No internet at home? You can still get free Wi-Fi anywhere in the world

This story is part of home tipsCNET’s collection of practical tips for making the most of your home, inside and out.

Distance working And the virtual education It doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere soon, even as offices reopen and health measures improve amid the pandemic. Outside of work and school, people across the United States continue to do so cut the rope on me cable And the Satellites Pack and choose broadcasting services to save money.

All of these trends point to one major factor: the need for a reliable internet. So what does this mean for people who can’t get a reliable internet connection at home? It’s definitely not an ideal situation, but there are still things you can do to get yourself online.

In this guide, we’ll give you a quick summary on how to get online quickly with a file HotspotHow to find free Wi-Fi anywhere in the world. (You can also learn How to check if your Wi-Fi is slow due to internet throttlingAnd the How to speed up your Wi-Fi network.)

Read more: Best Internet Providers of 2022

What is the hot spot?

A hotspot is a central location or device that provides wireless access to the Internet, and any network device can connect provided it has the correct access. Depending on your carrier and your plan, you may be able to use Smartphone as a hotspot.

There are two different types of hotspots: public and private.

In the above scenario, where you paid your mobile service provider for the ability to create a hotspot using your smartphone, the smartphone is the physical device that creates wireless access to other Wi-Fi-enabled devices, such as laptops, desktops, and streaming devices. This is an example of a private focal point.

A public hotspot is usually set up by a company to provide an Internet service when visitors, clients, and customers are at the site. Many free public Wi-Fi connections are hotspots. But for the sake of accuracy, it is important to note the difference between a standard Wi-Fi network and a hotspot.

Telstra technician installs 5G-capable public Wi-Fi hotspot

A hotspot is a central location or device that provides wireless access to the Internet.

Brad Wagner / Telstra

What exactly is the difference between Wi-Fi and a hotspot?

While hotspots are a physical location or device, Wi-Fi is a wireless technology that devices can use to send information to each other. If you have Wi-Fi at home, it is because you have a Wi-Fi router that supports all your wireless gadgets, and the ISP that connects this router to the Internet.

As long as you set a strong password, a private Wi-Fi network like this will be more secure than a public hotspot because you control who and what connects to it. On the other hand, public hotspots are open to anyone within range, which is why it’s a good idea to use them VPN or Some other security measures If you need to do anything sensitive, such as shopping or sending money.

How to find free Wi-Fi or free public hotspots

While this may not be possible at home (unless you live near someone with an unsecured network), there are usually plenty of options for finding free Wi-Fi or public hotspots in businesses such as coffee shops, libraries, hotels and restaurants. Fitness centers and more.

If you are about to go out for the day in search of free internet, here are some useful apps that you can try:

Such applications will display a map of your area with a list of available free public Wi-Fi networks or hotspots. Most of them will also allow you to keep track of login requirements and hotspot reviews.

Some sites, like libraries, are generally for free public Wi-Fi, but if you’re not using the Wi-Fi finder app, it’s a good idea to connect first to be sure.

How to set up and use Free Wi-Fi

Make sure that the device you plan to use supports Wi-Fi. If so, make sure Wi-Fi is turned on.

Once you are at the location where you will be using the public Wi-Fi or hotspot, open a browser and then open your computer’s network settings or click on the Wi-Fi icon on your screen. Next, select the public Wi-Fi connection you intend to use. If the connection is public, you will be connected now, but watch for the subscription site to appear in your browser. Some companies require you to agree to their terms of service or provide an email address before they will allow you to use free Wi-Fi.

Some companies provide login and password information for their customers and provide a secure network. If the connection you intend to use appears to be secure, find the login and password posted by the company, or ask someone for help. And yes, if you are somewhere like a coffee shop, it would be polite to buy a pastry or a cup of coffee while you’re at it.

If you set your computer to automatically connect to available networks, then the next time you visit that business, your computer will automatically join their network.

htc 5g hotspot device

This HTC hotspot uses an incoming 5G connection to provide Wi-Fi Internet access to nearby wireless devices.

Andrew Howell/CNET

How to set up and use a private hotspot

It’s not free, but if you need an internet connection at home and have a good cellular signal, a paid hotspot can be one place to turn. For example, you probably live in a Rural area with limited ISP optionsOr maybe the internet plans in your area are beyond your budget.

Depending on your mobile service provider and the plan you’re paying for, you may already have Personal Hotspot capabilities. If not, talk with your provider to determine how much they will cost you for this option. Be prepared to pay more if you are looking for unlimited data.

After thinking about pricing, you’ll need to choose between using your smartphone as a hotspot or purchasing Dedicated Wi-Fi Hotspot Device.

Check your phone settings for hotspot capabilities.

Screenshots by Ry Crist / CNET

Should I use my smartphone or separate hotspot device?

The hotspot device will be considered a separate device on your mobile plan with its separate data limit. The downside is the extra cost, but the upside is that you won’t have to worry about using your smartphone consuming your hotspot data. Another positive: If you set a file strong passwordHowever, using a hotspot device to connect to the Internet is just as secure as any Wi-Fi connection your ISP provides, and often provides a greater range of coverage as well. We are also seeing an increasing number of full Wi-Fi routers and network routers Designed to receive the incoming signal over a cellular connection, such as LTE or 5G network.

Both smartphone hotspots and dedicated hotspot devices can be used anywhere, although using a smartphone hotspot in public places may be more convenient, especially if you’re just trying to connect your laptop to the Internet for a few minutes.

What options does my internet provider offer?

In 2020, the Federal Communications Commission established Keep in touch Americans An initiative to help people maintain their broadband and telephone connection during the pandemic. In addition, providers such as Comcast Extend free public Wi-Fi to anyone (customers and non-customers) through 2020. Many providers have extended benefits like those until 2022 — if you’re struggling, it’s worth checking with providers in your area for your options.

Whichever path you take, the bottom line is that you likely have more ways to get online than you might realize. We hope this guide will help you find them and make use of them – in the meantime, here’s some additional reading that you may also find useful: