Connecting to Comcast Xfinity WiFi on the Street

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.

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Jersey City Janky Pole

Jersey City, New Jersey was founded in 1630.  It’s an old and ancient East Coast metropolis. Jersey City is also, because of its geological terrain, a city that teeters in the past with no clear way into a stabilized future.  Allow me to explain.  Unlike most modern cities that bury their power lines and cable television lines and other communication cables, Jersey City still hangs all their municipal cabling from telephone poles hoisted along the streets.

The reason for this is simple: Jersey City is built on bedrock.  In order to put the cables in the ground, you’d have to dig up massive boulders.  You don’t dig precise trenches in Jersey City.  You excavate pits.  That Jersey City bedrock is both good and bad.  It’s good because Jersey City is the definition of “rock solid” — the city core is incredibly sturdy — and it’s bad because your city looks like it’s stuck in the 1950’s with all sorts of wires and cables angling above your head every day.  Another problem with telephone poles in your city is that they are made out of wood and they warp while in use and they need to be replaced.  You can’t “bury it, and forget it” like you can with cables.

I’ve lived in Jersey City for over a decade and the first thing that struck me about the city all those years ago was the plethora of what I call — “Janky Poles” — telephone poles that look like they’re about to tip over and break from overuse.  A few days ago, I took a half-hour walk on the streets of Jersey City to memorialize some of the sillier Janky Poles in my neighborhood and here are the best-of-the-worst for your perusal.

The first Janky Pole is the second pole in the distance.  Every time I happen upon that particular  Janky Pole, I always cross the street because I fear if someone sneezes too close to that chunk of wood, the whole thing will come toppling down.

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