When I read in May of this year that free WiFi connectivity outside the home was coming my way as a Comcast Xfinity customer, I was delighted at the thought of being able to have as fast an internet connection in the street as I’ve had here at home.
Comcast Corp. (CMCSA), the biggest U.S. broadband provider, is teaming up with other large cable companies to create a nationwide network of Wi-Fi hot spots, helping them fend off competition from phone carriers.
Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC), Cablevision Systems Corp., Bright House Networks LLC and Cox Communications Inc. are part of the pact, according to a statement from the companies today. The five cable carriers will let one another’s Web customers connect laptops, tablets and other mobile devices to their Wi-Fi networks in metro areas, totaling more than 50,000 hot spots.
During my daily walks, I’ve been seeing a lot of Xfinity vans along major thoroughfares with technicians installing metal things atop Jersey City Janky Poles.
Finding that curious, I decided to fire up the Comcast WiFi Hotspot webpage to get more information on new connectivity niches and I was surprised to see so many new indoor and outdoor WiFi connectoids for Xfinity in my immediate neighborhood.
Square icons indicate an indoor WiFi hotspot and round icons mean an outdoor WiFi hotspot. A triangle icon is a “partner” WiFi hotspot.
Here’s the regional view of the WiFi coverage for Comcast Xfinity customers. Looks pretty saturated, right?
However, when you drill down to view New York City in particular — Xfinity WiFi coverage in Manhattan and Queens is really sparse — and now you begin to see just how silly regional cable contracts are in real life:
I took my iPad and iPhone outside and started to walk around my Jersey City neighborhood.
I soon found the following available WiFi networks. Optimum cable are here as are Time-Warner Cable. Xfinity also had a strong signal.
I touched “xfinitywifi” on my iPhone and entered my account username and password and I was instantly connected to a SuperFast WiFi connection on the street! Wowser!
I was unable to do a SpeedTest because ping was turned off on the Xfinity server side — but checking email and doing some web surfing felt just as fast and as robust as being at home on a wire. Some of my website images did not load — the lower collage of images on Boles.com were blank, and I’m not sure why, maybe there’s some sort of speed compression engine running on the Xfinity backend to block web images that the system thinks are advertising sprites or something? Reloading the page made no difference. I don’t like a censored internet experience!
My Xfinity WiFi connection will automagically connect to any federated WiFi spot it finds as I roam along the regional East Coast — so all I had to do was login once and Xfinity and iOS handles logging in from here on out. I am also delighted to report I can login to Xfinity WiFi with my iPhone and iPad simultaneously while using the same username login. Life is good again on the street with Xfinity WiFi in my pocket!
If you have internet at home — make sure to check with your provider to see if there is a free WiFi option you can use while you’re out and about in the world away from your wire.