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Cable Technology Feature Article

June 11, 2013

Comcast Turns Xfinity Modems into Neighborhood Wi-Fi Hotspots

By Shawn Hebert, TMCnet Contributing Writer

Comcast (News - Alert) revealed on Monday plans to install more neighborhood Wi-Fi hotspots in its service markets by providing customers an additional signal in their home that is completely separate from their existing Wi-Fi connection. The new signal will be broadcast publicly and will allow Comcast to crowdsource its Xfinity hotspot network.

The service is being dubbed Xfinitywifi, which actually began rolling out earlier this year when it was made available to a limited amount of customers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as part of a testing phase. Since the home and hotspot networks are separate, customers don't have to worry about losing bandwidth to passersby.

Xfinitywifi will be made available to existing Comcast Internet customers free of charge, while non-customers will be limited to only two hours a month of free usage. 

"Our broadband customers will continue to get the service that they are paying for," said Comcast Senior VP of Business Development Tom Nagel. "That was extremely important to us in designing this product."

Since anyone with an existing home wireless network can set up guest access for visitors, Comcast Internet subscribers may wonder what the point of this new service is. The cable giant says the real benefit is when a subscriber is out of their home and happens to be near another Comcast subscriber's wireless gateway. The extension of the Xfinity Wi-Fi network will appear under the label “xfinitywifi” on a customer's portable device, allowing them to sign in and connect using their existing usernames and passwords.

Through a partnership with the CableWiFi Alliance, Comcast has a network of more than 150,000 hotspots in more than a dozen U.S. cities.

The new neighborhood hotspot announcement came from Comcast's opening presentation at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association's annual Cable Show, where Comcast also launched Xfinity Home Control, a new energy management service aimed at those who want services like video monitoring and remote access to lighting and thermostat controls, but do not want home security services.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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