Comcast Today: As Hotspot Program Expands, So Do Concerns

Do you want total strangers using your Internet router?

Comcast’s plan to turn your home’s private router into a public hotspot is gaining more attention. And because it’s Comcast, not all of it is positive:

• On paper it looks like a win-win: in the past few days, Comcast is quietly turning on public hotspots in its customers’ routers, essentially turning private homes into public hotspots. Comcast customers get free Wi-Fi wherever there is a Comcast box and the company gets to build out a private network to compete with telecoms. Win-win. But here’s the problem: Comcast is essentially using your private residence as a corporate resource. They’re using your electricity. They’re using your Internet connection (although they claim they aren’t) and they’re opening up your private browsing to potential hackers. While Comcast will claim that these two streams are independent, there is nothing to stop a dedicated hacker from figuring out how to snoop data passing through the router. There is also nothing to stop someone from downloading illicit material, software, and other junk from your hotspot and then reporting you for theft or worse. Again, it’s all ostensibly secure, but, like all things, it really isn’t. (TechCrunch)

• Comcast told Local 2 there are no privacy issues. A Comcast spokesman said the hotspot works as a separate signal, and won’t allow the public to access your private data, information, or home network. As many as five people at a time can use your personal hotspot; and Comcast said your bandwidth and speed will not be affected because the hotspot is considered entirely separate from your device. (Click2Houston)

• Comcast is automatically enrolling all Xfinity customers in the new program. If you’re an Xfinity customer and don’t want your router to become a public Wi-Fi hotspot, you can opt out by calling Xfinity or going to the preferences section on the account page of Comcast’s website. And if you don’t want to be a part of Comcast’s continual creep into a nationwide monopoly on internet service, well, good luck finding another option. (Gizmodo)

Other Comcastic headlines:

• The Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) — which includes Google, Facebook, Aereo and T-Mobile — is wrong to say that the merger will harm competition and consumers, Comcast Vice President of Government Communications Sena Fitzmaurice said in a statement Tuesday. “Every market Comcast operates in is highly competitive, and we compete actively every day against some of CCIA’s members,” she said. CCIA also warned that regulators would set a worrying precedent by allowing this merger to get through due to its size. “The size of this deal is not unprecedented,” Fitzmaurice said in the statement. “In fact, after the deal, Comcast will have the same market share as it had throughout most of the first decade of the 21st Century. (The Hill)

An 88-year-old woman in Florida is on a fixed income, but enjoys watching telenovelas, so she dutifully paid her $29 Comcast cable bill every month. There was one small problem with that, though: Comcast wasn’t providing her with any cable service: She’s been paying for cable service that she didn’t get for more than 13 years. When the ex-customer asked for a refund of her inadvertent donations to Comcast, the company said that they could give her a six-month refund. That’s $174, when they really owe her more than $4,500. Her grandson contacted a local news station, which prompted another investigation of the overpayment. Surprise! This time, Comcast concluded that it had billed her in error for all of those years, and would be providing a full refund. Yay! (Consumerist)

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