Customers Pushback Against Comcast''s Wi-Fi Deployments

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Customers Pushback Against Comcast''s Wi-Fi Deployments

Dec 15, 2014 3:36 PM, Doug Irwin, CPBE AMD DRB

SAN FRANCISCO�A year and a half ago I wrote about how Comcast planned to start the deployment of home Wi-Fi routers that had a new feature�an extra network that allowed for public access.

In this article I wrote: �I''m not trying to add insult to injury but evidently at least one large ISP has decided not only to charge you for access to the internet, but to share your access with others. From another article in GigaOM, we learn that Comcast is going to start sharing your broadband connection for you. New Cisco cable modem/wireless access points are being shipped to customers, and they accommodate two wireless networks: one for the people that actually pay for the access, and one for all other Comcast customers.

A recent conference called �Small Cells America'' covered the customer''s-home-based Wi-Fi deployment in a positive fashion, according to �Some of the most significant large-scale deployments of Wi-Fi hot spots in the U.S. have been undertaken by cable operators, and that industry is well represented at Small Cells Americas this year. One of the biggest questions for carriers is whether the cable operators have beaten them (the big carriers) to the punch when it comes to Wi-Fi deployments.�

I want to suggest that perhaps a bigger question is whether or not Comcast''s customers are going to put up with providing public internet access from their homes. From the San Francisco Chronicle, we see that there is pushback from Comcast customers. �Two East Bay residents are suing Comcast for plugging their home''s wireless router into what they call a power-wasting, Internet-clogging, privacy threatening network of public Wi-Fi hotspots.

�The class-action suit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on behalf of Toyer Grear and daughter Joycelyn Harris, claims Comcast is �exploiting them for profit� by using their Pittsburg (California) home''s router as part of a nationwide network of public hotspots.

�Tests showed that under heavy use, the secondary channel adds 30 to 40 percent more costs to a customer''s electricity bill than the modem itself, the suit said.

�The suit also said �the data and information on a Comcast customer''s network is at greater risk� because the hotspot network �allows strangers to connect to the Internet through the same wireless router used by Comcast customers.�

Yes�I know, I know. We live in a very litigious society, and this suit might be tossed right out of court. At the very least, though, I think it''s clear that at least some of Comcast''s customers won''t sit idly by and let Comcast do as they please.