As Comcast and its cable partners revealed today it already has the largest Wi-Fi hotspot in the U.S., but the cable provider has plans to make that Wi-Fi network bigger – far bigger.
Monday at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association conference in Washington, D.C., Comcast said it has begun shipping a new version of its wireless gateway to residential broadband customers that pulls double duty as a private Wi-Fi router and a public hotspot. Basically the Cisco Systems gateway transmits two signals — each with separate SSIDs – each functioning as a separate network. The family that owns or rents the router can access the first network, but the second is open to any Comcast broadband customer.
This kind of crowdsourced broadband isn’t new. It was pioneered by Spain’s Fon years ago, but it’s recently gained traction among traditional telecom services providers looking for a cheap way to expand broadband capabilities to customers outside their homes. The biggest worldwide practitioner is France’s Free Mobile, whose parent company Iliad is a residential broadband provider like Comcast.
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