On Tuesday, tens of thousands of Comcast customers are having their routers turned into public Wi-Fi hotspots.
The public Wi-Fi program applies only to customers who are already subscribers and are near a hotspot with a certain piece of equipment.
That piece of equipment is a router and modem combo Comcast calls the Xfinity Wireless Gateway.
“And once we flip the switch, it automatically enables these 50,000 wireless gateways to light up,” said Michael Bybee with Comcast.
Flipping the switch allows friends and family to hop on to the nearest network without the host giving out his or her Wi-Fi password.
“So many people are connected to so many devices these days, that your friends and family that come over, if they’re already Xfinity customers, they’ll just be able to pull up whatever device they have, and, automatically, have access to the Wi-Fi network,” Bybee said.
The Wi-Fi hotspots operate on a separate network. That means Wi-Fi users don’t have access to the owner’s network, or to the devices connected to that network. Also, the Wireless Gateway has additional capacity built in. Bybee says the additional capacity is allocated specifically for Xfinity Wi-Fi, which leaves unchanged the speed and thru-put of the broadband connection to the home.
Comcast hopes to have 150,000 Wi-Fi hotspots throughout greater Houston area by the end of the month. Xfinity customers who don’t want to have a Wireless Gateway used as a public Wi-Fi spot will have to ask Comcast to opt out. The program does not apply to the customers who already use their own modems and routers.