eXploring Xfinity

A First Look at Provider-Enabled Community Networks
  • Dipendra K. Jha
  • John P. Rula
  • Fabián E. BustamanteEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9631)


Several broadband providers have been offering community WiFi as an additional service for existing customers and paid subscribers. These community networks provide Internet connectivity on the go for mobile devices and a path to offload cellular traffic. Rather than deploying new infrastructure or relying on the resources of an organized community, these provider-enabled community WiFi services leverage the existing hardware and connections of their customers. The past few years have seen a significant growth in their popularity and coverage and some municipalities and institutions have started to consider them as the basis for public Internet access.

In this paper, we present the first characterization of one such service – the Xfinity Community WiFi network. Taking the perspectives of the home-router owner and the public hotspot user, we characterize the performance and availability of this service in urban and suburban settings, at different times, between September, 2014 and 2015. Our results highlight the challenges of providing these services in urban environments considering the tensions between coverage and interference, large obstructions and high population densities. Through a series of controlled experiments, we measure the impact to hosting customers, finding that in certain cases, the use of the public hotspot can degrade host network throughput by up-to 67 % under high traffic on the public hotspot.


Access Point Home Network WiFi Network Download Speed Suburban Setting 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank our shepherd Matthew Luckie and the anonymous reviewers for their invaluable feedback. Also, we thank Rishabh Gemawat and Sabita Acharya for helping with data collection. This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation through Award CNS 1218287.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dipendra K. Jha
    • 1
  • John P. Rula
    • 1
  • Fabián E. Bustamante
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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