Where can you go to find 'Hotspots'?

Question

Where can I get a list of 'hotspots' around where I work?

- Marcus

Answer

This question was answered on April 16, 2003. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

One of the hottest segments of the computer industry is in the wireless technologies and especially in Wi-Fi products Wi-Fi stands for Wireless Fidelity and it refers to a group of devices that is based on the IEEE 802.11x standard.

Wi-Fi allows laptops, desktops, printers and handheld devices to connect to each other and the Internet without any wires Wi-Fi ‘hotspots’ refer to publicly accessible wireless networks for free or often for a fee.

For instance, many coffee houses, book stores, airports, restaurants and hotels are now setting up hotspots so their customers can connect their laptops to the Internet or shared printers from anywhere in or around their facilities.

Any business that wishes to use wireless access, as a draw to their location, can setup an access point (which acts as a base station) that is connected to the Internet with all of the security settings turned off so their customers can simply walk within the broadcast range and start

surfing.

The McDonalds restaurant chain is even getting into the act by packaging an hour of wireless access with their extra value meals in three test stores in New York City.

There are currently thousands of hotspots worldwide with new access points being added daily, so naturally the best resource for finding them is the Internet.

Intel, which is one of the many suppliers of Wi-Fi hardware, has an extensive resource that lists hotspots worldwide at www.datadr.com/redir.cfm/hsfinder They recently announced the top 10 most ‘unwired’ cities in the U.S and they are (in order) Portland; San Francisco; Austin, Texas; Seattle; Orange County, Calif.; Washington, D.C.; San Diego; Denver; Ventura, Calif.; and Boston.

Cisco Systems, which specializes in networking of all sorts, has it’s own locator that not only allows you find hotspots worldwide but to also specify filters to show only hotels or restaurants or other common public places.

If you are a T-Mobile customer, there are more than 2300 hotspots they have available (broken down by state) at http://locations.hotspot.t-mobile.com

Another web site with an extensive list of locations that specifically lists sites that are open to the public at large is called 80211hotspots.com.

Most of these web resources allow you to submit hotspots if you find a new one or if you are a business owner interested in adding your location to the list.

For those that want information on how to setup a public hotspot at their business, check out the tutorial posted at 802.11 planet - www.datadr.com/redir.cfm/hssetup

While we are on the subject, many businesses that have installed wireless access points on their private networks may have unwittingly created a public hotspot that can be accessed simply by driving into the parking lot of the building.

If you don’t want just anyone to connect to your wireless network, be sure to activate the encryption scheme, generally known as WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) so that the ‘broadcasts’ from your base station are scrambled and of no use to outsiders.

Public hotspots will continue to grow in numbers and could some day provide enough coverage in large metro areas to allow for virtual wireless Internet access from just about anywhere, so stay tuned!

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on April 16, 2003