Friday, May 29, 2015

Stop Xfinity WiFi

Got Comcast Internet service? Then you're probably providing open Internet service to the public, and unless you've read and understood everything very carefully, you probably don't even know it!

When you rent a wireless gateway* from Comcast (as most customers do), by default Comcast enables another wireless network called xfinitywifi for use by other Comcast and Cable WiFi Alliance customers. This is a really bad idea:
  • Security and privacy are put at risk by opening up service to outsiders in shared equipment. (Claims that outsiders are completely walled off are disingenuous -- there is always a risk.)
  • Internet service is degraded by the additional traffic. The carrier wireless gateway is a cheap low-end device with limited processing capacity (and is a common cause of connectivity problems in general).
  • Wireless networking is degraded by the additional wireless traffic. Wireless bands are already crowded and limited in many areas, and this just makes things worse.
  • It's not good for guest Internet access (as claimed by Comcast) because it won't work if your guests are not Comcast or Cable WiFi Alliance customers. Set up a private guest network on your own wireless router for your guests.
  • Comcast is running its business for free out of your home on equipment you are paying to rent.
It's possible to opt out of this outrageous arrangement (instructions here), but there's no way to be sure you'll stay opted out without continual checking.

The better solution is to never ever rent a carrier wireless gateway. Instead, buy your own:
  1. DOCSIS cable modem (from the approved list, like the excellent Motorola SB6141)
  2. Wireless router (See Choosing a Wireless Router)
* Cable wireless gateway is a combination of DOCSIS cable modem and wireless router.

To be ethical and above board, Comcast should at least provide a free wireless gateway in return for supporting Xfinity WiFi.

More Info

Comcast

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