Comcast is rolling out an enormous Wi-Fi network for its customers, but not in the way you’d think. The service is not being built from scratch, but instead piggybacks on the routers already installed for Comcast customers. Around 50,000 wireless hotspots were activated in Houston today, with 100,000 more expected, according to The Houston Chronicle.
How is this possible, you ask? The gist is, your home wireless router could be powering your own Wi-Fi network as well as a public one, labeled “xfinitywifi”, on behalf of Comcast. The provider claims that those connecting to the public Wi-Fi network won’t be able to access your personal network, and that customers also won’t see their speeds decrease due to outside connections. But you will be paying the electric bill for the hotspot, since it’s plugged in at your home.
Are Comcast customers obligated to participate? No, thankfully. Comcast did make the shady — yet wise from a numbers standpoint — decision to make the program “opt-out” instead of relying on customers to turn the feature on, or providing any incentive for them to do so. The company states that it sent mailers out about the program already, and will email customers before the hotspots on their routers go live, but many will likely ignore these communication attempts or won’t read them thoroughly. And then Comcast will have one more Wi-Fi hotspot to advertise.
I understand why Comcast made the hotspot program opt-out, but I don’t agree with it and I think the company is setting itself up for a customer revolt. Instead of turning the feature on and hoping that no one notices, Comcast could instead give customers a reason — say, a discount — to want the feature on. A discount based on the amount of time the hotspot is live per month would be great, and would paint the company in a more positive light.
Instead, customers will probably find out about the Wi-Fi hotspots from a source that paints them negatively — say, The Daily Show — and will then turn them off in droves. But we’ll see.
What do you think about the Wi-Fi hotspots that Comcast is offering through customer routers? Drop us a line below.