Yesterday, Comcast announced a "neighborhood hotspot iniative," a new plan to turn its millions of Xfinity Internet customers into Wi-Fi hotspots. Essentially, Comcast is setting up guest networks named "xfinitywifi" for all their customers, allowing for other Xfinity subscribers—and only subscribers—to access wireless networks if they are traveling. This plan is similar to that unveiled by the company Fon in Spain in 2007—share some Wi-Fi yourself and get access to others' networks when you roam around.
This is closer to what we're advocating for through the Open Wireless Movement—a world of ubiquitous, open wireless. And we commend Comcast for recognizing the importance of sharing Wi-Fi. But it's not quite there.
First, the privacy component: Comcast's plan makes you log in using your account credentials to verify you're a subscriber before letting you access the Internet. This ties your online activities to a specific login, eliminating the possibility of an a pseudonymous connection and weakening the privacy benefits of Open Wireless.
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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc