Comcast turning your home into a public WiFi hotspot

Jeff Ehling Image
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Comcast turns routers into hotspots
Comcast is now turning your in-home router to a public WiFi hotspot, but is it secure?

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Starting today, WiFi access can be found all across the city of Houston, but some people are not too happy about it.

What's wrong with free WIFI? The machines generating it are inside people's homes, and many say they did not know their WiFi routers would host other people too.

Michelle Eulene has been a Comcast customer for years, but she's not happy with her WiFi now that her router is playing host to other Xfinity customers who want an internet connection.

"It feels weird for Comcast to take my modem that I am already paying for and delivering it to other people," said Eulene.

Eulene adds she was surprised to learn Xfinity is allowing WiFi routers in Houston to be an access to the world wide web. It's got Eulene very worried about online privacy and that's not all.

"What if somebody downloads something illegal and then it traces back to me? I didn't do it. So how is that going to work out," asked Eulene.

"That was my concern as well," said Houston IT expert Colman Ryan.

Ryan tested the Wi-Fi routers himself and says the router design does not allow strangers access to a person's data. He adds if someone downloads illegal content it will be the person who logged into the public side of the Wi-Fi router who gets in trouble.

While this may look like the Matrix, Ryan says it shows two separate paths to the internet on the Xfinity WiFi.

"The pathing test that I did, I looked at them side by side and they took completely different networks which is what we want to see," said Ryan.

Comcast says the public feature on the WiFi router is turned on by default, but you can turn it off by calling 1-800-XFINITY or by visiting My Account, clicking on "Users & Preferences", and then selecting "Manage XFINITY WiFi.

Comcast says only 1% of customers have opted to turn off the Home Hotspot feature. The customers we spoke with say they don't like the idea, but not enough to cancel their subscriptions.