60 for the modem, that's extremely cost effective: the modem paid for itself in 4 months.
But if your provider does not charge you a device rental, then there's no financial point in buying your own equipment - however, I would never run a "gateway" device if I could avoid it. Even if I lock it down, the cable co can still unlock it remotely.
I live in UK and am with the biggest phone/web provider - BT. They give you a free router of coruse - the HomeHub 4 which really isn't bad for a provided router - and also free Wi-Fi anywhere in the world on BT and Openreach hotspots provided you let your HomeHub become part of the BT WiFi network so others can connect to it as an access point. Its not too bad as no one ever connects as I live in a very rural area but I can see a potential scenario where there somebody's Homehub Is located in a popular place with no provided hotspot... potentially, their bandwith could suffer.
Wouldn't that be 5 months?
Let's see... high school algebra and geometry: Check.
College calculus: Check.
Divides 60 by 12 and gets the right answer: FAIL.
Did I detect a slight Hitchhiker's reference in the article?
E.G. "Don't Panic!"
Sure we'll call it that...
My ISP also provides a public hotspot like in this article, it's called the FON network. All subscribers get a free router with this service enabled. The router's setting are locked down to only allowing filling in the ISP information (internet login details) and changing the Wi-Fi settings. Fortunately, I am in a fairly remote location, so the likelihood of someone connecting to my router is almost none.
I expect like me, many "How to"-ers in the UK, who are customers of BT will have immediately eliminated this feature by using their own wi-fi router.
My BT broadband speed is poor at best anyway and there's no way I was going to put up with any chance of it slowing further by freeloaders logging on.
Of course there is the security concerns. All one needs to have is a yet to be discovered bug/backdoor in the firmware of these routers being used by Comcast to be discovered that allows someone from the outside to capture the traffic on the other subnet that is being used by the account holder.
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