Effective September 16, 2020, Comcast.net email users will see an added security checkbox in their Xfinity Connect email settings allowing them to enable/disable access to third-party email clients. Allowing access by third-party email clients (e.g., Outlook, Google, Apple Mail, Thunderbird, etc.), could expose the customer’s Xfinity ID and password to fraud and other risks, including the potential for external programs to read, download and delete emails on the customer’s behalf.
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Thank you for pointing this out. Checking the appropriate box is definitely necessary for third-party email clients to interact with Comcast's mail servers.
However, unfortunately, checking the appropriate box does not resolve connectivity issues that a number of us (who have previously checked that box) have been experiencing. There are a number of recent threads in this forum which describe such issues. They span various Operating Systems and various email clients.
So, checking the appropriate box is certainly necessary, but, in and of itself, checking that box will not necessarily result in issue-free interaction with the Comcast mail servers.
Thank you JJMcVeigh for following the Comcast email access issue - and helping us keep up with possible causes and the solutions that have worked for some people.
I started one of the threads you listed above. Finding a solution was particularly tricky for me because I am no longer an Xfinity paying customer, just a longtime Comcast customer and continued user of a Comcast email address. It is understandable that I am not entitled to Comcast technical support. Those people have to be paid.
I have to say that Comcast pleasantly surprised me two days ago. They really came through. I filled out a web form to send a general compliment/complaint message to the office of Tom Karinshak. Within 24 hours my message had been forwarded to a customer service executive team, and I got a call on November 12 from a great guy (Steve) from the Xfinity security office. He said he was not an expert with email applications but could take a look at my account and what was happening when requests sere hitting the POP and SMTP servers. He said all of my email account settings were correct and should work, and my account was definitely not blocked. I was still getting the same errors when he watched the traffic but he saw nothing abnormal. That suggests to me that the requests weren't getting there. I always got the error message saying that a connection could not be made with the server "using the security protocol" I had specified. Of course, the protocol I specified was correct (SSL/TLS).
After speaking with Steve for an hour, and going through every possible theory and course of action, I had decided to try removing my email account from Outlook and creating one from scratch using IMAP rather than POP. I am glad I didn't do that now, because I was seeing the same error for the SMTP connection that I saw for the POP connection. In any event, my connection problems auto-magically went away as of 8:00 pm Eastern Time on November 12. We have not experienced a single error since in Outlook for either of our Comcast email accounts.
It sounds like the problem was environmental in my case. What the means specifically gets into the realm of networking and security, where my lack of knowledge could be a dangerous thing. But maybe it's safe to say that one of two things must have been happening from a black box view. Either my requests could not get to the middleware that talks to the email servers, or the requests were getting there and they were rejected. The second seems unlikely because surely the rejections would have been visible to Steve, who was looking at the Comcast logs. I do know from working with hosted applications of my former company (retired one year ago) that sometimes TCP/IP routes can go down from one endpoint to another. Although the protocol is designed to guarantee alternative routing of data packets, it doesn't necessarily work that way in real life.
So, bottom line, I think I was probably the victim of a temporary outage in reaching Comcast servers from my specific location.
The most frustrating aspect of the situation is that the delays come and go, without me making changes in my email client's settings. Yesterday morning, the handshaking was very slow. Then, in the afternoon, the handshaking suddenly became very snappy. This morning, the handshaking is back to slow again. Between yesterday morning and today, I have made no changes to my email client's settings.
Some time ago... perhaps two weeks ago, I tried making some changes related to STARTTLS and SSL, and the problem seemed to go away. However, the handshaking delays returned, even though I had made no subsequent changes. Since then, the delays have come and gone, such as I have described in the previous paragraph.
If I am not making any changes on my side of my cable modem, and if the problem comes and goes, then common sense tells me that whatever is causing these problems is happening on Comcast's side of my cable modem, and not on my side.
I am glad that the Comcast employee took an interest in your situation, and I hope that you continue to experience good connectivity and throughput.