Why is Comcast paying me to use their modem?
November 5, 2019 11:57 AM   Subscribe

I have Comcast gigabit internet, and use my own cable modem (which then hooks to my router, etc.) In evaluating my plan Comcast said they will lower my internet cost by $50 but the catch is...I MUST install and use their modem/router. Is there any reason I shouldn't do it?

I'm a privacy nut and worried about network monitoring...but it's not like they can't track my network usage already as I'm on their network.

I like my own router and Wifi, but I can just set it to Passthrough mode...

I'm guessing they'll maybe have it configured to be a XFinity hotspot, but my house is isolated so I don't see that as being a problem...

Is there any reason I shouldn't do it?
posted by arniec to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Obviously their router will set up a public hotspot, $50/month seems pretty wild to offer to one single residence to get that in place but maybe your neighborhood doesn't have that many or you're in a prime location. It shouldn't affect your own bandwidth, at least that's what Comcast promises... (eyeroll)...

The only downside I can see is if you have kids in your home and some kind of family filter on your router. My kids have discovered they can bypass my router and connect to the xfinitywifi public AP that the next door neighbor is broadcasting from his leased modem. We've had more than a few discussions about not doing that.
posted by JoeZydeco at 12:14 PM on November 5 [2 favorites]


Since, like you said, they already know everything about where you go on the internet, tell 'em you'll do it for the entire cost of your monthly comcast bill.
posted by turkeybrain at 12:32 PM on November 5


If it's anything like what I've experienced, they will charge you for the use of that hardware - $3-5 a month. But if you're getting $50 off monthly that's pretty puny.

I'd ask directly whether there are any other requirements, such as that it provide a hotspot or whatever. Most people just will stick with the default but you may be able to opt out of those things after they apply the discount.

For instance they may give you a year-long contract at the new price if you agree to use their hardware. But you could ask if that discount will remain if after it is installed you opt out of or manually disable any service you don't want to use, like the hotspot thing.

I'd also ask if there are any differences in their tracking or privacy policies if you use this hardware.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:50 PM on November 5


If you’re a privacy nut, then you should be using a VPN; that will prevent Comcast from monitoring your traffic. And yes, by default they set their modems to broadcast as an Xfinity hotspot, but it’s easy to turn off that “feature” (or it was last time I had Comcast). Using their modem also allows them to sell your data.

I suspect they may offer you a one time $50.00 credit, not monthly, then when they’ve got you good and hooked, they’ll try to start charging you to “rent” their modem. And if you try to go back to using yours, they may say your equipment mysteriously doesn’t work anymore.

https://billfixers.com/blog/comcast-is-charging-some-customers-35-to-own-their-own-modem

Stick with your own modem if you value your privacy.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 12:54 PM on November 5


> Using their modem also allows them to sell your data.
Isn't that also true when using your own modem, as it's still going through their network?
posted by farlukar at 2:55 PM on November 5


If you also use a (paid, not free) non-US-based VPN provider, no.

“ Since all traffic gets encrypted by the VPN, all that your ISP gets to see is indecipherable gibberish going back and forth between your personal computer or mobile device and the VPN server.

Even though your ISP sees that you are hooking up with a separate online address, it has no idea of your activities. So be sure to go for paid VPN services because free options hardly guarantee encrypted traffic.”

https://bitsfrombytes.com/isp-use-a-vpn/
posted by LuckySeven~ at 3:29 PM on November 5 [1 favorite]


I use Comcast's modem currently because I'm on a promo plan that includes equipment costs. You should be able to turn off the wi-fi hotspot on the modem (both the public 'xfinity-wifi' and personal one) if you choose to. I have wi-fi turned off and the modem is configured as a bridge to my own wifi router. That said, I plan to go back to my own equipment once the promo ends to avoid equipment rental fees.

I can't speak to the privacy angle other than that they should be able to observe the same traffic from you in either case, especially if you have your own router to keep anything on your personal network walled-off from the internet.
posted by Aleyn at 4:02 PM on November 5


You shouldn't actually need to use their equipment to get the deal, but you might have to have it in your possession. Even if you do, you have the option of disabling the xfinitywifi hotspot.

To know exactly what's up, more information about exactly what plan they are offering would be required to know what they are trying to sell you. I suspect it is a double play of some kind that normally comes with a lower tier, an extra charge to get you back up to gigabit, and a bunch of fees and taxes you aren't paying on an internet only plan.

They do (usually) have a legit $99/mo contract offer on the 1000/35 service that is still internet only. That's only $40 a month off the rack rate and doesn't require their equipment, though, so that is obviously not the offer you are asking about.
posted by wierdo at 4:23 PM on November 5


It could be because of management features, in addition to hotspot, etc. They can more easily monitor performance, as well as usage, with their own equipment. If you are indeed isolated, they may see being able to more easily, proactively monitor your service quality as a valuable data point. (I, too, hesitate to say good things about Comcast and any aspirations they have toward customer service, but on the other hand my Internet service from them has been flawless except for the time someone used their car to take out the utility box down the block, and Comcast and Puget Power together had that back up and running in less than 24 hours.)
posted by lhauser at 7:27 PM on November 5


Is that $50/month off the real rate? Or are you looking at the first year teaser rate? You should compare the final rate after any temporary discounts.

My guess is that Comcast just wants to move you to their new system. They've got you marked as an old / obsolete customer and are basically giving you a new customer rate if you switch over. You're right to be suspicious of their equipment though. Comcast is the devil's ISP. If you have any reasonable alternatives in your area consider them.
posted by Nelson at 7:35 AM on November 6


Agree with others...This is just Comcast trying to expand their hotspot network.

I would also dig into the fine print on whatever agreement they want you to agree to, and see if A. The $50 is limited to x-amount of time, and B. You don't also have to subscribe to Comcast's VOIP service. Their modems are required for the voice service, and I wouldn't put it past them to make a voice subscription mandatory in order to get the $50 credit.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:53 AM on November 6


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