What’s this xfinitywifi network and why do I keep connecting?

If you often tinker with your Wi-Fi network settings, no doubt you’ve seen the xfinitywifi network popping up as an available option. And it might drive you crazy because your devices keep connecting and you can’t get on the internet. So here is how you can either take advantage of the network or get rid of it.

But first, a little background. The xfinitywifi network is a huge Wi-Fi network created by Comcast using their own customer-rented routers as nodes on this network. If you’re a Comcast customer this can be a huge perk, especially if you spend much time in the city and don’t want to use mobile hotspot data. If you are a Comcast customer you can just hop on one of these and log in with your Comcast credentials to get on the Internet. And if you have one of the Xfinity Gateways at home (the shiny black upright boxes), you are hosting part of the xfinitywifi network yourself. But if you are here is why you shouldn’t worry about that detail:

  • You won’t be liable for any illegal activity by others because people are logged in with their credentials and Comcast knows who they are.
  • Users aren’t reducing your internet speed any more than a new neighbor signing up for Comcast. The technical capability of their cable network is far faster than the speed Comcast doles out to you, since you pay for a throttled speed tier. The xfinitywifi network users aren’t  included in  your throttled speed.

So if you’re a Comcast Xfinity customer, go ahead and log in using your the same Comcast login information you would use to access your bills online. As you travel around, anytime your devices see this network they will pick it up automatically.

I’m not a Comcast customer, but my devices keep connecting.

UPDATE: iOS 11 and macOS Mojave introduced a feature that may be even better than the steps below. You can now choose to not automatically connect to the network even though it’s remembered. That way you need to explicitly choose it each time you want to connect, preventing it from being added to your network list again in the future. The drawback is that you will need to do this on each device. On iOS the info pane will give you an option you can turn off called “Auto Join”. On Mac you can just uncheck the box next to the network you no longer want to connect to automatically.

At some point in the past you likely clicked on the network, drawn in by the lack of a padlock icon on the WiFi list. Unfortunately, your device will keep trying to connect until you:

  • iOS:
    1. While in range of the xfinitywifi network, tap Settings > Wi-Fi.
    2. Tap the (i) to the right of the xfinitywifi network.
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    3. Tap “Forget this network”
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  • macOS:
    1. Click your Wi-Fi icon in the top right corner of the screen. 
      WiFI icon
    2. At the bottom, below your Wi-Fi list click “Network Preferences”.
    3. Click Wi-Fi in your left column of network connections if it isn’t already selected.
    4. Click “Advanced” in the bottom right corner.
    5. Scroll through the list and locate the “xfinitywifi” network and click it to highlight (you can click any random item to activate the box and start typing xfini…).
    6. When xfinitywifi is highlighted click the minus button below the list. Click OK and close the window.
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    7. Click OK.
    8. Click Apply.
    9. Close the window.

I am a Comcast customer, but my device keeps defaulting to xfinitywifi instead of my home network.

This can be a problem because the xfinitywifi network is not going to be as fast as your regular home network and because it’s isolated from your home network you won’t be able to access other devices such as printers. But the fix is pretty easy. It won’t guarantee that you’ll always connect to the right one, but this will make it much less likely.

  • iOS: iOS devices always connect to the known visible network with the highest level of security. So it should not connect to the unprotected xfinitywifi network if a protected network with a saved password is available. So you probably need reconfigure your network with WPA or WPA2 encryption if it doesn’t have that already. Specific instructions will vary depending on your router model and configuration. WEP encryption would do the job too, but WEP encryption is obsolete and very insecure so you should always choose WPA or (preferably) WPA2.
  • macOS. Macs always run down a list in a set order of known networks. Once it hits one it hangs on and doesn’t let go until manually changed or the connection gets too weak. Occasionally it misses one it should connect to, maybe because it didn’t respond quickly enough, but it normally gets it right. Here’s how to edit the preference order:
    1. Click your Wi-Fi icon in the top right corner of the screen. 
      WiFI icon
    2. At the bottom, below your Wi-Fi list click “Network Preferences”.
    3. Click Wi-Fi in your left column of network connections if it isn’t already selected.
    4. Click “Advanced” in the bottom right corner.
    5. Scroll through the list and locate the xfinitywifi network (you can click one of the items and start typing xfini…).
    6. Drag the xfinitywifi network to the bottom of the list.
    7. Click OK
    8. Click Apply.
    9. Close the window