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Recently Comcast has rolled out a revolutionary plan to improve the WiFi experience for all of their customers. In the words of Tom Nagel, senior Vice President of business development:
“WiFi is at the center of our strategy to offer our customers the best online experience, whether it’s the fastest WiFi experience in the home, or a fast and reliable WiFi environment outside the home. WiFi is an important part of our strategy to be the place where customers connect all devices, anywhere and at any time.”
Connect anywhere and anytime? Sounds great but just how do they plan to make it a reality?
Comcast is going to accomplish this by giving every one of their Internet customers an extra SSID (Xfinity WiFi signal) which will broadcast from their Wireless Gateway device. This additional signal will not cost the original customer anything more nor will it create a privacy problem. The signal will be completely separate, but will be broadcasting from the same device. The original WiFi signal will continue to serve the same purposes it always did in the home. Everyone will still be able to connect their smart phones, laptops, tablets and anything else the same way. The second signal will be called “xfinitywifi” and is intended to be a shared network signal. Anyone who is already a Comcast Internet subscriber will be able to access the internet using their own user name and password.
This is being promoted as a great way to let friends, relatives and guests access whatever they need to from whichever device without interfering with the homeowners’ original wireless signal. If you’re a guest in someone’s home this means you won’t have to awkwardly ask for the WiFi password or go through a night without the ability to watch movies or play online games. Instead, you’ll be able to log on using the same credentials you do in your own home and do whatever you need to do.
So far these “neighborhood hotspots” have been in trials in parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. Approximately 100,000 or more Xfinity Internet customers have already successfully used these second signal hotspots in these neighborhoods.
The neighborhood hotspot idea is the second part of Comcast’s idea to bring WiFi to its customers everywhere they need it. The first part was the installation of Xfinity WiFi access points in more than 150,000 indoor and outdoor locations in dozens of major cities throughout the country. These hotspots allowed subscribers to connect their wireless devices through an SSID called “CableWiFi” by using their own account information to log in. The use of these public hotspots has gone well but they are only available where there are high concentrations of people who will need access. This second part, the “neighborhood hotspot” will provide customers with the ability to connect to WiFi even if they aren’t in a densely populated area.
This neighborhood hotpot signal will be available whenever any home is broadcasting an Xfinity WiFi signal from a new Wireless Gateway. It could be in a busy apartment complex, a quite gated community or even a farm house with no neighbors for miles. No matter where a customer is, Comcast does seem to be trying to get a hotspot to them.