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Networking Wireless Networking

Comcast Turning Chicago Homes Into Xfinity Hotspots 253

Posted by Soulskill
from the airwave-rights-are-the-new-mineral-rights-for-homeowners dept.
BUL2294 writes "The Chicago Tribune is reporting that, over the next few months in Chicago, Comcast is turning on a feature that turns customer networks into public Wi-Fi hotspots. After a firmware upgrade is installed, 'visitors will use their own Xfinity credentials to sign on, and will not need the homeowner's permission or password to tap into their Wi-Fi signal. The homegrown network will also be available to non-subscribers free for several hours each month, or on a pay-per-use basis. Any outside usage should not affect the speed or security of the home subscriber's private network. [...] Home internet subscribers will automatically participate in the network's growing infrastructure, although a small number have chosen to opt out in other test markets.' The article specifically mentions that this capability is opt-out, so Comcast is relying on home users' property, electricity, and lack of tech-savvy to increase their network footprint." Comcast tried this in the Twin Cities area, and was apparently satisfied with the results, though subscribers are starting to notice.
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Comcast Turning Chicago Homes Into Xfinity Hotspots

Comments Filter:
  • So what happens (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRecklessWanderer (929556) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @12:09AM (#46405241) Journal
    So what happens when people start connecting to your router and doing unsavory things. A couple I can think of, human trafficking or child porn, or less evil but still evil trying to get on the other side of your router. What about downloading Torrents? I mean we don't really know how good that firmware is do we? What if the FBI come knocking on your door one day saying, We noticed that someone at this address is doing some bad things. Come with us please.
  • Re:Comcast WiFi (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stoploss (2842505) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @12:57AM (#46405515)

    the first thing I did when I got Comcast was have them disable the wifi on there router and set it up so it runs as a bridge instead.

    But... if it is their router, it is their network. Thus they can turn it back on at their pleasure.

    I'm sure their WiFi-unilaterally-reenabled router will be encountering lots of WiFi traffic once it is wrapped in aluminum foil (or any other basic Faraday cage/signal attenuation approach).

    It may be their router and their network, but it sure as hell isn't their site.

  • by rhook (943951) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @02:36AM (#46405845)

    This is why I use all my own equipment.

  • by wiredog (43288) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @06:41AM (#46406661) Journal

    How hard is it to set up a router with the network ssid "xfnintywifi " and gather up all the username/password combinations that people use to log on? Not hard at all.

  • Re:So what happens (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @08:58AM (#46407397) Journal

    You sound rich. Are you also trying to stop fracking because the water tower they want to put up looks ugly?

    You're complaining that people may want to use Wifi, and this is a problem because you want to use Wifi, and we should exclude everyone else from using Wifi anywhere near you because it makes it harder for you to use Wifi.

  • Re:So what happens (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@wo[ ]net ['rf.' in gap]> on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @11:30AM (#46409177)

    I see stuff online that says normally an SSID is broadcast every 10mS or 100mS (10mS seems low to me). 10 packets per second isn't really a lot, although maybe once every 1 second would be less stupid. I mean when you open a directory in a file browser, it can populate with files for 2-3 seconds if it's large--your photos directory maybe. Why do we need advertisement 10 times per second?

    Aside from that, idle access points--even at 100mS between SSID advertisements--don't seem like they'd degrade network too much. In-use access points will, but then we're back to not letting other people use Wifi because you want to use WIfi.

    Here's something people don't realize about WiFi - besides the network backbone the access point connects to, WiFi devices on the same frequency communicate with each other too.

    If you and your neighbour use the same WiFI channel or close to it, the two APs are actually handshaking between themselves at the management frame level (Layer 2), even though they're not actually on the same network, same SSID, or whatever. They're coordinating between themselves on usage.

    And beacons are more than a "WiFi here!" broadcast, they're also used to help mobile stations save power by keeping the radio off longer. Inside the beacon is a bitmap that's indexed by association ID and tells if the AP has buffered packets for it. So a mobile station can on association tell an AP that it wants to check for traffic every 5 beacon times. The AP can either agree, refuse (perhaps there's no more packet memory) or negotiate a different interval. Then the mobile station goes to sleep if there's no traffic, and wakes up the receiver every 5 beacon periods to catch a beacon frame. If there's no traffic for it, it goes back to sleep for another 5 beacon times. If there is traffic, then it wakes up the transmitter and retrieves the packets from the AP buffers.

    All that is contingent on the AP having enough buffer to store the packets (it knows it has to store it for at most 5 beacon periods - after that, it's free to drop them)

    The other side effect is well, attempts to modernize the lowlevel management protocol have to take legacy devices into account. Even worse, all it needs is a legacy device on the same frequency. It doesn't matter that you have no 802.11b devices on your network, just having one on another network, same frequency will automatically disable any optimizations (because if they can't be decoded by the 802.11b station, there's a chance of a collision or interference).

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen