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Communications The Internet Wireless Networking

1 In 3 Home Routers Will Be Used As Public Wi-Fi Hotspots By 2017 172

An anonymous reader writes: Juniper Research predicts that at least 1 in 3 home routers will be used as public Wi-Fi hotspots by 2017, and that the total installed base of such dual-use routers will reach 366 million globally by the end of 2020. Major broadband operators such as BT, UPC and Virgin Media in Europe and several of the biggest cable TV operators in the U.S. such as Comcast and Cablevision have adopted the homespot model as a low-cost way of rapidly expanding their domestic Wi-Fi coverage.
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1 In 3 Home Routers Will Be Used As Public Wi-Fi Hotspots By 2017

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 28, 2016 @12:51PM (#51388929)

    they already are?

  • I saw it coming (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I don't know about you, but the first time I saw one of these ADSL modem/802.11 access-point boxes from AT&T with all kinds of dark settings about second-channel 802.11 access that I thought, "sumbitch--they want to turn these into access points for their customers to roam". Whenever I see one of these, I work to disable that second-channel function.

    I rather have my own equipment, thank you. I have a DOCSYS 3 cable modem and a separate router box. Sometimes (generally less than once a month) I enable

    • Why disable it??
      My ISP router is like that, and if you enable the public hotspot on yours, you can use those of others too (which i find incredibly useful :) ).
      And for security: all that router is allowed to do is have my decent router in its DMZ, and from there on i form my own network where i know exactly what devices i'm using :).

      • by joaommp ( 685612 )

        but if I don't use on the others, why should *I* be paying for the electricity to serve other people?

        • Oh noes, you can pay for Internet but you cannot pay 10 cents per month to help other people!

          • by joaommp ( 685612 )

            10 cents per month? you must never have paid an electricity bill

            • Re:I saw it coming (Score:5, Insightful)

              by blackomegax ( 807080 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @02:16PM (#51389969) Journal
              You must never have done math. wifi chips consume 100-200 milliwatts, max, and that's under load. Idle is much lower. That's less than 10 cents a month, full tilt.
            • My current electricity cost is about 14 cents per kWh.
              My router draws 1.6 amps at 10 volts, for 16 watts of power.
              Plugging those numbers into this calculator [rapidtables.com] gives me a max monthly operating cost of about $1.64, or a yearly operating cost of less than $20. And that assumes that it is drawing the max amount of power 24/7.

              10 cents per month is probably still under-estimating the actual average cost, and you certainly have the right to bitch about having to pay any amount, but I'm really curious as to why
              • by joaommp ( 685612 )

                I'm sorry, what accusation?

                • The accusation that I never paid an electricity bill. I do, every month.

                  And Golddess's math assumes the full cost of running the wireless router while my argument was about the extra cost of having the secondary part of the router enabled. And his/her router takes an awful lot of power, to be honest. The Apple Airport Express (PDF) [apple.com] requires a maximum of 2.2 watts, which is 7.27 times less power, or about 0.23 cents per month for the whole router running at maximum capacity.

          • I'm all for charitably providing access, given the trivial cost. What rubs me very, very, much the wrong way is being shoved(with varying degrees of force) into providing uncompensated location and power for my friendly local ISP oligopoly.

            Aside from being as little a matter of choice as they can make it, you'll notice that these secondary hotspots aren't being run as a public service; but with captive portals and subscriber sign-ins.

            I have, and do, offer an open wifi channel(QoS ranked below anything
            • by zlives ( 2009072 )

              ditto

            • Re:I saw it coming (Score:4, Informative)

              by Ed Tice ( 3732157 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @05:20PM (#51391625)
              But it's not uncompensated access. The principle of these systems is reciprocal. Company XYZ adds a second-channel to the WiFi access points and all of their customers can use them. So if you are across town and need to access the Internet, you can just connect. The compensation is in the form of you getting to use the other APs. Now we could argue that it should be opt-in, but it's not uncompensated. In fact, I'm surprised they don't make it op-in as most people would do so with glee.
              • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

                Compensation depends on what you're getting out of it, and it should be fairly negotiated. This is being done without anyone's explicit permission, and that is wrong if the person being provided this service would instead prefer to save the money or simply not have to deal with their equipment operating in that mode.

                Having your equipment become a public access point turns your equipment into something that can be used by anyone. This can have the effect of causing the government to become interested in yo

                • I see your point and I even mentioned that I would prefer to see this (and most everything else) be opt-in. That being said, I'm also sympathetic to the providers here. Most people reading this are capable of setting up their own network and managing it to their needs. However, the vast majority of customers aren't able to do this and will end up with poorly implemented, insecure setups if they do it themselves. And when something doesn't work, their going to call the ISP support who has to ask them to
      • by mikael ( 484 )

        BT are doing something similar with residental wi-fi. If someone nearby is a BT customer, then their wifi provides a pay-as-you-go wifi zone where anyone can connect to that router, provide either their BT account number or just make a payment to connect for a few hours. Something on range of £25/week, £10/day.

        The only problems? It may be the only wifii free-zone connection point within range, and that owner at any time may decide to switch their router off if they see activity when they are not

  • Conflicting goals (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CrankyOldEngineer ( 3853953 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @12:56PM (#51388965)
    How will ISPs help enforce copyright laws if they don't know who is using your router?
    • Re:Conflicting goals (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 28, 2016 @01:03PM (#51389051)

      Speaking as a BT customer (well, a relative of one...), to use the hotspot, you must log in with your account details.

      The router has two networks and two IP addresses, so the ISP knows exactly who is surfing what.

      • by jnork ( 1307843 )

        ...And two different bandwidth allocations?

        • by TWX ( 665546 )
          If they set it up right, then yes, their usage won't count against your plan.

          Unfortunately they don't have a history of setting it up right. Plus, even if it doesn't count against your counters, the actual connection is only so fast, so if someone else is using then available bandwidth for you will decrease.

          I too run my own equipment and will for as long as possible. If it comes down to having to use their equipment, well, that's what carefully wrapped chicken wire is for.
          • Indeed - if they ever made me use their modem/router, I'd take off the antennas and wrap it in tinfoil... then put in my own router as if it were "my pc" - double NAT would suck but it'd keep the "free access point" from working.

            • I've already set up the router/modem that my provider gave me like this. Instead of giving me a dumb cable modem, they gave me a modem/wireless router combo unit. The first thing I did was reconfigure the box to act as dumb bridge and used my own wireless router for the boxes in my house to connect to. The router they gave me didn't have sufficient capabilities to set up the QOS properly for my VOIP provider.

          • by faedle ( 114018 )

            I know at one cable company the way the "public" WiFi works it uses a separate DOCSIS stream, so it won't necessarily ever be "felt" by the customer. Now, I guess it will in aggregate (there's only so much pipe), but it is carried by a different stream than yours and has lower QoS priority, so in theory it shouldn't cause any issues to the subscriber.

            That being said, I have no idea who has set up the hotspot called "XFINITY" in my neighborhood with a fake Comcast splash page that captures names and passwor

        • and ip addresses, and actual uplink cables...

        • Have you heard of QoS?

        • by Lazere ( 2809091 )

          Hahahahahaha no...

      • by garyok ( 218493 )
        Also speaking as a BT customer with Infinity 2, I can ditch their router and plug in my own as long as it can do PPPoE. All my bits are belong to me.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      They'll just harass you anyway. Whaddya gonna do? Call the cops?

      • Bingo. The ISPs don't care who takes the heat, as long as they ISPs themselves aren't held liable for infringement.

    • A person is not an IP. If everybody puts up a guest network, we're done with this problem. Classic Prisoner's Dilemma though - I put one up but most of the commenters here are too chicken. I've got a VLAN for "Guest" so I can have AP's around the property, OpenWRT bridges an SSID to VLAN admirably, and pfSense [minimally] filters and shapes traffic effectively. I'm considering dropping off that traffic on a buck-a-month VPS over OpenVPN but haven't had the need yet (rural living).

      • Has nothing to do with being "chicken" and everything to do with being selfish in my case. I'm paying for this bandwidth, and I'm not giving any of it away. It's for me.

        A for your guest network I wouldn't use your public access point, because I don't know or trust you anyhow.

        Yes I could go to those lengths that you did to make things low impact, but why the fuck would I?

    • You're assuming too much.

      Between rollouts of carrier grade NAT, IPv6, and gateways which assign themselves multiple IP addresses for multiple subnetworks on different SSIDs, they can most definitely track upstream if the data is going to YOUR network, or THEIR public one.

      I capitalised the YOUR and THEIR bit because the differences is that they are in control of the configuration of the modem. You plug it in and it will setup the way they want it to.

      • And YOU sir are assuming cops will go to the extra trouble of finding out if it was on the public or private line instead of kicking down the door because that is where they think somebody surfing CP is. As we have seen in the past cops, hell even feds, really throw due diligence out the window when it comes to anything to do with CP, see the fed CP server that didn't capture referrers (making it perfect for scumbags to use as a nastier version of a rickroll) or the guy in FLA that the state went after for

        • And YOU sir are assuming cops will go to the extra trouble of finding out if it was on the public or private line instead of kicking down the door because that is where they think somebody surfing CP is

          Trouble? You're assuming cops do any work rather than just send a request to the ISP who pull it from their logs and call it a day. IP addresses aren't physical addresses. The ISP provides those as it is, nothing changes for the end users (end users being cops who put through a request for information), then they'll come and kick your door in.

    • Re:Conflicting goals (Score:5, Informative)

      by zarmanto ( 884704 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @01:56PM (#51389725) Journal

      How will ISPs help enforce copyright laws if they don't know who is using your router?

      Wouldn't that be a problem when your neighbor has child pr0n on his box?

      These are both misunderstandings based upon Juniper's misuse of the term "public wifi hotspot". These hotspots are not usually public, strictly speaking; they are only accessible to other customers of the internet provider, and each of those users have to log into the hotspot with their carrier provided account in order to use it. Thus, their network activity can (theoretically) be tracked back to them, based upon their login credentials.

      Another concern often voiced is the notion of random people taking up all of your bandwidth: This is addressed by the simple fact that the providers are all perfectly capable of serving significantly more bandwidth then the (insert-your bandwidth limit here) that you're paying for. However, what that doesn't address is collisions and QoS measures... so one or more customers of your provider, all connecting through your router for some weird reason, (such as a Superbowl party at your neighbor's house, for example) could theoretically establish so many simultaneous connections, as to make it seem like they've saturated all of your bandwidth... when really, they've just maxed out the thread count on the router. The solution to this scenario is not entirely intuitive -- but there is indeed a solution:

      First, don't assume that you can trust the configuration software on the provider's router. If they've decided that they want to use their hardware as a hotspot, they'll eventually figure out how to leave "public" access turned on, even if you attempt to turn wifi off entirely. So instead, just disconnect the wifi antenna from the provider's router. If the antenna is internal or otherwise cannot be physically disconnected, then just Faraday cage the heck out of that thing, with multiple layers of heavy duty aluminum foil and cardboard. Once you've verified that no wireless signals can reach the provider's router, you can safely configure (and properly secure) your own personal router, on the inside of your network.

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        The majority of users will never go that far. They rent/buy the router from the ISP and somewhere in the contract sign up for them to be allowed to do whatever they desire.

        So if you are going to do such a thing, first go over the fine print. Also be sure that you not want to use the service anywhere else, as that would make you a hypocrite.

        I just bought my own modem/router, connected it and there is no way they can get access in any legal way. It also means I have no access anywhere else and I am ok with th

        • The majority of users will never go that far. ...

          By the simple act of reading Slashdot, you've already placed yourself in the minority of users who are more likely to go that far. Know your audience; I specifically tailored my comment to this audience. But let's come back around to that at the end. First, I'd like to address this:

          ... So if you are going to do such a thing, first go over the fine print. Also be sure that you not want to use the service anywhere else, as that would make you a hypocrite. ...

          This is a judgement call. Personally, I don't think you can assume that someone is a hypocrite just because they take measures to reclaim the internet connection they paid for, even if that person does take advantage of the se

    • How will ISPs help enforce copyright laws if they don't know who is using your router?

      Presumably there's still a username / password login so that only customers of that ISP can use the service.

  • Wouldn't that be a problem when your neighbor has child pr0n on his box?

    • The public hotspot and private network will be separate (though whether it gets a separate IP is another thing). Your secret stash is safe.

  • No Thanks (Score:4, Informative)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @01:00PM (#51389021)

    Even if the telecoms are not counting the public hotspot use against my caps, it could impact the performance of my network.

    But mainly, it's the desire not to attract certain elements [publicbroadcasting.net] into my neighborhood who depend on free services. I wish I could find a pic of the hobo sitting in front of his tent in the 'Seattle Jungle' camp pecking away at his Apple laptop. Probably mooching off a local business' unsecured WiFi. It was run on the local news during a report on some recent drug murders there.

    • a) What are data caps? Is that still a thing in the modern western world?
      b) Have you heard of QoS? You can quite easily setup a network to give priority packets to one connection, that is significantly easier to do than actually filter it by content. Any 10 year old script kiddy should be able to configure a router in a way that your max connection speed is maintained when the connection is shared. The other user's may not but then they don't have such guarantees.

      • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

        What are data caps? Is that still a thing in the modern western world?

        In the US they are. You either have the obvious, advertised data cap, or else you have an invisible cap where the ISP starts messing with your connection speed without telling you. One way out of that mess is not to use the large carriers, but they have municipal-granted monopolies or duopolies in most areas. If you're lucky enough to have FiOS or better yet a local ISP with a huge pipe, you can be in a pretty good position. Not a lot of people have that sort of thing as an option.

        b) Have you heard of QoS? You can quite easily setup a network to give priority packets to one connection, that is significantly easier to do than actually filter it by content. Any 10 year old script kiddy should be able to configure a router in a way that your max connection speed is maintained when the connection is shared. The other user's may not but then they don't have such guarantees.

        QoS is beyond the abilitie

        • QoS is beyond the abilities of many home Internet users, especially because in many cases you'd have to use your own router.

          Okay let me stop you right there. None of this is in control of the user of these devices. What typically happens is you connect your modem / router to the cable, it connects based on your address and bam a configuration change happens doing all sorts of wonderful things like enabling / disabling IPv6, or enabling / disabling port forwarding (e.g. since there's no need to port forward if you're behind a CGNAS box since you don't have a public IP). The ISP is in control of most of the settings, and very few

    • The real reason it's a load of shit is because if they have the spare bandwidth to provide hotspot services without impacting my network performance, that means they could use that bandwidth to provide me with better service. But they don't.
    • Re:No Thanks (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @03:43PM (#51390817) Homepage

      Even if the telecoms are not counting the public hotspot use against my caps, it could impact the performance of my network.

      But mainly, it's the desire not to attract certain elements [publicbroadcasting.net] into my neighborhood who depend on free services. I wish I could find a pic of the hobo sitting in front of his tent in the 'Seattle Jungle' camp pecking away at his Apple laptop. Probably mooching off a local business' unsecured WiFi. It was run on the local news during a report on some recent drug murders there.

      In our case, we used to have random folks hanging out on the curb near our house (sometimes late at night playing loud music), then I took a bat to my "xfinitywifi" cable modem/router, and bought a device that did not have wifi capabilities.
      I still saw the "xfinitywifi" and people still randomly parked in front of my house.
      I told my neighbors who are also annoyed by these interlopers, we all replaced our modems... and now no more jerks in our neighborhood (for the past several months) - and bonus - no rental fee for each of our cable subscriptions.

  • by Yonder Way ( 603108 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @01:00PM (#51389025)

    1. Use your own modem. Your ISP should have a hardware compatibility list. Pick a model off of that list and you're good to go. I ended up picking one with no internal WiFi capabilities, because I had something better in mind.
    2. I can't speak highly enough about the combination of a pfSense based router (I run mine on Netgate hardware) and Ubiquiti UniFi wireless equipment. I've got access points at opposite ends of my property to blanket the whole house and yard with WiFi coverage and it works very well. The AP's work cooperatively together, and I've been able to get creative about how I provide guest networking with this combination.

    • by creimer ( 824291 )

      Use your own modem.

      Years ago I had the default DSL modem that suddenly died after year of service. So I bought a business-class DSL modem that cost twice as much, had a much better features and actual throughput was much faster. Quite useful when I was working from home one day a week.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      In my country (Europe, NL) there are several providers doing this, with several approaches. Most providers lock their users in to only their own network. Only one provider uses the FON service and allows international advantage of sharing your wifi.

      In practice however it's not only gold that shines. For example, location of the router: indoor and outdoor use prefer totally conflicting places for the router. If it can be relocated at all. Apart that, most if not all routers from the telco's are cheap shitty

  • My roommate has Comcast and we're debating whether or not to replace the Comcast router with a non-Comcast router. Mostly because the routers that Comcast provide have minimal features. Also because Comcast could turn on the community hotspot, which may or may not be using the bandwidth we are paying for.
    • My roommate has Comcast and we're debating whether or not to replace the Comcast router with a non-Comcast router. Mostly because the routers that Comcast provide have minimal features. Also because Comcast could turn on the community hotspot, which may or may not be using the bandwidth we are paying for.

      The other benefit you're going to get is that you'll reduce your bill by $10 a month.

      • by creimer ( 824291 )

        The other benefit you're going to get is that you'll reduce your bill by $10 a month.

        My roommate won't discuss the monthly bill. I'm perfectly content with paying $20 per month for DSL service. But my roommate is speed maniac and pays for the privilege go into plaid.

  • And comcrap will make you pay to rent them with you having to cover the power bill as well.

  • FTFA :-

    the research highlighted the consumer benefits

    This benefits the owner of the router how exactly?

    • by LQ ( 188043 )

      FTFA :-

      the research highlighted the consumer benefits

      This benefits the owner of the router how exactly?

      RTFA: "Nevertheless, the research highlighted the consumer benefits that the policy offers, such as free or reduced-fee access to the operator’s homespot network."

    • The only benefit I can see here is increased availability of wifi in public places could put pressure on mobile phone companies to keep their data plan pricing more attractive. And that's a maybe.
    • The "consumer" is defined as people who want the wifi, the people whose power bill is being leeched off .. well, tough.

      Don't you know corporate profits and business models trump having everyone else pay for their infrastructure?

      Socialize the costs, privatize the profits.

      • The "consumer" is defined as people who want the wifi, the people whose power bill is being leeched off .. well, tough.

        I would think that a lot of people belong to both these categories - you spend a lot of time at home, but sometimes you travel to other places where pain-free WiFi would be useful. However, most posters here seem to be saying these two sets are totally disjoint.

    • Well there is an indirect benefit of other all the other hotspots. If you allready using the wifi there is no additional costs or burden. If your not using the wifi why didn't you ask to have it turned off or done the sane thing and bought your own cable modem?

    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @01:33PM (#51389377)

      This benefits the owner of the router how exactly?

      In a competitive market, it would mean lower prices.

      In a monopolistic market, it doesn't matter if the customer benefits, because the customer doesn't have any choice.

    • Well, depends on the terms. They can give you reduce rates and reciprocal privileges.
    • by Shatrat ( 855151 )

      The service provider owns the router.

  • Time to rearrange some wires!
  • Good luck trying that in bridge mode, scumbags.
  • My Comcast modem has wifi turned on. A year or two ago, I read that this could be turned off by changing a setting at Comcast's site. I cannot find that option. Does it still exist?

    BTW - I would like to replace their modem, but I also get my phone service through it. I am starting to explore VOIP phone services such as Magicjack. (I want to keep my old phone number and be able to use my fax.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      don't depend on the Comcast interface to do the job, logon to the router directly and do it at that level. those directions should be in some of the docs you got for the router.

      • by Hrrrg ( 565259 )

        don't depend on the Comcast interface to do the job, logon to the router directly and do it at that level. those directions should be in some of the docs you got for the router.

        I should have said - there does not appear to be any way to turn off Wifi even when logging into the router directly.

      • by jtmach ( 958490 )
        They disable the setting on the device and make you do it through there website, where it takes up to 24 hours I believe to change.
        • by Hrrrg ( 565259 )

          They disable the setting on the device and make you do it through there website, where it takes up to 24 hours I believe to change.

          That's what I thought, but I cannot find it on their website. Is it still there?

    • by crow ( 16139 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @02:33PM (#51390129) Homepage Journal

      For phone services, I would suggest looking into an OBi100 or similar device. http://www.amazon.com/OBi100-T... [amazon.com]

      This is similar hardware to Magicjack, but it works with whatever VoIP provider you choose.

      I'm with voip.ms, which is $.01/minute billed in 6-second increments for all calls (in and out). There's an extra $1/month, plus another $1/month for 911 service. If you want caller ID names, it's an extra $.01/call, but only if it's not in the contacts you set up on their web page. There is a fee for porting numbers.

      Another option is Google Voice. All calls (US/Canada) are free, but there's no caller ID names, even from your Google Contacts. Also, Google only lets you port mobile numbers, not land-line numbers, but people have managed to do it by first porting their cell phone to a prepaid cell. (I have our outgoing calls set to a Google Voice number, which can be a bit confusing for people.)

  • So when these companies tell you "ok you have to take our DSL modem/router" do they tell the customers that they're offering their bandwidth publicly? Do you as a customer get a discount?

    Is there a security issue, say, if you have a home LAN with people publicly accessing your router?

    Personally, unless there's a substantial discount, I'll do everything in my power from pringles-can antenna to simply removing the antennas and running cables to low-power WAPs (deep in the center of my home, far from my prope

  • by Anonymous Coward

    IoT + universal wifi = Privacy Nightmare

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @01:33PM (#51389379)

    Seriously I just can't see it ever happening other than by it being forced on broadband customers, or it being the default setting on all routers and there being enough ignorant owners who don't know to turn it off.(kinda like the "all computers come with windows" model).

    Even on routers that segregate wifi clients outside the LAN firewall, the charming person sitting in their car outside your house and surfing child porn sites is still doing so through your IP address. Good luck trying to explain that to the technically clueless judge.

    Also the first time your netflix movie is laggy or you keep dying in your favourite online FPS because someone across the street is free-loading a significant chunk of your bandwidth is when you will turn off public access and leave it off.

  • I've been running open WiFi for over a decade now, and I don't mean to stop. And the load is very low, by the way; I've only had one problem and was able to resolve that very quickly.

    But if my connection is going to be loaded in any way by random people, I'll be damned if my ISP is going to get paid for it. I already pay them for that bandwidth.

    Not that I'd ever use those particular ISPs anyway... one reason being that their contracts tend to try to tell me I can't run open WiFi.

  • Not Comcast (Score:2, Informative)

    by jgotts ( 2785 )

    As a few others have said, Comcast home routers cannot be considered public Wi-Fi hotspots in any way, shape, or form. They're private Wi-Fi hotspots for Comcast residential customers only. If this is what the article says, then the author is misinformed.

  • This is my biggest gripe with this kind of "plan". It's bad enough that the city sold access to an ISP to blanket the city with 802.11 (which they do on multiple channels), adding in wireline providers doing it everywhere will just reduce the usability of wireless for everyone by polluting the spectrum.

  • by evilRhino ( 638506 ) on Thursday January 28, 2016 @03:39PM (#51390767)
    I've seen quite a few xfinity wifi spots around, but in order to use them they require my Comcast credentials. I never use them because I'm not sure if it's honeypot built to steal my credentials. I could install an app to confirm if the hotspot is real, but doing so requires giving Comcast invasive permission to access data on my phone.
    • I've seen quite a few xfinity wifi spots around, but in order to use them they require my Comcast credentials. I never use them because I'm not sure if it's honeypot built to steal my credentials. I could install an app to confirm if the hotspot is real, but doing so requires giving Comcast invasive permission to access data on my phone.

      Gee, who'd setup a hotspot called xfinitywifi with no logon required just to sniff the traffic that comes across it? or use it for a man in the middle attack?

  • Because if not, then fuck off.
  • My WiFi/router is in my basement. I get a great signal throughout the house, even on the second floor. The signal on the back deck is a bit lower, but still fine for streaming music during a party. It drops to zero by the edge of the yard. No curbside surfing for you: Can't Haz!

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