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.