Comcast to use home routers for public wi-fi

From The Wall Street Journal:

Comcast said Wednesday it plans to boost the number of Wi-Fi hotspots it offers to 8 million from 1 million by the end of this year. The bulk of those hotspots will come from inside its customers’ homes, a Comcast spokesman said. The company’s home routers have a separate, public connection that will allow other Comcast customers to use available Wi-Fi without having to put in a password…

The expansion is taking place in 19 cities including Boston, Chicago and San Francisco Chief Executive Brian Roberts said at a cable industry conference Wednesday that the buildout would help Comcast offer wireless service, an idea it is again studying after selling off its wireless spectrum to Verizon three years ago…

Putting together a wireless network primarily based on Wi-Fi would be cheaper than building a cellular network in part because Wi-Fi hotspots are cheaper to build, and the signals can be carried over the airwaves for free. Wireless carriers, on the other hand, must spend billions obtaining the rights to use the airwaves…

Getting calls to work seamlessly over Wi-Fi networks will be more difficult…The airwaves Wi-Fi uses don’t travel as far or penetrate walls as well as the airwaves used by wireless carriers, so Wi-Fi networks will never match the ubiquitous reach of wireless carriers.

From someone in Houston, Slashdot.org:

Comcast plans to turn 50,000 home routers into public Wi-Fi hotspots without their users providing consent. Comcast plans to eventually convert 150,000 home routers into a city-wide WiFi network…

What’s interesting about this move is that, by default, the feature is being turned on without its subscribers’ prior consent. It’s an opt-out system – you have to take action to not participate.

Personally, I don’t like the idea of strangers sharing my router, even if it’s through a separate connection. And I don’t particularly care for the fact that Comcast wants to increase its profits by bombarding me and my family with additional radiofrequency radiation. About this, see Open Letter by UK Medical Doctors. In part, it reads:

We wish to highlight our concern over the safety of exposure to microwave radiation from wireless technology, particularly for vulnerable groups like children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with compromised health.

There is growing concern that chronic (long-term) exposure to radiofrequency/microwave radiation from wireless technologies causes damage, particularly genetic damage, cognitive damage, cancer and decreased fertility…

Additionally, doctors are encountering a significant and growing number of people presenting with a range of acute (short-term) symptoms from wireless radiation, including headaches, palpitations, rashes, fatigue, sleep disturbance, allergies and memory and concentration problems.

International medical agencies have recognised the evidence of harm (see appended list) but these rulings may take many years to be reflected in public health policy. This controversy is a common characteristic of scientific understanding when environmental exposures are new.

Whatever next?

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