Comcast has started to use hundreds of thousands of homes in the Chicago area to create more hotspots for its publicly accessible wireless network. The company will continue to roll out this service to more areas in the next few months. The service will use Comcast-issued home equipment, and separate the Wi-Fi signal to allow anyone within range to get Internet reception. Comcast claims that since the two services are separated, the Comcast users’ signals will not be disturbed.
Wi-Fi was created in 1999, and has gained recent popularity due to the rising cost of cellular access, and inexpensive cost of Wi-Fi access. When wireless operators began charging for mobile data usage about four years ago, demand for Wi-Fi skyrocketed.
Cable companies have been trying to capitalize upon this in the past couple of years by providing customers with mobile access to video and Internet offerings. Comcast was the first to do this with its Wi-Fi initiative, allowing customers to access Wi-Fi in various hotspots.
“Once the dual-mode modems are activated remotely by Comcast, visitors will use their own Xfinity credentials to sign on, and will not need the homeowner’s permission or password to tap into the public Wi-Fi signal,” reports the Chicago Tribune. “Nonsubscribers will get two free hours a month; beyond that, they can access Xfinity Wi-Fi on a per-use basis. Rates run from $2.95 per hour to $19.95 per week.”
“The Utopian ideal of a massive, free Wi-Fi network has been around since the early days of Wi-Fi, but there was never an economically viable path to deliver it,” notes the article. “Comcast has a better shot at it than just about anybody else.”