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To Xfinity WiFi we're all hotspots, but you don't have to be

Mark Hachman | July 3, 2014
Comcast reserves one band and antenna for your own use, and one to serve as a public Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspot.

Comcast says that users should have been notified of their routers evolution into an Xfinity hotspot via email, mailers, and even a press release. If you dont want Xfinity WiFi, however, you have to opt out. Heres the process, as noted by Dwight Silverman:

Log into your Comcast account page at

Click on Users & Preferences.

Look for a heading on the page for Service Address. Below your address, click the link that reads Manage Xfinity WiFi.

Click the button for Disable Xfinity Wifi Home Hotspot.

Click Save.

You can also call Comcast and ask that they put the modem into bridge mode.

The answer: buy an approved third-party router

The easiest way, of course, is to simply ditch Comcasts modem entirely. PCWorld contributor Eric Geier gets into the nuts and bolts. To its credit, Comcast makes the process simple from its end as well.

First, check Comcasts site to see whether your existing cable modem is expiring, as Comcast may not tell you. An older modem may be hobbling your premium-broadband service. Proceed to Comcasts dedicated site to buy a new cable modem. (Cox has its own list of compatible modems, as does Time Warner Cable.)

On the Comcast site, youll find prices as low as $70 (new from Amazon) for the Arris/Motorola SB6121 bare-bones modem. (On the low end, of course, youll need to supply a separate router.) Have a look at the specs, too: the SB6121 can transfer 172 Mbits/s down and upload up to 131 Mbits/s. Thats more than enough for most small families, especially if your service is only rated at, say, 16 Mbits/s. But if youre thinking of upgrading to the Extreme 150 tier, for example, that might be pushing it a bit. The $90 Arris SB6141 downloads up to 343 Mbits/s at a time.

You can also pay more, if you wish, to buy a true gateway with integrated router capabilities, including the most recent 802.11ac technology for higher-bandwidth wireless streaming and MoCA capability for using your existing coax runs as wired networking cables.

Its fairly certain the third-party gateways on the Comcast site wont suddenly sprout Xfinity WiFi capabilities. Simply buy Comcasts low-end recommended modem and attach your own router to iteither one you already own, or a new model. (Heres the PCWorld roundup of the best 802.11ac routers of 2013.)

The most annoying part of the process may be returning your existing router, and phoning in your new routers MAC address to ensure it can be identified by your cable provider.

Eventually, of course, any new cable modem you purchase will itself become obsolete. That doesnt look like it will happen anytime soon, however. Last Halloween, CableLabs released the specifications for DOCSIS 3.1, which sets the stage for whopping 10-Gbit/s connections. As Light Reading notes, end-to-end deployment trials will likely begin in 2016. And most cable operators are thinking of DOCSIS 3.1 in the context of a world where video is passed entirely over IP streams, which may be far in the future.


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