Comcast raises your electric bill by turning router into a public hotspot

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Since 2013, Comcast's wireless gateways have by default broadcast a second signal that turns each customer's modem and router into a public Wi-Fi hotspot.

It's all part of Comcast's plan to create a nationwide Wi-Fi network of more than 1 million hotspots that the cable company can sell access to. Routers broadcast public Wi-Fi signals, unless you ask Comcast to turn it off.

Comcast deflected criticism by arguing that the hotspot's bandwidth is separate from the bandwidth subscribers pay for, so it won't reduce the customer's Internet speeds. But what about electricity? Alex Gizis, CEO of Speedify, which makes software that bonds Internet connections to combine bandwidth, decided to investigate.

To test the effect of people using the hotspot, Gizis plugged the Comcast modem and router into a power strip that was being monitored by a "Kill A Watt" meter. After testing the devices while idle, "we then connected two Windows laptops to the Xfinity hotspot, one watching Netflix and the other downloading files," he wrote. "You could immediately see the difference in the power meter, as the devices jumped from 0.14 Amps when idle, up to 0.22 Amps when actually being used. To translate this into dollars and cents, we used the average cost of power here in the Mid-Atlantic, which is $0.162 per KWh."

Comcast spokesperson Joel Shadle told Ars that the Speedify test relied on Comcast's business equipment, rather than the equipment that's used for the residential hotspot program, and that the equipment was outdated.

Comcast raises your electric bill by turning router into a public hotspot Is Your Comcast Public Hotspot is Costing you Real Money? (Speedify)