Is Comcast Letting You Pay Its Electric Bill?

Suit says hotspot network pushes "tens of millions of dollars" to customers every month.


We’ve been telling you since last summer about Comcast’s wi-fi hotspot program — how the company is piggybacking off its customers routers to offer a network of free hotspots to other customers who are out and about. (If you’re in Center City, for example, and your computer shows “xfinitywifi” as a wi-fi network option, it’s a good bet that signal is being hosted in this fashion.)

Now the company is being sued over the practice.

Courthouse News Service reports on the federal lawsuit filed against Comcast in San Francisco by plaintiffs Jocelyn Harris and Toyer Grear, which says the company has piggybacked off customers without their permission — but at a cost to them:

In using its customers’ home networks to build a national network, Comcast “has externalized the costs of its national wi-fi network onto its customers,” Grear says in the complaint.

He claims that the new routers use much more electricity than regular routers, and that this is “a cost borne by the unwitting customer.”

Engineers at Speedify, a technology company that increases Internet connection speeds, ran tests on Comcast’s new routers and determined that “Comcast will be pushing tens of millions of dollars per month of the electricity bills needed to run their nationwide public wi-fi network onto consumers,” the complaint states.

Based on the results of this study, Grear claims, Comcast’s residential customers can expect electricity cost increases as great as 30 to 40 percent.

You can see the full complaint below.

Harris and Grear are seeking to have his suit classified as a class-action suit, with plaintiffs comprising potentially the entire class of Xfinity Internet customers.

Of course, you can always choose to disable the hotspot. Comcast tells customers: “We encourage all subscribers to keep this feature enabled as it allows more people to enjoy the benefits of XFINITY WiFi, but you will always have the ability to disable the XFINITY WiFi feature on your Wireless Gateway. Visit My Account at, click on “Users & Preferences” and then select “Manage XFINITY WiFi” or call 1-800-XFINITY.”