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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

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:05AM (#46405233)

    Not only 2.4 but 5 GHz as well.
    Disgusting waste of spectrum.

    • by borcharc (56372) *

      Same in Minneapolis, for at least the last 8 months.

      • by Killall -9 Bash (622952) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:36AM (#46405399)
        Same in Philadelphia for at least as long. Took multiple calls to tech to get someone on the phone who even knew what the fuck I was talking about. First two phone calls, the techs pretended(?) to not know what I was talking about. So, hang up and try again. Tech support roulette is fun!

        During 3rd call to comcast tech support, I was told this was an "Xfinity wifi"-specific issue, and I'd need to call a separate number.

        So, I called the dedicated Xfinity WiFi tech support number. They started by asking me what location I was trying to connect from. Home? Oh, well then, you need to call the home internet support number. 1-800-COMCAST. Wow. Thanks.

        It wasn't until the 5th phone call that I got someone on the phone who knew what I was talking about, and they transferred me to a higher-tier tech who could turn off the hotspot.
    • Why? What were you going to do with it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by niftymitch (1625721)

      How do they manage bandwidth caps?
      How do they maintain service levels to the paying customer?

      It is true that a docsis 3.0 cable modem can deliver many more bits than
      most (but not all) subscribers pay for. If and only if the service
      base is never infringed on does this pass my muster.

      HOWEVER WiFi bandwidth is not as flexible and that is what
      they are stealing and reselling.

      If I did not own my own WiFi hardware I would be in court ...

      I WANT COMPENSATION.

      It is difficult enough to compete with neighbor WiFi and

      • by Chas (5144) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @04:18AM (#46405991) Homepage Journal

        How do they manage bandwidth caps? They same way they don't bill you for cable TV channel bandwidth. They know what's coming across their network and from where.

        Additionally, Comcast Business customers (at least) are being provided with a separate cablemodem and router/AP for the public wifi.

        My POB's main office just installed a 75/15 link a month or so ago. Once we found out what the equipment was for, we disabled it immediately. We also disabled the wifi on the private router/AP as well, as we already have a heavily secured wireless AP on premises and simply don't trust Comcast enough not to try and circumvent our precautions. And god help them if they do.

        • by ruir (2709173)
          In addition, from DOCSIS 2.0 onwards, the modem can and does reserves bandwidth for specific use. So in theory, the bandwidth of the roaming users do not eat any of your capabilities. The part I would not vouch is for the hardware capabilities of the modem/router provided by default. I disabled ours and put it in bridging mode only.
    • It runs in and channel as the homeowners meeting SSID. At least BT ones in the uk do.

  • So what happens (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRecklessWanderer (929556) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:09AM (#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.
    • by sconeu (64226)

      And in addiiton, what about the fact that they're eating up your bandwidth?

      • by jd2112 (1535857)

        And in addiiton, what about the fact that they're eating up your bandwidth?

        Knowing Comcast, Wi-fi use probably applies to your bandwidth limit as well.

        • Even if it doesn't, they are eating into the limited bandwidth of the wireless radio which you may be using for much hungrier things that don't connect upstream (transfering files between a laptop and a desktop for instance). Wireless devices in general also tend to have stability and reliability issues when you start assinging a bunch of extra virtual interfaces to them. THIS is why I always insist on the ISP router being put in bridge mode and connecting my own router into it.
          • by CastrTroy (595695)
            My ISP gave me a WiFi accessible cable modem. I leave it on for my friends to connect to when they come over. All my equipment connects to another router behind the cable modem.
      • well even with some kind of VLAN is still on the same cable node that lot's of other users are also on. Comcast does NOT have SDV so they don't have as many nodes as other SDV cable systems have.

        Also parts of the City of Chicago system don't have as much QAM space as rest of Chicago land (but in Chicago land comcast does not use that space). Also we don't have BTN alts in HD, CLTV HD, Fox Sports 2 HD, and more. RCN has all them + more Premium HD. Directv and U-Verse have lot's more as well.

    • It sounds like they're put in a separate virtual wlan than you are, and are given a separate IP.
      • Different public IP though? That would make for some interesting routing rules.

        • by timeOday (582209)
          It's no different than your neighbors who are using their own Comcast account right now, doing who knows what.
          • Err it would be like you and your neighbour having separate connections with 1 router.
            Its nothing like your neighbour having the same ISP. That has 2 routers, 2 physical connections back to the ISP, 2 routing tables and 2 public IPs.

        • Meh. IPv6 makes things simple.
        • How so? What is interesting about a router doing...you know, routing? It's trivial from a technical standpoint. Routers do it all the time.

          I'm not condoning it, mind you. I think it's a terrible idea and I'm glad I don't have Comcrap as my ISP.

      • and how will they stop this from eating up router CPU / IO use? also what about apartments where it can be hard to get good WiFi when all channels are being used by a lot of people all in the same small area.

        • by mysidia (191772)

          and how will they stop this from eating up router CPU / IO use?

          It won't, but the spare CPU/IO not required to deliver service to you is comcast's, since they own the router.

      • It sounds like they're put in a separate virtual wlan than you are, and are given a separate IP.

        I'm sure law enforcement officers and a jury would easily understand these concepts and there won't be any people unfairly put on trial for an outsider abusing this feature.

    • You have to be a Comcast subscriber to use the service and presumably your account is associated with whatever activity you do, just as if you'd done it from your home connection.
      • Re:So what happens (Score:5, Interesting)

        by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:30AM (#46405375)

        So the easiest way would be to set up a fake access point with graphics stolen from Comcast's real site and then collect the usernames/passwords from people who are trying to connect to it.

        Then use those to login to other Comcast sites and do whatever evil you want to.

        The best part is that the poor person whom you're framing will have a more difficult time clearing his name because the evil activity happening in his name is happening in his city.

        • So the easiest way would be to set up a fake access point with graphics stolen from Comcast's real site and then collect the usernames/passwords from people who are trying to connect to it.

          Then use those to login to other Comcast sites and do whatever evil you want to.

          The best part is that the poor person whom you're framing will have a more difficult time clearing his name because the evil activity happening in his name is happening in his city.

          Why stop there? Once you have the fake access point you could us sit to gather all kinds of logons, passwords, etc. Or serve up your own ads, randomly drop user connections, etc. It sound sleek an ideal setup for a man in the middle attack with the added bonus if someone calls Comcast they are told it is a real Comcast site and secure.

      • by MSG (12810)

        Why would you presume that? These modems typically have just one IP address, and I would presume that they NAT using the same one for the XFINITY wireless and for the home user. If a third party records a download of child porn or copyrighted material, they don't have access to the internal identity of the machine, they would only have the IP address Lacking clarification, I think the prudent thing to do is assume that the IP address is going to be the subscriber's, and that this could create the appeara

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

          by fgouget (925644) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @12:33PM (#46409203)

          Why would you presume that? These modems typically have just one IP address, and I would presume that they NAT using the same one for the XFINITY wireless and for the home user.

          Maybe because he knows what he's talking about and you don't?

          As mentioned in the article the Xfinity users connect to the Xfinity SSID which is an open Wifi network while your Wifi network has a different SSID and is encrypted. So at the WiFi level the networks are completely separate. People seem to think this multiple Wifi network capability is new. It's not. Every access point of the past 10 years I've known about has supported 4 separate networks all along.

          Then at the IP level, the way these community Wifi hotspots normally work is that when a guest connects to it he gets an address from a separate network range. Think of it as a VPN if that helps you. This ensures the guest's access is restricted to the official login server until he has registered. It also ensures the guest's IP traffic is separate from the user's local WiFi network. It also makes it possible to keep track of the guest's traffic for billing (if there's billing involved), and solves the copyright police issues.

    • I don't see myself ever using it, seems like a terrible idea to me. But I should note that they do require to login to the wifi using your xfinity username and password, so it stands to reason that they have the ability to track your actions online.
    • by _Ludwig (86077)

      Maybe I'm giving them too much credit, but I assume the FBI would be aware of Comcast's wifi sharing initiative. Just like running a coffee shop with free wifi that a customer did something unsavory with; the feds wouldn't come kicking in the door assuming that the shop owner was the culprit. They might knock and ask to see logs, but in this case they would get those from the ISP.

    • Also what's to stop people setting up honeypot networks named "xfinitywifi", letting you right in regardless of login credentials and packet-sniffing everything you do?
      • Even with my very limited knowledge of network stuff I can solve that, though that doesn't mean Comcast solved it.

        If you have it and you want to use another wifi, first login with incorrect credentials. If that gains you access then you can't trust the network.
        Most people wont do that, so there will probably be no protection (assuming the normal ISP incompetence). Comcast should build a special login program for such things. It can solve the problem in 2 ways:
        1. It could first try to contact the server
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Also what's to stop people setting up honeypot networks named "xfinitywifi", letting you right in regardless of login credentials and packet-sniffing everything you do?

        Why bother going that far?

        Just have them provide credentials and always forward to a "invalid password" page. They'll probably try 2-3 times or so and you'll have captured the login information.

        Which you can then turn around and connect to your neighbour's AP and get internet for free.

        Bonus points for using a higher-powered access point and b

    • "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."

      It's happened, and the courts shut it down.

      By now, just about every police dept. in the U.S. knows that an IP address does not identify even a house, much less an individual. An IP address by itself is no longer (and never should have been) considered "probable cause".

      • Too bad the MAFIAA, like debt collectors, don't give a flying fuck who actually did something as long as they have someone they can bully/lie to/scream at until they get paid what they believe they are owed.

        To a MAFIAA lawyer an IP address might as well be a mugshot, fingerprints, DNA, and confession all wrapped into a neal little package. And they will spend as much money as it takes to make the courts agree with them.

        • "To a MAFIAA lawyer an IP address might as well be a mugshot, fingerprints, DNA, and confession all wrapped into a neal little package. And they will spend as much money as it takes to make the courts agree with them."

          Well, that must be an awful lot of money, because they have been losing that battle.

          I don't know of a court case that has gone forward with just an IP address for justification in the last year. It might have happened... but it's happening a lot less. Enough that you don't see it in the news anymore.

    • by ruir (2709173)
      Nah, we also have a similar service here. Any outside usage is linked to your customer login.
  • Think of the anonymity. How can I be accused of accessing or doing anything online if my online access point could have been accessed by anyone? My history is your history.
    • My history is your history

      Except that it isn't...

      Some people have privacy and security concerns, even though Comcast insists the public and private Wi-Fi networks are entirely separate and shielded from each other. Others worry that the public network will affect the private network's performance. Comcast says this isn't so.

      In NL, some ISPs are doing the same. It's even a different public-facing IP address.

      Of course, you can also turn it off. Though turning it off on your modem means you don't get to us

      • Ok, it's not turnkey. But instead of "anonymous browsing" I can access my own modem as a visitor.
        • I can access my own modem as a visitor.

          Which accomplishes nothing, as you'd be logging in as you - unless you're using somebody else's credentials. That seems to be the main weakness, at least in the NL (Ziggo) case; people intercepting login data or the public wifi being easily hacked to grant access to the internet (not to the internal network), etc.

          So, yes, you could certainly access your own modem as John Doe using John Doe's credentials, and they would come knocking on John Doe's door. Best make sur

      • My history is your history

        Except that it isn't...

        Some people have privacy and security concerns, even though Comcast insists the public and private Wi-Fi networks are entirely separate and shielded from each other. Others worry that the public network will affect the private network's performance. Comcast says this isn't so.

        In NL, some ISPs are doing the same. It's even a different public-facing IP address.

        Of course, you can also turn it off. Though turning it off on your modem means you don't get to use it yourself on others' modems.

        Comcast says it's fine and they would never ever ever possibly lie to get people to do what they want.

        Buy this rock I have. It keeps bears away.

        • You don't have to believe them, you have a few other options:

          Try to hack it to get to the internal network. I'm sure there's a big bounty for succeeding (be that by Comcast or on the black market).

          Disable it. You also don't get to use the feature.

          In case you don't trust that disabling it actually disables it, buy a different modem. Don't complain if you get zero support :)

      • "Except that it isn't..."

        SOLUTION: Use your own cable adapter ("modem") and router.

        I've been doing that for years. It's MY network, and I define it as I please. I run a public access point, and it IS just one big IP address.

        It's not all one network, though. I have my private network, which is protected by WPA2, and my router supports a completely separate guest network, which I have open. They can access the internet via the guest network, but nothing else.

        It's all one kind of traffic to my ISP, all over the same IP addres

  • Since I already had routers running dd-wrt (yea..i know I should move to open-wrt/tomato), 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. I prefer to have as much control over my network as possible.

    • 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.

      • Re:Comcast WiFi (Score:4, Insightful)

        by stoploss (2842505) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:57AM (#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.

      • I'm not sure how Comcast does it, but when I had shaw do the exact same thing, I was explicitly warned that they would no longer be able to offer remote support for troubleshooting the modem if I left it in bridge mode (they said the can no longer directly connect to it in bridge mode). When I asked how I would get it *out* of bridge mode if a had to, they said I'd have to hard-reset it (note: they put it IN bridge mode remotely after the install).
        • Re:Comcast WiFi (Score:4, Informative)

          by mysidia (191772) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @03:53AM (#46405901)

          I was explicitly warned that they would no longer be able to offer remote support for troubleshooting the modem if I left it in bridge mode

          Correct. I work for an ISP on the engineering side. For the very reason that modems in bridge mode cannot be remotely monitored via IP SNMP, or accessed via Telnet etc -- our policy is route always; no modems in bridge mode. No exceptions. I'm surprised Comcast even allowed that.

          If a customer has their own router, then additional IP addresses can be routed to the modem and then on to their router --- otherwise, the modem will be their NAT boundary.

          No customers are provided the username/password access: all config changes by support.

          If monitoring finds a modem to be tampered with or no longer responsive -- most likely service will be temporarily turned off, until support clears it after the customer pays for a truck roll (in the case someone did something dumb such as insert a pin in the reset slot of our modem).

          In bridge mode, the DSL/Cable modem no longer has an IP address. The only way to regain control over it is to be connected with a laptop on the LAN side of the device and know the 192.168.bla.blah address of the modem, or do a hard reset.

          • Wow, mind letting us know which ISP you work for so I never accidentally sign up with them?
            • by mysidia (191772)

              All I can say is that this client is a large incumbent provider -- that you would probably be likely to sign up with if you moved into one of their service areas, and I am quite sure the policy of not using bridging mode on modems is fairly standard in the industry, it is not as if that is unusual.

    • Given what Comcast charges on a monthly basis for their routers, I don't understand why anyone uses one of theirs. You can buy a DOCSIS 3 cable modem for 60 or 70 bucks.

  • BT in the UK do this (Score:5, Informative)

    by Harlequin80 (1671040) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:14AM (#46405265)

    I was in the UK last year and you can pick up loads of BT open wifi hotspots you can connect to. These then piggy back on a home consumers network connection.

    I'm very suss on this as I would have thought contention alone would be a hell of an issue but I assume it is rate limited in some way. I had a play for a couple of minutes trying to compromise my sister-in-laws setup and couldn't manage it but I am far from skilled in that area.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I'm very suss on this as I would have thought contention alone would be a hell of an issue but I assume it is rate limited in some way.

      Bingo. Pretty much nobody gives you as many bits as they can push through the wire, on cable anyway. The additional power consumption is negligible, and the user won't lose any bandwidth since they're limited anyway.

      • The other issue I though of afterwards is to do with NAT table overflows. I have manage to crash every consumer grade router I have used if I run loads of torrents over it. Would be kinda annoying if you router would lockup due to other peoples torrenting.

        Though it would probably be a small usage case.

  • by wiredlogic (135348) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:15AM (#46405273)

    That, folks, is why you never use an ISP provided router. Of course at some point you'll be forced to "upgrade" to a modem with integrated wifi.

    • by gman003 (1693318)

      My ISP-issued modem has built-in WiFi. They want to charge me $10/month to use it (they locked out admin access, obviously - first thing I tried).

      Since I literally cannot get a different ISP without moving, I just dug out an old wireless router from my box of miscellaneous computer stuff and set up my own network. Based on broadcast SSIDs, either they let users pick their WLAN name, or literally everyone in the building did the same thing I did.

      The ISP's name is "Telcom", not that it does much good. Last I

      • by ruir (2709173)
        You are way better with your own wifi router. The hardware of the operator normally has limited capabilities and their DNS proxying/NAT slows down your Internet experience, and besides if you use your wifi to stream movies for the TV, the operator router wont take it and freeze once in a while. In the plus side you are also more in control of your network, specially if you know a little of what you are doing. Is is Telcom, or are you talking about the infamous Telkom in SA?
    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Sorry to let you know that the end user can easily switch off the functionality.

      The only bad thing here is that the ISP is doing it secretly.

    • by mcrbids (148650)

      I fail to understand why this is in any form, a problem?

      I'm currently using Comcast Basic Internet for $65/mo. For this I get 25 Mbit speeds. If I paid $100/mo, I could get 100 Mbit speeds. If I did so, there would be no change to my equipment - they'd twiddle a bit someplace and I would suddenly get more speed.

      So what this means is that there's at least 75 Mbits of available bandwidth that's not being utilized. Since I'm not using it, why not make it available to a paying neighbor?

      From what I've seen about

      • by swb (14022)

        The problem is that Comcast doesn't have the uplink bandwidth past the neighborhood aggregation point.

        I know a lot of people who have bought Comcast's higher speed packages and only ever get a fraction of it, especially during peak usage.

        I had a client with multiple buildings that each had Comcast business internet. With good firewall hardware (using hardware assist crypto) at both ends we could not get a VPN to deliver anything more than a 1/4 of the paid bandwidth tier. Both endpoints were located on d

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      That, folks, is why you never use an ISP provided router. Of course at some point you'll be forced to "upgrade" to a modem with integrated wifi.

      I can just build a nice little Faraday cage for it to live in.

  • by LookIntoTheFuture (3480731) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:17AM (#46405281)
    External WIFI router and a Faraday cage. Just when you thought Comcast couldn't be more evil. Bam! F-you Comcast.
  • So long as this access point is separate from and invisible to my Internet access, I wouldn't mind. However since they are getting the use of my property and electricity, I would at least like reciprocity in the form of using these wherever else they occur, particularly from a smartphone (thus avoiding the need for a generous data plan). Comcast should also let the property owner decide whether this new access point runs in the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band, so as to avoid any slowdown of my own access point.
    • by mcl630 (1839996)

      If you are a Comcast Internet customer, you can already use Xfinity WiFi where it's available, even if you aren't providing this service to them.

  • So now just make a fake Xfinity access point and harvest credentials of passing visitors. Then use those credentials across the country to pin your unsavory traffic on someone else. Free bandwidth for life!
  • So my cousin got Comcast internet at the business he owns. To do that Comcast wireless stuff they basically brought some piece of hardware that was separate from the cable modem and router for his business and stuck it in a closet near where the cable wire first came in the building. I'm guessing for homes they're going to do the same thing, have that extra box in your house somewhere but your cable connection wouldn't use it. (Admittedly the thing does use some of my cousin's electricity to run so it's not
  • ... it does. Comcast is pure evil.

  • And get a 3rd party router.
    • by ruir (2709173)
      I second this. I put the crappy cable modem in bridge mode, disable the wifi, and put a Time Capsule dealing with the traffic/wifi.
  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @02:01AM (#46405531)

    Wow now Comcast should make them rent free if they want to do this.

    Also Knowing how some times they can't even get cable tv right I don't really trust them to make so others can't hack in or lets say overload the box with users.

  • by Blinkin1200 (917437) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @02:07AM (#46405545)
    Sorry to repost - orig post was as AC... maybe someone will actually see this one. This is NOT an open Wifi network. You must sign in with a Comcast / Xfinity User ID in order to use the network, AND you are signing into SSID 'xfinitywifi', NOT your local, private, SSID 'Ithinktheskyisfalling'. I saw it pop up on my router last year and do not have a problem with it. Any activity on the xfinitywifi SSID in going to be associated with a specific user, probably not me. Looking at the current networks in my area, I see xfnintywifi on channels 3 and 6, also another 'un-named' network, on one or more channels, that is probably emanating from the same device or another close by, judging from the MAC addresses and signal strength. I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, wifi only, that I use as my mobile device and connect to the XfinityWifi network, using an ID on my account, at multiple locations. I am glad they set it up and give me access to it. No, I do not have a smart phone. BTW - there are other networks, Optimum and TWC, that can also be used with your Comcast User ID. What was it that Yoda said? - 'The ignorance is strong with some of these...' or something like that.
    • by Todd Knarr (15451)

      And what exactly is stopping a bad guy from setting their network's SSID to 'xfinitywifi' and hijacking traffic? That's one reason I don't trust public hotspots in general, it's too easy for someone else to impersonate them and while I can and do protect my computer against attack from malware I can't protect my network traffic from the access point I'm connected to.

      As far as "logging in" with their user ID, I doubt Comcast has set up the infrastructure to do 802.1x authentication and most clients aren't co

    • by epyT-R (613989)

      it does congest the band though.. if everyone in the area has comcast (likely for a given area), now we have 2x as many accesspoints to contend with.

  • Yes there are ways around this for tech savvy users. That's not the point. The point is Comcast pulling something like this at all - and the way they have gone about it - all say "we can't be trusted with the power we already have". What's to stop them from mandating customers use their equipment? Especially if they are the only show in town.

    I hope this provides further fuel for efforts to stop Comcast's merger with Time Warner.
  • by ruir (2709173) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @03:05AM (#46405729)
    We have here a similar service with a former incumbent operator, which wonders of wonders has almost a virtual monopoly of cables services. The service itself is very useful and allow us to roam in most of locations without paying anything extra. Apparently it is a roaming authentication setup where you can authenticate in the modem of another customer, in a different VLAN/network and at limited speeds. (whilst at home you have 100 Mbps, roaming speeds appear to be on the range 5 to 2 Mbps). There are no dangers of someone knocking in the door of the other because of hacking/porn/whatever, all remote usage is linked to your account due to you logging with your id/password. The downside of this setup is that the 2.4GHz band is overcrowded, with most of the neighbours taking 2 (B)SSIDs. Often this situation compromises the quality of the service itself, both for the proper customer, and to the roaming service is equipment is providing. The situation has gotten so bad, I know of people installing repeaters at home, and I myself had to migrate to a new router in the 5GHz band to be able to work properly. I also disable the operator equipment and it works only in bridging mode, as the CPU capabilities are weak, and I don not trust the security if brings to my own network. There are also some persons who piggyback on the credentials and the family/friends, and use this service permanently with a (very) reduced Internet capacity. (As a side note, in both of my 2 houses in two different cities I can count as much as 40 BSSIDs when walking around the house)
    • by ruir (2709173)
      I also forget to add that when you do have the roaming SSID (FON) open, it is not that unusual to have 2 or 3 "roaming" users connecting to you. Many people lend their passwords to friends or family for them not to buy Internet.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      There are no dangers of someone knocking in the door of the other because of hacking/porn/whatever, all remote usage is linked to your account due to you logging with your id/password.

      That isn't how the copyright police work. They get an IP address and force Comcast to hand over the subscriber details associated with it. Hopefully Comcast will be competent enough to tell them that someone else was logged in to your connection at the time, but maybe not. In any case you will still get a letter demanding money for alleged copyright infringement, and will have to respond and deal with it.

      It gets worse if the accusation is terrorism or child porn related. In that case the cops will probably

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is nothing new. BT in the UK have been doing it for a while and it all originated (I think) with the Fon project. Which may have started in Spain, (though I'm happy to be corrected).

    The bandwidth available to the public network is limited and it collapses to zero if you're using your own network flat out.
    Also it doesn't get included in your traffic cap.
    So the obvious worries are unfounded.

    Whether you trust them technologically to get it right and keep it separate is a different matter. And yes, any

    • by ruir (2709173)
      In Portugal ZON also offers FON. Pity is that as far I am aware, you can roam in other countries, but I may be wrong. The whole thing is very interesting but connections a bit flaky, as you can routinely jump from one "hotspot" ZON to another. At home, since I disabled FON in our home router, things have improved, and since I disabled our own FON ssid, the stability was better until I disabled everything all together and installed a 5GHz wireless router. I also had routinely crashes of the modem/wifi router
  • by j-beda (85386) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @04:27AM (#46406007) Homepage

    Lots of people do this all over the world.

    The last time I was in Paris for an extended stay, back in 2009, at least one of the major ISPs was doing this on all their customer routers. The world did not seem to come to an end (or at least I haven't noticed it - maybe I'm oblivious). I can't recall if it was SRF, Numericable or Orange or "free" or one of the other big telecom companies, but they certainly had a lot of hotspots. They might have started working with FON to get an international system going I seem to recall.

    https://corp.fon.com/en [fon.com]

    The "public" wifi did not eat into the subscriber's bandwidth or whatever data caps they had. I don't know how (or if) they addressed the potential for honeypots stealing credentials.

    • by ruir (2709173)
      They must have had addressed it, because the roaming authentication app asked me to install an iOS profile in my iPhone, and if I am not mistaken, a certificate was installed with it. Will have to check the profile better.
  • by zazzel (98233) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @05:21AM (#46406189)

    Same principle here in Germany.

    But Deutsche Telekom is not doing this as an opt-out thing, but as opt-in - plus you need a certain router model. I bought the (inexpensive) router and opted in, because now I can use all of these home router hotspots, plus all FON hotspots worldwide, all Telekom hotspots (in public places, at McDonald's, in high speed trains). The public hotspot users get very low QoS, so they don't harm my VDSL connection.

    And the best thing: All I have to do to keep using it is connect the home router at least once every 30 days. So since the router is not my primary choice, 99% of time I'm freeloading and using my custom router, all the while keeping my hotspot privileges.

  • Was the threat of lawsuits from what people did on your connection enough to abandon the thought of everyone being cool to each other?
  • by wiredog (43288) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @07:41AM (#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.

  • by charles05663 (675485) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @08:59AM (#46407043) Homepage
    I have a client (a business) in Montpelier, Vermont who had their residential cable service upgrade to "business" class. I was there while they did the work. While they were still there I checked out their work and found the extra cable modem and WiFi router and asked them about it (this was two additional devices off of a splitter). They informed me that it was part of the Xfinity service to provide a public hotspot. I said great, what is the login credentials so visitors to the office can use it. I was informed that since they were a business they (the client) was not permitted to use it and it was only for other Comcast users. I then proceeded to closet where everything was and unplugged the modem and hotspot and only left the business class modem they left. You could tell that they were pissed but could do nothing about it.

    What pissed me off is that the client is paying for the electricity and hosting the device for Comcast and not allowed to use it. To top it all off, the stuck a sticker on the clients front window advertising the hotspot with out asking (this is a law office). Needless to say, I ripped that sticker off the minute I saw it.

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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