Comcast Launches Neighborhood Wi-Fi Hotspots From Customers' Homes

5:22 AM PST 06/10/2013 by Alex Ben Block
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

The nation’s largest broadband provider said the initiative is part of a strategy to allow customers "to connect all devices, anywhere and at any time."

Washington, D.C. – On the first morning of the 2013 National Cable and Telecommunications Association annual convention, the biggest cable operator’s major announcement is about broadband, not programming -- a clear indication of the company and the industry’s priorities these days.

Comcast Cable, with 20 million broadband customers nationwide, is creating millions of Wi-Fi access points for its Xfinity Internet subscribers in markets it serves across the U.S. as part of what it describes as a new “home-based neighborhood hotspot initiative,” the company announced Monday.

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“The newest wireless gateway broadcasts an additional 'xfinitywifi' signal (or SSID) in the customer’s home that is completely separate and distinct from the family’s private and secure home Wi-Fi signal,” according to the announcement.

The idea is to offer a second broadband signal in and around each subscriber’s home for use by visitors (who are already Comcast customers) and others in the area.

"Wi-Fi is at the center of our strategy to offer our customers the best online experience, whether it’s the fastest Wi-Fi experience in the home, or a fast and reliable Wi-Fi environment outside the home," said Tom Nagel, Comcast’s senior vp business development. "Wi-Fi is an important part of our strategy to be the place where customers connect all devices, anywhere and at any time."

Comcast said it started a neighborhood hotspot trial last year in parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, northern Virginia and the Greater Washington, D.C., metro area. more than 10,000 Xfinity Internet subscribers already have Wi-Fi access points being offered by other Xfinity Internet subscribers. 

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“Wi-Fi is part of Comcast’s broader strategy to create the foundation our customers need to power their Internet-connected devices in and out of the home,” the company said in the announcement.

Comcast said its Wi-Fi strategy includes two approaches. The first is tens of thousands of Xfinity Wi-Fi access points in the CableWiFi Alliance, which enables Xfinity Internet customers access to more than 150,000 indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots in a dozen major cities through the "CableWiFi" SSID. The second is the new home-based, neighborhood hotspot initiative.

Comcast said it has increased Internet speeds for its customers 11 times, most recently doubling two of its most popular Xfinity Internet speed plans, Blast! and Extreme 50, for no additional cost.

Comcast said it is also launching Xfinity Home Control, an additional option for its customers who want to do video monitoring and be able to remotely access lighting and thermostat controls, even if they don’t buy security services from the company.

Along with that, Comcast is offering EcoSaver, described as a “cloud-based solution that when paired with an Xfinity Home thermostat, learns heating and cooling patterns of a home and can ultimately save the customer money while maintaining comfort.”

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