You may be asking "Can WiFi be truly
free?" Well... this depends on what "free" means to you. You may end
up having to drive to a place that offers free WiFi or you may need
to purchase a long range WiFi Antenna
like this one. This article explains how
to get WiFi internet without paying an internet provider for it, but
does not take into account your time spent, equipment cost, gas
can do at a Free WiFi Hotspot
This internet will function much like
your regular internet with the exception that it may be "locked
down" for your protection. Some free WiFi hotspots will disable your
ability to use email or view offensive or secure web sites. These
restrictions are determined at the discretion of the owner of the
site. Restrictions aside, you should be able to listen to internet
radio, browse or surf the web, download files, and chat with
The best places to check for free WiFi are locations where the
general public is welcome. Plazas, convention centers, sports
centers, bookstores, supermarkets, cafes, coffee shops, libraries,
colleges, universities & surrounding areas, hotels, motels resorts,
RV parks, town hall, vacation rentals, and restaurants are some good
places to check for free WiFi internet.
Local Library - Unlike most other WiFi hotspots,
libraries exist to further your education and communications
abilities, whereas most businesses are trying to lure you into
buying something by offering free WiFi. Remember, it is not
truly free if you have to buy something first.
Parks and Plazas - In an effort to attract more people to
parks, many cities are offering free wifi in the park. Parks
host many events such as concerts, carnivals, other special
events where Wifi internet access is becoming a necessity. Easy
to access and open to all, the park a great place to get
Starbuck Coffee Stores (company-owned) - There are no
sign-up agreements to accept or time usage limitations to worry
about. With cozy couches and chairs, along with plug-in outlets
for your laptop, Starbucks Coffee is one of our top choices for
McDonalds - is now offering free WiFi to their
customers at more than 11,500 participating restaurants. To get
connected, you must use the network called "Wayport_Access" from
the available networks list on your device. After opening your
internet browser you must agree to McDonalds terms before
connecting. Devices that do not have an Internet browser, like a
WiFi Internet Radio, will not be able to connect for this
reason. Find a participating McDonald’s Wi-Fi Hotspot near you
Other Notable locations are:
- Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream
FedEx Shipping Offices (more
- Almost any nearby hotel or RV park
The Internet provides a rich field of
useful free programs and sites that help you locate your nearest
free WiFi hotspot. You can try entering the key words "free + local
+ wifi + hotspots" into Google for the best results. Adding the key
word "software" to the search will give you results on programs that
you can use without an Internet connection.
- Listed below are some helpful tools from
the internet for finding free Wifi.
Choose sites that are using
"Infrastructure" mode. Beware of sites that use "Ad hoc" or
"person to person" mode, as they might be a trap setup by
someone nearby with a laptop. This person may be attempting to
access your private files such as pictures and credit card
If you are using the free hotspot to
do banking or private credit card transactions, then we
recommend that you setup a VPN network. This will give you a
layer of protection. There is also special hotspot software on
the internet that you can use for added protection. Basically a
good rule of thumb is to not do anything on the internet that
you would not mind doing with a stranger looking over your
shoulder. It is possible, with enough effort, for the owner of
the hotspot to view all information that is sent and received
over their network.
Some free WiFi hotspots will block
email and various web sites. The owner of the hotspot will
determine its parameters. Most every hotspot will be setup a
Unfortunately, most free WiFi
hotspots do not offer tech support if you have trouble
connecting. This is why it is free. Free WiFi is usually just
another way to attract people and is not a real priority to most
businesses that offer it. If you need help, it is unlikely that
common workers will know how to answer your question. Consider
the free WiFi "As-Is" and nothing more. It is hard to get your
money back when the service is free.
Be courteous. If you are taking up
limited table space and not purchasing anything then it is best
to limit your usage. It is best to buy a coffee or fulfill the
minimum requirements for being customer. Some business will give
you the "boot" for repeat loitering while using their free WiFi.
Come prepared. Charge you laptop
fully before venturing to a public free WiFi hotspot. Most
hotspots don't have wall outlets for plugging into power. This
helps businesses avoid customers that loiter too long.
If you have a friend or a neighbor who has broadband internet
within line of sight from your home, then you may be able to get
free WiFi Internet access. You will need to ask permission to use
their internet before proceeding. If all is ok, then your task will
be to make a WiFi connection to their router.
The easiest way might be to simply sit
outside your house with your laptop and see if you can pick-up their
WiFi. I recommend using your laptop outside because your reception
will be much stronger if you don't have to receive it through your
home walls. You will need to be positioned with line of sight to
their house. WiFi is not like AM and FM whereas it doesn't pass
through objects well.
If you still aren't able to receive the
WiFi signal, have your neighbor position their router in a window
that faces the direction of your house. This will eliminate one or
more walls on their end and increase your WiFi signal several fold.
Be sure that the routers antennas are facing straight up. If this
still does not work for you then you will need to consider upgrading
your WiFi signal with a more powerful antenna. You can add a more
powerful antenna to their router or to your computer for better
reception, or to both for best reception. I suggest using a
USB antenna at first to see if you can boost your laptop
reception. If this does not work then you may need to go for a
WiFi bridge setup.
Connecting to a free WiFi hotspot from your home
If there is a free WiFi hotspot down the
street from your home then it may be possible that you can get
connected; depending on far "down the street" really is. You will
need a high power WiFi antenna that should be placed in the window
or outside facing the hotspot. Obstructions, traffic, and weather
conditions will affect your signal strength and thus affect your
internet browsing speed.
Be aware that some free WiFi hotspot
owners will reduce their WiFi signal strength so that it only covers
the inside of their business. It will be very difficult to connect
to these hotspots and you may need a very big outdoor antenna to
acquire even a faint signal.
Also be aware that the owner of the
hotspot will be able to see stats on how many people are connecting
to their hotspot. They will be able to see your hardware address
(MAC address) and computer name and determine how long you've been
connected. It is possible that the owner can block someone from
connecting in the future if they determine that the person is using
too much bandwidth (or for any reason).
If you are connecting to someone's home
WiFi connection without asking (otherwise called "piggybacking" or
"mooching"), then it may be considered illegal in some states. Even
though unencrypted home WiFi networks have the same "look and feel"
of a real WiFi hotspot network, they usually are not intended for
public access. Always ask for permission before connecting to
these types of networks.
Some may say that if the owner of the
unencrypted home WiFi network does not encrypt their network, then
they probably don't care who uses it. This is not always the case.
When a new WiFi router or access point is purchased from the store,
it comes unencrypted by factory settings and usually carries a
network name like "Linksys" or "Netgear". Because the owner of
the newly purchased router is able to access the internet before
setting up the router, they may not realize their unconfigured WiFi
networks vulnerability. Basically, it is still trespassing to go
into someone's yard, even if they forgot to shut the gate.
Some cities like Mt. View, CA (the home
of Google) offers free WiFi to all their residents. Other cities
have setup free WiFi in densely populated commercial zones only. For
a list of cities that offer free municipal WiFi click
Umm, this may happen in the future, but
for now check out what Google is working on