It's a matter of trust
Our household is a Comcast customer. We have no choice. They are the only cable franchise allowed in the city; their municipal contract assures a monopoly position. So going to another provider is not an option. This is America, not the land of free choice.
We were informed a few months ago that Comcast would provide a new cable modem/wifi router combination device. The email contained a link for further information. After I clicked that link to investigate the offer, I was startled to see that merely by clicking that link, we had "authorized" the Comcast equipment. I was able to find no other information on their website, except a promise of "greater customer satisfaction" and "increased speed potential," etc. etc.
I chased down a private contractor who installs Comcast cable service; he offered that an upgraded cable modem was necessary due to new protocol requirements, but he knew little about the built-in wifi router side of it.
Being untrusting, I bought a new Motorola cable modem and installed it, while retaining our existing TP-Link wifi router. The Comcast package arrived, was opened and inspected, and set aside. If Comcast wants it back, they can send someone to pick it up.
The issue of the Comcast wi-fi hotspot provided through their "free" equipment was never mentioned; no authorization obtained; and nothing was said in the literature accompanying the equipment package. We knew nothing of this issue until this Register article popped up this evening.
As I told my wife as we shopped for a new cable modem at WalMart: "It's a $70+ purchase, but we'll own it, they can't lease it back to us, and more importantly ... I simply cannot trust them!" For once, I can grin at my wife and say, "See? I told you ... we can't trust those bastards!"