Little known free Xfinity/Comcast app lets you locate free Comcast WiFi hotspots nearby

I was leaving a Best Buy the other day and the local Xfinity rep was handing out bags and pens to touting their home alarm monitoring service. I chatted with him for a bit and in talking he told me about a free Xfinity/Comcast app lets you locate free WiFi hotspots nearby.

There are tons of these all over the place and many are not well known. These ride on existing Wifi business installs but (according to him) use a separate antenna that does not interface (data or access-wise) with the clients network. These are free to log on and use if you are a Comcast customer. Go to your phone or tablet’s app store and search for “Xfinity Wifi”. When activated the app will automatically ID your location and tell you the nearest free WiFi hotspots. You have to be a Comcast customer to log on.

I tried this an was stunned by how many popped up around me. In seeing reviews of the app some love it and others bitched how it was inaccurate and several tagged hotspots they tried were not active.

It’s surprising how many of these things there are.

What’s to keep someone with criminal intent from naming a network with that name and harvesting anything that comes across it?

I’ll check that out, thanks.

Perhaps you are not aware that Comcast is turning the private homes of its internet customers into public wifi hotspots?

Unless you opt out, all new routers installed in residences by Comcast will allow access by other Comcast customers.

Huh. That explains why my phone/Kindle are constantly trying to point and ook at networks called “Comcast” and “Xfinity” everywhere I go. FWIW, their “Boston” program must spread outside of city limits, and possibly also to small business customers. I’ve caught signal from these things from the commuter rail trains to and from Providence, RI, as well as in places like the Davis Square T stop, where there are no private homes near enough to be pinging on my phone. I’ll have to pester the roommate who handles the cable for our account login so I can use them.

(There’s no shortage of free wifi here even without that, though. MIT alone blankets about a square mile of Cambridge with guest wifi, no login page or password required. The City of Boston proper provides wifi out on Boston Common, although you have to be within spitting distance of the Frog Pond to pick it up.)

Slashdot had a report last month of exactly that happening. Looks like a real Comcast login screen, but just harvesting credentials.

You have no idea whether an alleged Comcast WiFi spot is legit or not.

This could be fixed by having a browser helper that did suitable authentication before you got to a log on screen, but this is Comcast. What are the chances of that happening?