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‘Free Wi-Fi’

Now if these two words aren’t music to your ears, then don’t know what’ll be. A free Wi-Fi hotspot is a godsend. We’ll take you there with the help of a quick scenario – as usual – so let’s go.

Imagine, you’re out having a blast with your friends and just then you receive a phone call from your boss telling you to respond to an urgent email. Frantic, you reach out for your phone only to realize that your monthly internet data has reached its limit and you’re probably doomed. Situations like these can turn around in a jiffy when there’s a free Wi-Fi hotspot at bay.

But, where do you find a reliable Wi-Fi hotspot? Don’t worry. We have your back. We’ll tell you about all the places where you can easily back your phone with a strong internet connection. Be mindful of one thing. A free, public Wi-Fi won’t be as fast as the one at your home. However, it’ll suffice you for a little email checking and DM’ing your friends. 

Starting With the Basics

What is a Wi-Fi Hotspot?

Hotspots are physical internet access points where users can wirelessly connect their smartphones, tablets, and laptops to the internet while being away from their home or work network. Internet Service Providers in the area install these Wi-Fi hotspots; offering free internet to the population, particularly their subscribers. Depending on the ISP’s service areas, their hotspot network could be scattered across multiple cities or the entire nation.

On the other hand, your local government and businesses also install Wi-Fi access points to provide free internet to the general population. Moreover, these hotspots are capable of providing significantly faster internet access than cellular data.

Wi-Fi hotspots are available as the following 3 types:

Public Wi-Fi Hotspot

These hotspots are free to use. You can find a public Wi-Fi hotspot at common public places such as hotels, parks, airports, etc.

Mobile Hotspot

If you turn on the ‘Mobile Hotspot’ feature in your phone, it’ll function like your very own Wi-Fi network. Mobile hotspots work on cellular data. You may use your phone or buy a purpose-built mobile hotspot device. These devices are life saviors if you’re always on the go and in need of a strong Wi-Fi connection backing your devices.

Prepaid Hotspot

Prepaid hotspots are the same as mobile hotspots. However, prepaid hotspots have predefined data limits. Whenever you run out of data, all you have to do is pay a small fee and use the cellular data till it’s up. A prepaid hotspot is best if you don’t prefer a long-term data subscription. Whenever the need arises, just top-up the data and work your errands. No pain of sticking with continuous monthly subscriptions.

Pivoting Towards the Important

Determine Your Internet Needs

Whether you have to attend an online meeting or study for your exam, one thing is for sure, you need a Wi-Fi hotspot that cooperates instead of wanting to run back home to your superfast fiber optic internet.

Cafes, restaurants, and libraries have the best Wi-Fi hotspots. Despite having numerous users connected, Wi-Fi at these places works best if you’re planning to use it for long. Don’t worry, we’ll share a list of all the areas with reliable Wi-Fi hotspot points shortly. Just keep reading.

On the other hand, if you’re having a hard-pressed day and you need Wi-Fi just to check messages or use social media then hotspots at parks, campuses, hospitals, and even airports can help greatly. The only snag? The speeds may not be as great as you imagine, especially in an outdoor and crowded setting. If you want to know what speeds you’re getting, check out our internet speed test.

Local businesses and government offices also have Wi-Fi for their staff. You could get the Wi-Fi password from a staff member and access their network. But they won’t probably have any place for you to sit and use their internet, so free Wi-Fi there could be only accessible for a short time. Eventually, you would have to get back to your cellular data to stay connected on the go.

Finding Free Wi-Fi Hotspots

Common Places To Try

Before you’re headed towards a public Wi-Fi network, be sure to turn on the ‘Find a Wi-Fi Hotspot’ feature on your phone. The most common places where you can easily connect to a free Wi-Fi hotspot are listed down below:

  1. Airports
  2. Cafes
  3. Colleges         
  4. Hospitals
  5. Libraries
  6. Parks
  7. Schools
  8. Statehouses
  9. Subways
  10. Train Station

Popular National Places with Free Wi-Fi

Lucky for you, the following 11 fast food plus supermarket chains across the U.S offer free Wi-Fi. Be polite before barging into these Wi-Fi networks, will you? Make a small and inexpensive purchase while you’re there. Remember, you’re doing it for free Wi-Fi after all.

  • Arby’s
  • Burger King
  • Dunkin’
  • KFC
  • Kroger
  • McDonalds
  • Starbucks
  • Subway
  • Taco Bell
  • Walmart
  • Wendy’s

Finding Nearby Wi-Fi Hotspots

Let’s Make it Easier

  • Use a reliable Wi-Fi hotspot-finding mobile app on your phone. Click hereto find out all the apps supported by iOS and Android devices.
  • While using a desktop browser, use a Web App to locate the nearby Wi-Fi hotspots. Whether you’re a Windows or a MAC user, click hereto find out the top free Wi-Fi hotspot finding apps.
  • Remember the list of ‘Free National Wi-Fi Hotspots’ that we shared a while ago? Be sure to drop by at one of those if you want to use free public Wi-Fi.
  • Lastly, opt for an ISP-powered free Wi-Fi hotspot. We’ll shed some more info on this in a while.

While Using a Public Wi-Fi

Be Mindful of One Thing

Public Wi-Fi hotspots may be tempting and whatnot. But you can’t deny how unsafe these networks are. Public Wi-Fi is risk-laden. Public networks have middlemen that may eavesdrop upon spotting the slightest vulnerability in the connection. Emails, credit card info, and your personal information are at the highest risk when you’re connected to a public network.

How to Stay Safe on a Public Wi-Fi Hotspot?

If you’re using a reliable VPN, then using a public Wi-Fi hotspot won’t be that risky. However, if not, then you can stay safe on a public Wi-Fi network through the following ways:

  • Disable the ‘Auto Connect’ feature in your smartphone. Allow your phone to ask you for permission whenever there’s a free Wi-Fi hotspot around.
  • Refrain from accessing websites that contain your sensitive info. If there’s an urgency, access websites with the extension ‘HTTPS’ since they are considered very secure.
  • Don’t log into mobile applications using your sensitive information. If you were home, it would’ve been okay. However, on a public network, stay out of such apps or access their website instead. Remember, HTTPS.
  • Be sure to turn off the ‘file sharing’ feature on your smartphone. Who knows? An eavesdropper might drop a package full of bugs.
  • When you’re done using your account(s) online, make sure to log out.
  • If you frequently check emails, then use a separate account while you’re on the public network. Even a randomly thrown email address would do fine there.

Use Your Own Wi-Fi Hotspot if Necessary

Setting up a Wi-Fi hotspot yourself is no rocket science. If you’re an Apple user, here’s how you can turn your phone into a mobile hotspot:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Go to Personal Hotspot
  3. Tap the slider ‘Allow Others to Join’

If you’re an Android user, here’s how you can turn on the mobile hotspot:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Then go to Mobile Hotspot & Tethering
  3. Turn on Mobile Hotspot
  4. Set the name & password of your network
  5. Connect any device and enjoy!

ISP-Based Wi-Fi Hotspots

What’s It All About?

Public Wi-Fi hotspots are convenient. However, not all are safe enough to use for a longer period, especially when sensitive information is involved. If only your query ‘is there Wi-Fi from top Internet Service Providers near me?’ had an answer.

Well, there is!

A few reliable ISPs offer out-of-home Wi-Fi hotspots to their internet subscribers. These Wi-Fi hotspots are found nationwide, wherever the ISP holds a footprint, and their subscribers can access them whenever nearby.

Unlike a typical public Wi-Fi hotspot, ISP-powered Wi-Fi hotspots are way more secure and often only let their subscribers access them. To access an ISP-based Wi-Fi hotspot, you would require your ISP subscription-related username and password to log in. To find a nearby Wi-Fi hotspot by your ISP, check the Wi-Fi map at your provider’s website.

In case of queries regarding this, we’d suggest you get in touch with your provider’s customer support.

Currently, U.S has free Wi-Fi hotspots from AT&T, Cox Communications, Mediacom, Optimum, Spectrum, and Xfinity.

In a Nutshell

Free Wi-Fi hotspots are best companions if you often have to run errands on the go. Free Wi-Fi is just as beneficial for businesses as it is for you. 60% of businesses that offered free Wi-Fi at their premises noticed that their customers spent more time at their place. Therefore, if you’re a small or growing business, looking for exciting ways to reel in new customers, then remember the golden words…. Free Wi-Fi.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does free Wi-Fi hotspot work?

Free Wi-Fi hotspots work the same way your home or work Wi-Fi works. Special wireless equipment is used to transmit the internet to your phone, laptop, tablet, etc. The only difference is that these Wi-Fi hotspots offer free internet access.

Are free Wi-Fi Hotspots safe?

Free Wi-Fi can be safe if you’re using VPN. YouTubing or checking your social media accounts is okay. However, sharing sensitive information such as credit card details and social security numbers may be risky. Be mindful of your activities while you’re using free public Wi-Fi.