A money grab for Comcast? 200,000 customers will soon become public WiFi hotspots

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.
Comcast

(CNN) — 200,000 Comcast customers in the Seattle region are becoming public WiFi hotspots.

It’s all part of Comcast’s plan to expand internet availability.

It’s a mantra preached by internet experts: Know who’s using your home wireless network!

But Comcast is launching a network of 200,000 wireless hotspots in the Seattle region.

The new Arris wireless modems being installed by Comcast have two signals — one for home use and one controlled by Comcast.

The signal controlled by Comcast can be accessed by anyone — without the homeowner’s knowledge.

“When customers understand how it’s used, they really like it,” Comcast VP of Communications Steve Kipps aid.

Comcast says the goal is to expand free wifi access to neighborhoods around the country for existing Comcast customers.

Non-customers have to pay, and that’s why some say it’s a money grab by Comcast on the backs of its customers — who are powering and paying for their routers.

For non-Comcast customers, the first hour is free.

It costs $2,95 for the next hour, $7.95 for the day, and $19.95 for the week.

Comcast says this second network is totally secure.

“They are especially looked at as a temporary customer at that point so they are traceable,” Kipp said.

Comcast says it has sent a letter to homeowners — letting them know of the second public wireless network and that speeds aren’t affected.

“We’ve got enough bandwidth there to be able to make sure your speeds remain the same. In the future the xfinity WiFi hotspot solution could enable millions of hotspots across the country,” Kipp said.

Customers that don’t want to be a part of this program can simply call Comcast and have the second network disabled.

Only Comcast customers who subscribe to the “performance” or “blast” internet plans and have an Arris wireless modem are affected.

Comcast announced in February plans to acquire Time Warner Cable.