Today I was waiting for the internet to be hooked up at my new place. In the meanwhile I tried out xfinity’s one hour complimentary wifi. Normally you should get an xfinity account and pay to use this service that is available in many places in each city in the US. As far as I know any home or business that has xfinity internet acts as a public hotspot for other users to connect to and use the internet. And that’s why they have such a good wifi coverage.
Back to my story, after my hour was finished, I was prompted with the same wifi login page, but this time the complimentary option was gone and I had to sign up and pay. Bummer! I tried changing the mac address on my laptop and restarting the wifi connection and voila! I could use the complimentary hour again… and again. It was a bit annoying since every hour you need to change your mac and fill a sign up form. That process can easily be automated to get free internet but I didn’t do it. Firstly because it is stealing. Second, it is nice to have this loophole. If it becomes too widely known, Comcast will make it harder to get the complimentary hour. Maybe require a phone number and confirmation. Trust me it is not hard for them to do it. I think they have been nice about it and we should be nice to them as well.
How to do it
On Ubuntu Linux it is possible through NetworkManager UI or by editing the config file for that wifi (located under /etc/NetworkManager/system-connections/). Look for `cloned-mac-address` under the [wifi] section or add it if it doesn’t exist.
On Windows and Mac you will probably need a mac changer application. I’ll leave you to figure it out.
I wrote a small script to change the mac address automatically. Tested only on my laptop but should work on any Linux distro that uses NetworkManager.