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Report: Comcast's public Xfinity WiFi program actually costs you money

2014-07-02 09:25 by
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Comcast has recently installed 1 million Xfinity WiFi hotspots across the nation, with plans to reach 8 million by the end of the year. The company claims that these routers cost subscribers nothing extra. But it turns out that these hotspots could cost their owners higher electricity bills.

Alex Gizis, CEO of Speedify, which makes software that bonds Internet connections to combine bandwidth, decided to conduct an experiment and find out how much such a hotspot would increase subscribers' monthly bills.

"As a bandwidth-obsessed engineer, I wanted to understand exactly what Comcast is doing here," he wrote last week. "Despite their claims that these routers cost subscribers nothing extra, we actually measured the power consumption on the router they sent us and were surprised by the results."

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."

So, if the hotspot is used by passersby constantly it would cost the Comcast subscriber "up to $22.80 per year for those of us here in Philadelphia, or $1.90 per month," according to Speedify.

In response, Comcast spokesperson Joel Shadle said 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equipment, rather than the equipment that's used for the residential hotspot program, and that the equipment was outdated.

"There shouldn't be any discernable difference in the amount of electricity you're using because your router is already plugged in to do your own wireless in your home," Shadle said. Any extra amount of electricity usage "would be nominal at most," he said.

Read more -here-


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