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Offering Internet service is the bread and butter of many telecommunications companies but businesses and private Interest groups have recognized the marketing power of offering free Internet and have used it to increase sales and provide value to their customers. With that said, many business still force customers to pay for Internet access. If you are on the lookout for free-for-all options that are scattered far and wide, here are some resources to help you find a free Wi-Fi service near you.
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Internet Resources: Wi-Fi Free Hotspots
If you are traveling to a new area or need help finding a free service in New York, London, Paris or any large city around the world use the following Internet resources to find addresses and directions.
wififreespot.com - This website has a directory of lots of free hotspots across the US that are organized by states. The listings also include an address, directions (in some instances) and a telephone number. There are also international listings for Europe, Canada, The Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America, The Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and some South Pacific Islands.
freewifi.com.au – “Australia’s premier directory of wireless hotspots” provides information on Wi-Fi freespots on the continent organized according to states. The site lists the total number of free services in an area, gives the address, and has Google map integration to help you find what you are looking for more easily.
In some instances businesses and individuals may be providing free service without even knowing it. This happens when they set up Wi-Fi routers and don’t bother to encrypt or password protect the connection, which makes accessing them a simple matter of finding the signal and logging on. In other cases connections are protected by very weak protocols such as WEP that can be easily accessed by using software to crack the protocol. Of course, using someone else's network without their permission is morally ambiguous and sometimes illegal.
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How to Safely Use a Free Wireless Internet Connection
Wi-Fi technology is designed to communicate with any Wi-Fi enabled device, which means that someone can capture data that is being sent from your wireless device to the router without you knowing it, if you have not taken steps to prevent this from happening. You will need to take the following precautions when using a public hotspot:
- If the Wi-Fi hotspot host has an encryption security key (WPA) use it. Not using encryption is tantamount to leaving your backdoor open for a thief.
- Ensure that your computer doesn’t have file or resource sharing enabled.
- Don’t send critical information across public connections.
- Install and configure a good firewall.
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Free WiFi Hotspots are great for accessing the Internet while on the go. You may know where to find the spots in your area, but when you are traveling you may have some trouble finding one that is conveniently located. One of your best bets is to go to an old favorite such as a McDonald or Starbucks, in other cases you will have to ask the locals or use an online directory such as wififreespot.com.
Of course you will need to carry a compatible laptop (802.11b/g/n capable) or PDA to access free Internet service.