You’ll find free Wi-Fi everywhere you go. Here’s How


This is part of the story Home TipsCNET’s collection of practical tips for getting the most out of your home and inside.

In today’s world, it is almost impossible to live without it strong internet connection. we learn online, work from home on laptops and entertain ourselves with our favorite shows and movies about streaming services. Stable Wi-Fi is very important every day.

So what happens when you’re outside, when you’re away from yourself home Wi-Fi? Or if you have home internet it’s not that fast in the first place?

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In this guide, we will give you a quick overview of how to get online quickly using a hotspot, and how to find free Wi-Fi anywhere in the world. (You can learn too How to determine if Wi-Fi is slow due to Internet throttling, How to speed up Wi-Fi and our choices the best VPNs.)

What is a hotspot?

A hotspot is a central location or device that offers wireless access to the Internet, and any network device can connect as long as it has the right access. Depending on your mobile provider and plan, you can use your mobile carrier smartphone as a hotspot.

There are two different hotspots: public and private.

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In the scenario above, where you pay your mobile provider for the ability to create a hotspot with your smartphone, the smartphone is the physical device that creates wireless access for other Wi-Fi-connected devices, such as laptops, desktops, and streaming devices. . This is an example of a private hotspot.

A public hotspot is usually created by a business to provide internet service when visitors, customers and clients are on site. Many free, public Wi-Fi connections are hotspots. But for accuracy, it is important to note the difference between standard Wi-Fi and a hotspot.

What is the difference between Wi-Fi and hotspot?

While hotspots are a physical location or device, Wi-Fi is a wireless technology that devices can use to send data to each other. If you have Wi-Fi at home, it’s because you have a Wi-Fi router that supports all your wireless gadgets and an internet service provider that connects that router to the internet.

As long as you set a strong password, a private Wi-Fi network like this will be more secure than a public hotspot because you control who and what connects to it. On the other hand, public hotspots are open to anyone within range, so it’s a good idea to use them. VPN or another safety measure if you need to do something sensitive like make a purchase or send money.

Read more: How to save up to $75 a month on your internet bill

A Telstra technician installs a public Wi-Fi hotspot with 5G

A hotspot is a central location or device that offers wireless access to the Internet.

Brad Wagner/Telstra

How to find free Wi-Fi or free public hotspots

This probably won’t be possible at home (unless you live really close to someone with an unsecured network), coffee shops, libraries, hotels, restaurants, fitness centers, etc.

If you’re about to head out for free internet browsing for the day, here are some useful apps to try:

Apps like this will show you a map of your area with a list of free public Wi-Fi or available hotspots. Most will also allow you to track access requests and hotspot reviews.

Some places, like libraries, generally provide free public Wi-Fi, but unless you’re using a Wi-Fi finder app, it’s a good idea to call first to make sure.

How to set up and use free Wi-Fi

Make sure the device you plan to use has Wi-Fi. If so, make sure Wi-Fi is turned on.

Once you arrive at the location where you will be using public Wi-Fi or a hotspot, open a browser and then either open your computer’s network settings or click the Wi-Fi icon on your screen. Next, select the public Wi-Fi connection you want to use. If the connection is public, you will be connected now, but watch the connection site appear in your browser. Some businesses require you to agree to their terms of service or provide an email address before allowing you to use their free Wi-Fi.

Some businesses provide their customers with a login and password and offer a secure network. If the connection you intend to use seems secure, look for the login and password posted by the business, or ask someone for help. Yes, if you’re at a place like a coffee shop, it would be polite to get a cookie or a cup of joe while you’re there.

If you have set your computer to automatically connect to existing networks, the next time you visit that business, your computer will automatically connect to their network.

htc 5g hotspot device

This hotspot device from HTC uses the included 5G connection to provide Wi-Fi internet access for nearby wireless devices.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

How to set up and use a personal hotspot

They’re not free, but if you need an internet connection at home and have a good mobile signal, a paid hotspot might be the place to turn. For example, maybe you live together rural area with limited ISP optionsor maybe internet plans in your area are out of your budget.

Depending on your mobile provider and the plan you pay for, you may already have personal hotspot capabilities. If not, talk to your provider to determine how much they will charge you for this option. If you’re looking for unlimited data, be prepared to pay more.

After considering the cost, you need to decide between using your smartphone as a hotspot or buying a dedicated Wi-Fi hotspot device.

Check your phone settings for hotspot capabilities.

Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

Should I use my smartphone or a separate hotspot device?

A hotspot device will be considered a separate device on your mobile plan, with a separate data limit. The downside is the extra cost, but the upside is that using a smartphone means you don’t have to worry about eating up your hotspot data. Another positive: if you set a strong password, using a hotspot device to get online is just as secure as any Wi-Fi connection provided by your ISP, and it will often provide greater coverage as well. We also have a growing number of full-fledged Wi-Fi routers and mesh routers It is designed to receive incoming signals over a cellular connection such as LTE 5G.

Both smartphone hotspots and dedicated hotspot devices can be used anywhere, although it may be more convenient to use a smartphone hotspot in public, especially if you’re trying to keep your laptop online for a few minutes.

What Wi-Fi options does my ISP offer?

In 2020, the Federal Communications Commission created the Keep Americans Connected initiative to help people maintain their broadband Internet and phone connections during the pandemic. In addition, providers like it Comcast Extended free public Wi-Fi for everyone (customers and non-customers) throughout 2020. Many providers have a wide range of benefits like this — if you’re struggling, it’s worth checking with providers in your area to see what your options are.

Regardless of which avenue you choose, the bottom line is that you probably have more ways to get online than you realize. We hope this guide helps you find them and take advantage of them — in the meantime, here’s some additional reading you might find helpful:



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