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Comcast May Put Wi-Fi Transceivers On Cars, Buses, Humans 85

Posted by timothy
from the put-an-ssid-on-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Comcast engineers want to put WiFi transceivers in rental cars, taxis, buses and even on humans to extend reach of its Xfinity WiFi network. They also detail an idea for offering incentives to drivers to move WiFi-enabled cars to areas where it needs WiFi coverage. The plan was detailed in a patent application published today by the USPTO (I wrote a story about it for FierceCable)." Speaking of extension, this sounds like a logical outgrowth of using wireless routers to grow the network. (I hope they choose their humans carefully, if this plan bears fruit.)
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Comcast May Put Wi-Fi Transceivers On Cars, Buses, Humans

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  • rule #1 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @04:28PM (#44321445)
    Rule #1 of wireless networking. Don't attach your access point to something that moves or it really throws off your coverage mapping and disconnects people. How about their improve their crappy infrastructure so they can offer better bandwidth instead of wasting their money on yet another "netowork the homeless" caliber idea.
    • by tepples (727027)

      [A moving AP] throws off your coverage mapping and disconnects people

      If anything, Wi-Fi on buses appears intended to serve Xfinity Internet subscribers who commute to and from work on a bus. The passengers and access point are moving, all right, but their velocities differ by no more than 3 mph. Are you saying it disconnects the passengers or the bystanders?

      • by icebike (68054)

        [A moving AP] throws off your coverage mapping and disconnects people

        If anything, Wi-Fi on buses appears intended to serve Xfinity Internet subscribers who commute to and from work on a bus. The passengers and access point are moving, all right, but their velocities differ by no more than 3 mph. Are you saying it disconnects the passengers or the bystanders?

        Because of the way this Comcast wifi proposal works, YES, it disconnects people sitting in restaurants, or park benches or those changing buses as each bus runs by.

        Remember this is part of a bigger proposal, that if you allow your Comcast connection to be used by others, you in turn will get to use any Comcast access point. Which means your phone, tablet, etc will log on automatically to the best signal. The disruption this could cause if you work near a busy bus line as buses run by your window every 5 m

        • by ethanms (319039)

          AT&T hot spots exist on Boston's commuter rail trains... AT&T also has hot spots in cafes which are at the train stations... The routers are inside the train vehicle and the signal is generally not that strong outside of it. I would guess a bus will be similar. I think the likelihood of a bus driving by you kicking you off your existing connection is pretty low. Or at least, that's been my experience using AT&T hot spots while trains pull up, passengers exchange happens, and they pull away...

          • by scubamage (727538)
            The chance of the SnR being good enough to get your wireless card to jump is really REALLY low if you are stationary and the access point is moving.
        • The disruption this could cause if you work near a busy bus line as buses run by your window every 5 minutes would be a mess.

          Where do you live that gets bus service every 5 minutes? Where I live it's once an hour, never at night, never on Sunday.

          • by icebike (68054)

            Try any random street corner in downtown of a big city or the bus stop at any mall.

            But by your farm? Not so much.

            • by tepples (727027)
              Does a city of 200,000 [fwcitilink.com] look like a farm to you?
              • by icebike (68054)

                Tell you what,...

                You go down town to central station and count how may buses go past in any 10 minute period.
                The way I read your time tables you have at least 8 buses inbound and outbound in any 10 minute period just about all day long.

                • Central Station serves 17 routes, each about 50 minutes long. Most buses alternate between two routes, such as 8 North and 8 South. Most route pairs have two buses on them and depart from Central Station every 60 minutes at :15 after the hour; a few have four buses and depart every 30 at :15 and :45 after on Monday through Friday. This includes a pause to allow passengers to transfer and buses that are running slow (train crossings, traffic, wheelchair pickups and dropoffs) to catch up.
        • Remember this is part of a bigger proposal, that if you allow your Comcast connection to be used by others, you in turn will get to use any Comcast access point.

          Not quite. I had a chance to see the internal Comcast documentation on this once. You won't have a choice, if you have one of their wireless gateways, it will eventually be turned on for you and you can't turn it off. However, the XFinity wifi network is completely separate from your network, so unless someone finds a flaw in the firmware it should be secure. And, your network gets higher priority, and any data usage by a wifi customer doesn't count against the download speed you pay for (if you pay for 3

          • by scubamage (727538)
            It's not even possible if there's a bug in the firmware by any stretch I can think of - they are two physically separate WiFi radios in the CPE. Each has its own chipset. Each AP gets its own IP, its own DSCP markings, its own class of service, etc. So far as the network is concerned, they are two entirely different boxes. They just happen to be collocated in the same device. I used to work right next to the guys who were in charge of the xfinity wifi project, and they walked me through it (now this was a y
          • by pnutjam (523990)
            (if you pay for 30mb down you can get the full 30mb down, for the first 10 second burst, while another customer uses the wifi,.)
            FTFY
        • by scubamage (727538)
          I want to clear up what you're saying a little bit - specifically the "bigger proposal". All xfinity customers are able to access Comcast's wifi network, whether or not you opt in to the dual radio WiFi router or not. Also, this is a patent application, that doesn't mean it will become reality. Further, I work with the group that is behind this - they're not as dumb as you'd like to think they are. We have engineers sitting on nearly every standards board in existance, from SIPForum to the IETF to the IEEE.
    • High speed trains offer WiFi access in Germany. I assume it works, but I never use it. I use a flat rate 3G for 20€ a month, and am fine with that.

      Of course, our friendly neighborhood NSA and DHS might find some uses for it At the customs check:

      "Good new, sir, we won't be taking your photograph and thumbprint! However, as a foreigner, you will be required to carry this WiFi transceiver at all times. Enjoy your stay! We'll be interested in seeing where you choose to visit."

  • 3G and 4G can run down the car battery even more so if packed and discounted car rental rate, free parking make not cover the cost of the new battery (yes car rental places like to rip people off with there damage games) so they may try to bill you the cost of new battery even if they don't put a new one in.

    • by ethanms (319039)

      WTF are you talking about?

      Why would a rental car company charge you, the renter, for a dead battery in their vehicle as a result of equipment they allowed to be installed? Further, I seriously doubt a dead battery in a rental car would be considered "damage", I've needed a jump in a rental before, they usually apologize profusely and send a tow truck to get you going again.

      • WTF are you talking about?

        Check out the guy's other posts -- they're all like that for some reason. I've been wondering what the deal is for a while now, especially since it's rare that anyone seems to notice anything awry.

  • by firex726 (1188453) <firex726@yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> on Thursday July 18, 2013 @04:30PM (#44321465)

    So wouldn't this be a moving mesh network?
    I assume there would be issues if you're connected to a taxi that then moved out of range.

    • by icebike (68054)

      So wouldn't this be a moving mesh network?
      I assume there would be issues if you're connected to a taxi that then moved out of range.

      Yes, the story clearly states is is a Mesh Network structure.
      It seems to me they would be counting on the moving portions to be able to contact residential base stations and or custom towers for their feed, and to re-transmit a wifi signal.

      This is going to be disruptive to residential users in a big way.
      Most modern WIFI Access Points select the best signal channel to avoid congestion. With buses and parked rentals showing up all the time this congestion avoidance is going to be working overtime. (Each chan

  • except for of course if their patent says Xfinity.
    but didn't sxsw pay some hobos a year(or two?) ago to already do essentially this.

    how moving ap's to where they are needed is worth is a patent is somewhat difficult to explain, so if anyone can solve explain that they should patent the explanation.

  • I'm surrounded by technology day in and day out. I have a smartphone and tablet, and I'm currently sitting in a room with four servers, two desktops, and three laptops around me (most of the non-server systems are prepping for redeployment). When I get away from the office, I want less digital contact with anything at all, not more. Add this into the excessive tracking of any and all digital footprint, and I'm constantly contemplating shutting off my phone any time I'm not specifically using it.

    Sure, the

  • Just a moment while I bend over...

    • by Tablizer (95088) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @04:57PM (#44321731) Homepage Journal

      Reminds me of an old joke:

      Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Jerry Sanders (CEOs of MicroSoft, Intel, and AMD) were in a high-powered business meeting. During the serious, tense discussion, a beeping noise suddenly is emitted from where Bill is sitting. Bill says, "Oh, that's my beeper. Gentlemen, excuse me, I need to take this call." So Bill lifts his wristwatch to his ear and begins talking into the end of his tie. After completing this call, he notices the others are staring at him. Bill explains, "Oh, this is my new emergency communication system. I have an earpiece built into my watch and a microphone sewn into the end of my tie. That way I can take a call anywhere."

      The others nod and the meeting continues. Five minutes later, the discussion is again interrupted when Andy starts beeping. He states, "Excuse me gentlemen, this must be an important call." So Andy taps his earlobe and begins talking into thin air. When he completes his call, he notices the others staring at him and explains, "I also have an emergency communication system. But my earpiece is actually implanted in my earlobe, and the microphone is actually embedded in this fake tooth." The others nod in approval, and the meeting continues.

      Five minutes later, the discussion is again interrupted when Jerry emits a thunderous fart. He looks up at the others staring at him in stunned silence, and says, "Quick! somebody get me a piece of paper... I'm receiving a FAX..."

  • by schwit1 (797399) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @04:38PM (#44321551)

    The insurance industry wants real time data from your vehicle on how, where and when you drive. The first step was the plug in device that give them some delayed data. The real goal is a constant wifi connection so your rates can be adjusted upwards for the slightest reason. They will compare your data with the weather, time of day, congestion, were you on the cell phone, etc.

    You didn't come to a complete stop at all those intersections.
    That light was yellow.
    You were too close to the car in front of you
    You were going over the speed limit or too fast for the conditions.

    • "Insurance companies will use them to raise rates (Score:5, Interesting)"

      And then they will share all gathered data with the NSA...while accepting money, your money, in exchange. Shareholders, rejoice.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They can't even get their cable internet running correctly. Five months in and I still don't have two hours of connectivity or reliable DNS.

    Wake me when an internet service provider does this instead.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    When comcast installs these points, their transceivers tend to drown out all local wireless routers (3,6,9) or whatever channels they are. I was talking to a friend in philly who can't get a good connection anymore to his own router because Comcast did this.

    While expanding coverage is "good" doing it in a way that gives you a monopoly over the airwaves so that people *have* to use you is not.

    • by scubamage (727538)
      Your friend is most likely right next to the antenna, and that sucks. Comcast has the FCC license to broadcast at a way higher power than what is alotted for a home device. He should be able to use any wifi tool panel and see what channel it is on, and pick another for his home device. The WAP's only broadcast on a single channel, so far as I know. That gives your friend a lot of options.
  • I am a Comcast business class data customer. I do not use Comcast home services. Other than lousy DSL, they are the only game in town. Recently, xfinity wifi AP's popping up around town. Guess what, I pay more for business class data but my account is not eligible for their wifi.

    Fuck Comcast. Unfortunately I am on a 3 year contract, so even if I move I have to stick with them.

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @09:59PM (#44323983) Journal
    I have worked on a similar concept for police back in the 90's and can prove it.
  • They replaced my modem with a combo Modem/Router.... It's a POS. now I have to let strangers use my internet? I THINK NOT! I want to use my 59mbps to download porn by myself!

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