Comcast resists call to open home Wi-Fi hotspots, cites potential congestion

(credit: Comcast)

Three US senators today urged Comcast to open all of its Wi-Fi hotspots to children who lack Internet access at home during the pandemic. A letter from Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) says that Comcast recently refused a request to do so because it would cause congestion for subscribers. But the senators argue that “Comcast’s excuse simply does not add up.”

Comcast has been praised by advocates for its pandemic response, which includes two free months of home-Internet service for new low-income subscribers, temporary suspension of its data cap, and making many of its hotspots free to the general public. But while Comcast opened up 1.5 million hotspots located at businesses and other public areas, there’s another category of Comcast Wi-Fi hotspots that still require a Comcast login and subscription. Those are the hotspots that are enabled by default on Xfinity routers used by home-Internet subscribers.

Since 2013, Xfinity gateways have broadcasted a separate network that other Comcast subscribers can log in to with a Comcast username and password. Unless you’ve disabled the functionality, anyone within range of your Comcast router can get Internet access if they have a Comcast subscription or have paid for a temporary Wi-Fi pass.

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