Back at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., Comcast opened its more than one million public Wi-Fi hot spots to the general public - including non-Comcast customers. The company had taken that step in the past following natural disasters in specific regions, including hurricanes and wildfires, but never on that wide scale.
The move has been controversial for multiple reasons. Comcast has not opened customers' home routers for the general public's use, as the Xfinity WiFi signal produced by those is different from the one from the public hot spots, but one group of three U.S. senators wrote a letter suggesting that Comcast should do so, although the company has not.
Now, as states and other areas begin to re-open, Comcast has announced an extension of the offer, through the end of 2020.
"We saw a huge jump in usage after we opened up our public hotspots, and we’re excited to keep them open through the end of the year as the nation begins taking steps to reopen,” Dana Strong, President of Xfinity Consumer Services, said as part of the announcement.
“We’re pleased to see so many families and individuals take advantage of our 60 days of free home Internet through Internet Essentials, and the free access to public Xfinity WiFi hotspots to get online during this time when connectivity is so important.” Comcast will also, it said, “continue to waive the requirement that those customers not have a past due balance with Comcast to qualify for the free offer.”
The company also said that "hundreds of thousands of non-Xfinity customers have taken advantage" of the hot spots since they became available in mid-March.
The public hotspots originate both from businesses and public areas.
Also last week, Comcast announced that it had extended its 60 days of free home Internet access for new eligible Internet Essentials customers. Originally set to expire on June 30, that offer is also in effect through the end of 2020.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.
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