I am a Comcast customer. Hey, when Comcast's TV and Internet service work here at my house, I am pretty satisfied. But the fact remains that their customer service sucks big-time, and they are "America's Most Hated Company" according to this survey:
But I digress. More on how to make things right when Comcast hoses you later.
In this post, I'd like to point out one big benefit of being a Comcast broadband customer. If you are a Comcast broadband customer, then you are able to login with your Comcast account to any Xfinity (same as Comcast) wifi hotspot that you can find. These Xfinity wifi hotspots are everywhere, including residential neighborhoods. This is because Comcast, when it rents a modem and wifi router to a customer, automatically turns on a publicly accessible wifi hotspot on that router. The network name is Xfinity, and if you wander around any neighborhood where Comcast supplies broadband to customers, then you will see these hotspots on your phone, iPad, laptop, etc. If you have a Comcast account, then you can log into these Xfinity hotspots and get data over wifi. Never mind that most customers do not realize that they are hosting a public wifi hotspot at their home; Comcast doesn't notify its customers that this is happening.
This is great if you are traveling. Even better, I have stumbled onto a device that can receive an Xfinity Internet signal (where I have no internet otherwise) and get internet thereby (not fast, but enough to get my email and browse the web). Recently, a relative passed away, and I was asked to put in security cameras in the house, even when there was no internet or phone operational in the house.
The device I used is called a Wifi as WAN, or WISP router. A WISP router takes a wifi signal from one source, then creates its own wifi network. There are many of these out there, but I've been using the TP-Link CPE210 and TL-WA7210N Outdoor Wireless Access Points/WISP routers. They have been working astoundingly well at this vacant house.
The CPE210 is the newer and more reliable WISP router. It receives an Xfinity signal from somewhere in the vacant house's neighborhood (at least 100 yards away) and rebroadcasts the signal as a wifi signal in the house. It's been working, with no human intervention, since mid-September of this year -- over two months -- to send signals from a few IP security cameras in the house.
The WA7210N unit is older and worked at the house for a month before needing a reset; it's happened twice, and having to reset the unit is a bit of a hassle. Both of these units receive an Xfinity signal and will go for weeks and months without requiring someone to log in to the Xfinity login page again.
Again, to use the jargon I encountered while trying to find a device that could do this -- these TP-Link WISP routers are able to keep an Xfinity internet connection active without having to continually log into the Xfinity web authentication page.
I did do the following items to ensure that the TP-Link WISP routers kept the Xfinity internet signal on as much as possible.
I. I did set up a Windows laptop in the house to automatically open up a web page every 24 hours using Windows' Task Scheduler:
I also set the laptop to sleep after 10 minutes of inactivity.
II. I was concerned that there might be a time limit where Xfinity would disconnect from my TP-Link WISP router, as described here:
I therefore set the TP-Link CPE 210 router to ping the Google DNS server 188.8.131.52 every 300 seconds (five minutes), to keep the Xfinity connection alive. The TP-Link WA7210N router does not seem to have this capability. I also set the TP-Link CPE210 to level 21 of radio power (it was set at the maximum 27 setting).
By the way, the TP-Link WA7210N router works, but after a month, it seems to need a reset. Here are the instructions on how to reset the router:
TP-Link TL-WA7210N reset instructions:
If TP-Link 7210 stops working, here's the way to get back into the admin page:
1. While the unit is powered on (using a good Ethernet cable), it will likely show all four wifi signal strength LEDs as on.
Reset the unit -- use a paper clip and press in the reset button while the unit is on. Press in for 10 seconds or more until all lights turn off. Remove the clip and in a few seconds, all wifi signal strength LEDs will likely turn back on.
Note that once I connected a PC or Mac to the LAN port on the POE injector block, the LAN light on the TP-Link turned on.
Also, one Ethernet cable could not power the TP-Link on at all!
Note that I had to use the TP-Link Ethernet to USB cable. I had to unplug it and put it back in for the MB Pro to recognize that there was an Ethernet cable plugged in.
2. After reset, you need to manually assign your PC a static IP address, 192.168.0.100 for example. It won't get IP address automatically because there is no DHCP service on TL-WA7210 by default.
I used the MB Pro and chose Location Untitled:
Configure IPv4: using DHCP with Manual address
IP address 192.168.0.10
3. Then connect your PC to the TL-WA7210N via a cable, log into TL-WA7210N which is 192.168.0.254
I was then able to log in.