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What are WiFi® Free Hot Spots?

Malcolm Tatum
By
Updated May 17, 2024
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WiFi® hot spots are locations where access to wireless Internet local area networks is available to anyone with a device that is capable of connecting with the network. Many public locations that serve as gathering places for people provide WiFi® free hot spots as a means of attracting more patrons or customers. A no-charge WiFi® hot spot may be found at fast food restaurants, local and chain coffee shops, or even public libraries and parks.

There are two basic models that are used to create a free WiFi® hot spot. One approach is to create an unsecured or open public network using a single AP along with a router. With this model, customers do not have to establish login credentials. As long as the laptop computer, PDA or other handheld device is equipped with an internal or external wireless card, all that is required is to activate the device, identify the available connection and initiate a connection.

A second approach to WiFi® free hot spots is to establish a closed public network that can only be accessed using login credentials. This type of WiFi® hotspot offers the advantage of being more secure and allows the owner or sponsor of the amenity to limit access to customers. Some diners, cafes, and coffeehouses choose to create this type of network in conjunction with a specific provider, making it possible for any users who are customers of that provider to use the same login credentials they use to access their home based network.

Increasingly, business owners who offer WiFi® free hot spots are favoring the closed public network model. There are a couple of advantages to this approach. First, it is possible to limit the amount of bandwidth allocated per user, which helps to keep operational costs within budget. In addition, the closed public network offers customers more security than the open public network, minimizing the potential for data theft.

Business owners often find that creating WiFi® free hot spots helps to stimulate additional revenue in the form of additional sales. For example, coffee shops often find that people who can bring along a laptop and connect via the WiFi® connection are more likely to settle in and purchase more beverages or any of the other items offered on the menu. The presence of the free Internet access can also motivate client to visit the hot spots more often, thus building a solid and profitable clientele.

Consumers also enjoy several benefits by frequenting WiFi® free hot spots. College students or professionals on the go can continue to manage essential tasks while enjoying different surroundings. People who work from home can enjoy a quick change of scenery and fresh air while they manage their daily assignments at an open-air coffee shop via the free WiFi® connection.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By bythewell — On Feb 06, 2015

@KoiwiGal - As long as you aren't dumb about where you connect you should be fine. I would also avoid doing anything like checking my bank account on a public wi-fi hot spot, but mostly I think they are relatively safe, especially if you are only using a phone.

They've definitely saved my life more than once when I've been a student or moving to a new city. I take the internet so much for granted most of the time, but it can take forever to get it hooked up in a new place.

Being able to just go and grab a coffee and be able to sit and check emails and so forth really help, especially if you need internet to look for a job or a new place or whatever else.

By KoiwiGal — On Feb 06, 2015

@clintflint - I feel like a system like that would just be abused by creepy guys hoping to find an easy hookup though. And I'm suspicious enough of wi-fi hot spots in terms of my security without adding an additional feature that would connect you even further to the people around you.

By clintflint — On Feb 05, 2015

I actually think this is going to end up being a way to socialize with the people around you. If you have a wi-fi hot spot it's usually limited by space where all the devices connected need to be within a certain distance. If you put one in a public area like a park and then made it so that there was a specific chat function for people connected by the wi-fi you could help people to meet who might not have otherwise done so.

I know there have been apps which do something similar, but usually the problem with them is that it's difficult to spread them far enough that it's likely two different people with the same app are going to come into contact.

With this idea, the people are already within socializing distance and if they choose to go on the chat, they must be willing to meet new people.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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