Free Wi-Fi


Free wireless internet can be beneficial, but there are risks involved as well (phto courtesy of RambergMediaImages on flikr).

With the demand for distance education on the rise, and the seemingly constant increase in cost for personal internet, it was inevitable that one would develop a website where free wireless internet could be located. By now, most of us know Starbucks, McDonalds, and most airports offer complimentary wireless internet, but what other local establishments in your area can you visit while completing classwork?

How to Find Free Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi Free Spot: This site offers free searches for local establishments offering wireless internet to its patrons. The steps are simple: click on your state, scroll down to your city, and review all known business. For example, when I select ‘Louisiana’ and scroll to ‘Lafayette,’ there are over seventeen different businesses, in addition to the large corporations we all know offer the service, that have free wireless internet.

JiWire Global Wi-Fi- Finder: Expanding to more than just restaurants and cafes, this website provides you with an easy-to-navigate search tool to find free wireless internet anywhere throughout your selected town. After searching ‘Bradenton, FL’ I found seventy-nine local businesses and/or areas that offer the service to visitors/customers.

We-Fi: We=Fi is a network of over a million people who, together, have established a database of free Wi-Fi hotspots around the world; there are currently over 16 million hotspots on the site’s maps. When you install the We-Fi software, it will automatically search for the closest hotspot and connect you.

Whisher: Whisher is a free share-your-internet network of individuals. Once your network is shared through the software, access to other shared networks becomes available. The software is currently available for both Mac and Windows, although Vista operating systems are not supported.

Google TiSP: Shown in Beta on the website, Google TiSP is a free service that requires minimal installation of Google’s products in your home. The upload and download speeds, however, are advertised as being faster than DSL, but boast only 2Mbps upload and 8Mbps download.

The Benefits

Obviously the biggest benefit of having free wireless internet access is that you don’t have a monthly bill (that’s usually more than seemingly necessary) to pay. Plus, by having to leave your home in order to access the internet you have the opportunity to get outside, network with other students, and (my favorite) people-watch.

The Disadvantages

Open wireless networks are usually not secure; I say usually because I am not familiar with ALL open wireless networks. However, it is better to be safe than sorry. Remember, when accessing the internet through a public network it is possible for people to access files and information on your computer; with this also comes the possibility for viruses.

Be aware of the symbol associated with the wireless network you are connecting to. If using Windows XP, the icon should look like an antenna; in Vista it will be a single computer. If it the icon is ever a pair of computers, you are viewing an ad-hoc network and you should stay away.

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