So, you want to get free Wi-Fi by connecting to the nearest available Wi-Fi hotspot or a Wi-Fi router? You’re not alone, and as long as you don’t try to break into the network by guessing the Wi-Fi password, your desire is justified. At home, within a building, or at a friend’s house, you might enjoy 4K streaming or downloading large files. But when you’re out and about, you’ll be lucky to find a network in the first place. Then, it has to be either unlocked or provided a password openly. Even then, the Wi-Fi speeds will likely be slow. Here’s how to find the best public Wi-Fi hotspots.
What to Consider When Choosing a Public Wi-Fi Hotspot?
1. Security Protocols
It’s essential to put your online security first while connecting to a public Wi-Fi hotspot. To ensure a safe connection, look for hotspots that employ encryption protocols like WPA2. A password requirement or portal login mechanism are additional security measures offered by some hotspots. Always be cautious of open/no password Wi-Fi, hackers can effortlessly harm you in such a scenario.
2. Signal Intensity and Range
For a seamless browsing experience, a public Wi-Fi hotspot’s signal quality and coverage are crucial. Select hotspots with reliable signals to guarantee constant connectivity over the specified region. This is crucial in densely populated areas where numerous users may be logging on to the hotspot at once.
The best public Wi-Fi hotspots
These are the best locations to search for a public Wi-Fi network:
1. Shopping malls
This one earned a top spot because it provides the best of both worlds. First of all, there are plenty of stores that offer Wi-Fi. Second of all, the shopping mall might have its own Wi-Fi network, available while you’re waiting for someone or just sitting down to rest. Both are often unlocked and will offer a pretty decent Internet speed since you’ll be close to the source. The best thing? No one is forcing you to purchase anything to use it. Just keep in mind, you’ll have to share the connection with other people.
2. Public parks
Another free option to acquire a Wi-Fi connection is your nearest public park. There could be multiple parks in your city. But, all of them should have a hotspot in at least a certain section. You don’t have to dress up as you would for a shopping mall, and the competition won’t be as tough if there are multiple hidden routers strewn about. The downside is that you’ll have to keep checking your speed to see if you’re close to the source. And, depending on the number of routers, you might still have to race to take the spot on the bench.
Restaurants that provide free Wi-Fi often see an increase in customers and for a good reason. They often require you to purchase something off the menu and print a Wi-Fi password on your bill. In some cases, their Wi-Fi network is without a password, or you can ask for it at the counter, but this is rarer. It’s also easy to find which restaurants offer this service because it’s a huge selling point for them. And it makes perfect sense. We all scroll through the feed, and watch movies on Netflix or IPTV, as we munch on our food at home.
4. Hotels and motels
If you need to stream in 4K, download, or play video games with a VPN, this is the best option. In most cases, you will have a dedicated router in your room, which will boost Wi-Fi speed by default. Unlike the options above, you can also try to boost the Wi-Fi signal by resetting the device or getting the staff to do it for you. And, if the occupancy is low, you might be able to ask the staff for an empty room that has the fastest connection.
Going back to options, you don’t have to pay for libraries. Public libraries often have a password printed on a piece of paper for everyone to see, so you don’t disturb busy people. Depending on the number of people using it, this network can also be quite fast, too. You’re not limited to public ones, by the way. You can always visit the nearest school, university, or college, and simply ask a student in the library for a password if it isn’t highlighted somewhere already.
6. Transportation services
This wasn’t an option a few years ago, let alone one of the best public Wi-Fi hotspots. Now, it has slowly become a vital part of transportation services such as taxis, Ubers, Lyfts, buses, trains, etc. Most modern ones have a mobile hotspot that creates a Wi-Fi network inside the vehicle. This is a perfect way to kill boredom, stay informed, and simply extract the maximum out of a ticket you had to buy anyway. Also, they don’t need to lock the network with a password since it’s always on the move.
7. ISP hotspots
So, you purchased a wired Internet connection from a certain ISP (Internet Service Provider) to use at home. But did you know this entitles you to use their network of publicly available hotspots too? They have to cover a large area anyway, so they use this as an additional selling point. Granted, you probably need to log in with an account username and password provided by the ISP. However, this shouldn’t take more than an e-mail or a call to customer service.
8. Camping grounds
Depending on the country you’re from and how much you like to travel, this can be one of the best public Wi-Fi hotspots. Those who live in a vehicle or like to go on vacation in one always struggle to get a reliable public Internet connection on the road. For that reason, the camping ground implemented Wi-Fi networks on its premises. While the occupancy can be quite low at times, you will still need to purchase a daily pass to park and get a password or pay for temporary Internet access alone.
9. Building complexes
This can mean a few different things. One of them is going out without a clue, to search for available Wi-Fi networks that aren’t locked. In that case, your only hope is to use one of the funny Wi-Fi puns or easy passwords you should never use to gain access. A better option is to install a Wi-Fi map application on your smart device. It works on a contribution basis – users willingly add details about their home Wi-Fi connection to the list. In return, they get a chance to use someone else’s while out and about.
10. People with you
Since you can create a Wi-Fi hotspot on Android, and creating hotspots on the iPhone isn’t any harder, why not do it while away from home? Or rather, ask a friend, significant other, or family member to do it for you. As long as they have enough mobile data to burn, they can turn their smart device into a mini router for you. That way, you don’t have to check Wi-Fi speeds constantly, you’ll be close to the source and extract a maximum. In our opinion, it’s one of the best public Wi-Fi hotspots if you can find someone to do it.
Tips for Using Public Wi-Fi Hotspots Safely
The following tips will help you browse safely while using a public Wi-Fi hotspot:
Use a virtual private network (VPN)
A VPN creates a private and secure connection between your device and the internet. Your internet communication will be protected against data leaks thanks to this ‘tunnel’. Even though these public Wi-Fi hotspots are quite handy, private networks are much safer. The flaws of public Wi-Fi hotspots could be used by hackers and cybercriminals to launch attacks or steal user data. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt your online activities and to make a protected and secure connection when connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Don’t access sensitive information
It’s highly advised to avoid accessing sensitive information, such as online banking or inputting credit card information, when using a public Wi-Fi hotspot. Accessing sensitive data puts you in danger of identity theft or financial crime, as public networks can be easily attacked.
Turn on Two-Factor Authentication
When feasible, enable two-factor authentication for your online accounts. Requiring an additional verification step, such as a special OTP code sent to your mobile device, while logging in, offers an extra degree of protection. Even if someone gains your login credentials, this helps secure your accounts.
Keep Your Devices Updated
Maintaining security requires routinely upgrading your devices, including your operating system and antivirus software. Patches for known vulnerabilities are frequently uploaded with software updates, assisting in the defense of your devices against potential dangers.