Comcast offers free Wi-Fi in the wake of Sandy

Comcast will offer use of its Wi-Fi network free of charge to those hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy, the cable and Internet provider said on Wednesday. The network, which is typically free for unlimited use by those with an Xfinity Internet account, is now open to the public through November 7.

Hotspots in Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. are part of the offer. A list of these hotspots can be found using Xfinity’s Wi-Fi coverage map available from the Comcast website.

Comcast’s hotspots can be found both indoors and outdoors in parks, public places, public transportation, and shopping malls. The cable provider operates some 50,000 of these hotspots across the country, mostly across the Northeast and in California.

To use the free Wi-Fi, look for the “xfinitywifi” network at a participating hotspot. On the page that pops up after connecting, look for the link that says “Not a Comcast Subscriber?” toward the bottom of the page. Click it, then select “Complementary Trial Session.” Comcast will allow you to renew your connection every two hours.

Obviously, the availability of these hotspots is dependent on both power and cable service being available at that location. In the hardest hit areas, that may be a bit tough: Current estimates put some 7 million people without power, and as much a a quarter of residents in the ten states affected by Sandy without broadband service.

Another caveat is that Comcast’s offer of free Wi-Fi only extends to hotspots operated by Comcast directly. Those operated by partners such as Cablevision and Time Warner Cable are not part of the promotion. That includes some of the hardest hit areas—including New York City, Long Island and Connecticut.

Neither company had announced similar plans for free Wi-Fi to those affected by Sandy as of Wednesday afternoon.

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