Comcast is making life a little easier for spectators participating in Friday’s presidential inauguration. That might make President-elect Donald Trump a little less grumpy about the company. But maybe not for long.
In a news blurt dished on Tuesday, Comcast announced that it is opening up free access to 6,800 Xfinity WiFi hot spots in Washington, D.C. to the one million people expected to witness the swearing in of office. Even people who aren’t Comcast customers will be able to connect for no charge.
The rub for Trump – who has threatened to “review” the Comcast-NBC Universal marriage and hates the mocking on NBC’s Saturday Night Live — is that the free WiFi offering will continue through the weekend. So participants in Trump protests — most notably Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington — will also be able to tweet their rallying cries and post their images. Sad!
And Comcast is hardly venturing out on that limb alone. Wireless carriers AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and U.S Cellular have also pledged to provide boosted wireless capacity in the nation’s capital for the entire inauguration weekend, after goading from the “digital rights” activist group Access Now.
“These actions are a welcome, pro-active step by mobile carriers to protect their users and mitigate threats to free expression at an important moment in a democracy,” the group declared. “Our work fighting internet shutdowns has shown that political events like elections and inaugurations are common targets for disruptions and government surveillance, that can lead to the abuse of fundamental rights, like the rights to free expression and peaceful assembly.”