Comcast thinks it ok to install public wifi in your house

Scott Helms khelms at
Fri Dec 12 03:37:18 UTC 2014

Seriously, I mean the availability of WiFi coming from your house clearly
trumps trespassing laws.
On Dec 11, 2014 8:16 PM, "Matthew Kaufman" <matthew at> wrote:

> Lots of other good reasons to oppose this (Comcast customers parking in
> your driveway to get the service, etc.)
> What would you tell AT&T if they installed a coin phone at every
> residential outside demarc?
> Matthew Kaufman
> (Sent from my iPhone)
> > On Dec 11, 2014, at 4:33 PM, Owen DeLong <owen at> wrote:
> >
> > This thread is out of control... I will attempt to summarize the salient
> points in hopes we can stop arguing about inaccurate minutiae.
> >
> > I don't like the way Comcast went about doing what they are doing, but I
> do like the general idea...
> >
> > Reasonably ubiquitous free WiFi for your subscribers when they are away
> from their home location is not a bad idea.
> >
> > The way Comcast has gone about it is a bit underhanded and sneaky. The
> flaws in their plan are not technical, they are ethical and
> communication-oriented in nature.
> >
> > To wit:
> >    There's nothing wrong with Comcast adding a separate SSID with
> dedicated upstream bandwidth on a WAP I rent from them[1].
> >    There's no theft of power, as the amount of additional power used is
> imperceptible, if any.
> >    There's no theft of space, climate control, or other overhead as this
> is performed by existing CPE.
> >    There's probably no legal liability being transferred by this to the
> subscriber.
> >
> > In short, the only thing really truly wrong with this scenario is that
> Comcast is using equipment that the subscriber should have exclusive
> control over (they are renting it, so while Comcast retains ownership, they
> have relinquished most rights of control to the "tenant") how the device is
> used.
> >
> > As I see it, there are a couple of ways Comcast could have made this an
> entirely voluntary (opt-in) program and communicated it to their customers
> positively and achieved a high compliance rate. Unfortunately, in an action
> worthy of their title as "America's worst company", instead of positively
> communicating with their customers and seeking cooperation and permission
> to build out something cool for everyone, they instead simply inflicted
> this service on chosen subscribers without notice, warning, or permission.
> >
> > In short, Comcast's biggest real failure here is the failure to ask
> permission from the subscriber before doing this on equipment the
> subscriber should control.
> >
> > Arguing that some obscure phrase in updated ToS documents that nobody
> ever reads permits this may keep Comcast from losing a law suit (though I
> hope not), but it certainly won't improve their standing in the court of
> public opinion. OTOH, Comcast seems to consider the court of public opinion
> mostly irrelevant or they would be trying to find ways not to retain their
> title as "America's worst company".
> >
> > I will say that my reaction to this, if Comcast had done it to me would
> be quite different depending on how it was executed...
> >
> >
> > Scenario A: Positive outcome
> >
> > CC    "Mr. DeLong, we would like to replace your existing cablemodem
> with a DOCSIS 3.0 unit and give you faster service
> >    for free. However, the catch is that we want to put up an additional
> 2.4Ghz WiFi SSID on the WAP built into the modem
> >    that will use separate cable channels (i.e. won't affect your
> bandwidth) that our other subscribers can use once they
> >    authenticate when they are in range. Would you mind if we did that?"
> >
> > ME    "Well, since I currently own my modem, and it's already DOCSIS 3,
> I don't want to give up any of my existing functionality
> >    and I have no desire to start paying rental fees. If you can provide
> the new one without monthly fees and it will do everything
> >    my current one does (e.g. operating in transparent bridge mode), then
> I don't see any reason why not."
> >
> >
> > Scenario B: Class Action?
> >
> > CC    ""
> >
> > ME    -- Discovers Xfinity WiFi SSID and wonders "WTF is this?"
> >    -- Tracks down source of SSID and discovers CC Modem in my garage is
> doing this.
> >    -- Calls Comcast "WTF?"
> >
> > CC    "blah blah blah, updated ToS, you agreed, blah blah"
> >
> > ME    Starts calling lawyers
> >
> > ========
> >
> > Unfortunately, it seems to me that Comcast (and apparently other Cable
> WiFi assn. members) have chosen Scenario B. Very unfortunate, considering
> how much easier and more productive scenario A could be.
> >
> > Owen
> >

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