Comcast has been offering free public Wi-Fi access for a couple of months now, ever since the first coronavirus wave was still making the rounds throughout the U.S. Today, the company announced the relief effort will continue until at least the end of the year. Which was to be expected. What may take some by surprise, however, is that random Wi-Fi hotspots are something Comcast is technically selling when less apocalyptic circumstances allow it to do so.

Well, kind of; most people know better than to pay for the privilege of having their private data harvested by Comcast’s management who just figured out what Google was talking about in 1996 when it claimed its billion-dollar idea was to charge no money for Internet services, at all. Unfortunately, as a cable-giant-turned-Internet-entertainment-conglomerate that’s fast-approaching 60, Comcast isn’t that agile, so its idea of added value was to offer existing customers access to 1.5 million public hotspots around the country free of charge while claiming some suckers somewhere are actually paying to be spied on while waiting for a train.

Comcast can’t force itself to act decently even when it forces itself to act decently

Cynicism aside, anything that makes Internet more accessible in these trying times is a net positive for society, especially the upcoming Wi-Fi 6 technology, but Comcast is the last company we should be celebrating for showing remote traces of humanity in a way that actually doesn’t really cost it anything extra, the costs of keeping 1.5 million routers operational are pretty much the same regardless of network usage.

Oh yeah, and as can clearly be read from Comcast’s official announcement detailing its latest noble act, it’s actually using the move to hunt for new Xfinity Mobile customers. Not that an entrepreneurial spirit is a crime in a country that’s by far the biggest testament to the magic of capitalism, but since it’s Comcast we’re talking about here, hypocrisy is a preferable alternative to saying anything positive about a company responsible for holding U.S. Internet hostage for decades.

So, just make sure you have a VPN app on hand for any scenario in which you might have to access the Internet over Comcast’s infrastructure.