Thursday, June 12, 2014

Comcast is turning your home routers into public Wi-Fi hotspots

We had Comcast recently for a very short while. It was AWFUL in so many ways. We have the luxury of being able to choose between Verizon FIOS and Comcast. Verizon service was fantastic but their pricing was out of sight. We quit Verizon for Comcast. I think it lasted maybe 60 to 90 days before I realized that, although less expensive, it was simply horrible in so many ways. I got a "please come back letter" from Verizon, and a week later another one. They offered a better rate than I had been paying them before, and in fact, their monthly package, including 50 MB/S download and 25 MB/S upload and cable TV (Prime) came in $34 per month cheaper than Comcast! It was an easy decision to switch back to Verizon FIOS where we once again are experiencing true high speed internet. As a part of my negotiating with Verizon, they waived all of those nonsensical installation fees, the ones the like to spread over 3 months to make them seem smaller!

 It took me about 5 seconds after Comcast installed to realize what they were doing with MY router. I fixed that quick.

Here is the story as found today on

"Comcast has a brand new feature for its Internet subscribers called Xfinity Wi-Fi, but it’s going about it the wrong way, likely making even more enemies in the process. SeattlePi reports that Comcast is turning some of the Wi-Fi routers placed in the homes of subscribers into a “massive public Wi-Fi hotspot network,” but it’s doing so without giving customers the opportunity to opt out before the service is rolled out.

In theory, Xfinity Wi-Fi sounds like a neat idea, as it can provide free Internet access to other Xfinity subscribers as long as they’re within reach of such an Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspot. Moreover, the extra load on the router does not affect the bandwidth of the customer who houses it, as the device creates two independent networks, one private, and one public, using additional bandwidth for the public one.

As such, any users on the public Xfinity Wi-Fi network will not slow down customers’ connections, according to the company.

Comcast apparently informed its subscribers about the move in the mail a few weeks ago, and then email notifications go out after the service is turned on for each user. The company on Tuesday turned 50,000 Comcast Internet customers into public Wi-Fi providers in Houston, with 100,000 more hotspots to be activated by the end of June.

Users only have the opportunity to disable the service after it’s activated. A Comcast FAQ section further details Xfinity Wi-Fi, while the following guide, as listed by SeattlePi, should help Comcast customers disable the new Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspot feature:
  • 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"

Monday, June 9, 2014

How to boost home WiFi for PCs and more

If only one of these tips helps improve your response time, it's worth reading. I saw the Kim Komando article on her web site not too long ago, and today I found it on USA Today.

"Sometimes Wi-Fi doesn't seem to make any sense. You're trying to connect to your home network but you're getting a stronger signal from the neighbor's router than your own router.

Inconsistent coverage is one of Wi-Fi's big problems. It always seems to stop just short of where you need it. Even when you do connect, the signal is spotty and unbearably slow. Fortunately, there are several tricks to boost a Wi-Fi signal. Even better, most of these tricks are free.

Choose the right location

Most Wi-Fi antennas are omni-directional: the signal goes every direction equally. So if you put the router along an outside wall, you're wasting half your signal outside. In fact, many times that's why you get such a strong signal from your neighbors. They're making the same mistake.

Cool trick: If you need to send a Wi-Fi signal a long-distance in just one direction, you can add a parabolic reflector to your antenna. If your router has an internal antenna, a sheet of curved aluminum foil set behind the router can work as well.

For the best all-around signal, you want your router as close as possible to the middle of the house, or the middle of the area where you need it. That means if you live in a two-story house, you want it either on the first floor near the ceiling, or on the second floor near the ground.

You should also pay attention to what's around the router. Putting it right next to a wall or inside a bookcase can partially block the signal. And definitely keep it away from metal, a microwave or a cordless telephone.

Change the channel

If you've moved the router and it didn't help as much as you'd hoped, then you might need to tweak a router setting. This mostly applies to 802.11g and older 802.11n routers. If you have an 802.11n router purchased in the last few years or an 802.11ac router, it should do this for you automatically.

To access the settings, open your computer browser and type in the router's IP address. The IP address will be in your router's manual, which will also tell you the default router username and password so you can log in.

Important side note: If you haven't changed your router's default password, you're leaving it wide open for hackers. So, be sure to change the password while you're in the settings.

Once you're in the settings, you can adjust the router broadcast channel to reduce interference with other routers. Most 802.11n and g routers are set to channel 1, 6 or 11, and you should stick to one of those. For example, if your router is set to channel 1, try switching to 6 or 11 and see if that improves your signal.

If you want to see what's really happening in the invisible world of radio waves, grab a program like Vistumbler for your laptop or the Wi-Fi Analyzer app for your Android gadget. Both will show you the routers in your area and what channels they're using.

You don't want too many routers using the same channel. See how many routers are using channels 1, 6, and 11 and use whichever channel is least crowded.

Upgrade your router

If you do have an 802.11b, 802.11g or older 802.11n router, it might be best to upgrade to a new router. Newer routers often have better range, faster speeds and extra features like guest networks.

You can also buy a Wi-Fi booster or range extender, but unless you have an especially large house those shouldn't be necessary. If you do buy a new router, you might be able to use your old router as a range extender.

On the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show, Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, newsletters and more, E-mail her at"