No Internet? Do this to find free Wi-Fi or hotspots anywhere

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

If you’ve ever experienced your internet suddenly flickering during an important Zoom meeting, you know how important strong internet connection located in our modern world. We study online, work from home on laptops and enjoy our favorite shows and films on streaming services. Stable Wi-Fi is very important day to day.

So what happens when you’re out and about? home Wi-Fi? Or what to do if your home internet? isn’t it fast in the first place??

In this guide, we’ll give you a quick overview of how to get online quickly using a hotspot, and how to find free Wi-Fi anywhere in the world. (You can also study how to tell if your Wi-Fi is slow due to Internet outages, how to speed up your wifi and our picks the best VPNs.)

What is a hotspot?

A hotspot is a central location or device that offers wireless access to the Internet, and any network device can connect if it has the right access. Depending on your mobile provider and plan, you may be able to use your the smartphone as a hotspot.

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

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

A public hotspot is typically set up by a business to provide Internet service when visitors, customers, and clients are on site. Many free, public Wi-Fi connections are hotspots. But for accuracy, it’s important to note the difference between standard Wi-Fi and a hotspot.

What is the difference between a 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’s because you have a Wi-Fi router that protects all of your wireless devices, and an Internet service provider that connects that router to the Internet.

As long as you set a strong password, such a private Wi-Fi network will be more secure than a public hotspot because you control who and what connects to it. Public hotspots, on the other hand, are open to anyone within range, so it’s a good idea to use them VPN: or some other security measure if you need to do something sensitive, like make a purchase or send money.

Read more: How to save up to $75 a month on your internet bills

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

Brad Wagner/Telstra

How to find free Wi-Fi or free public hotspots

While this probably won’t be possible at home (unless you live really close to someone with an unsecured network), there are usually plenty of options for finding free Wi-Fi or public hotspots at businesses like coffee shops, libraries, hotels , restaurants, fitness centers, etc.

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

Such apps will display a map of your area with a list of free public Wi-Fi or available hotspots. Many will also allow you to track access requirements and hotspot reviews.

Some places, like libraries, usually provide free public Wi-Fi, but unless you’re using a Wi-Fi finder app, it’s a good idea to call first to make sure.

How to set up and use free Wi-Fi

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

Once you arrive at the location where you will be using public Wi-Fi or a hotspot, open a browser and then open your computer’s network settings or click 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 now be connected, but watch for a website to appear in your browser. Some businesses require you to agree to their terms of service or provide an email address before they’ll let you use their free Wi-Fi.

Some businesses provide their customers with a login and password and offer a secure network. If the connection you intend to use appears to be secured, look around for the login and password posted by the business, or ask someone for help. And yes, if you’re somewhere like a coffee shop, it’s polite to buy a pastry or a cup of joe while you’re there.

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

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

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

How to create and use a private hotspot

They’re not free, but if you need an internet connection at home and have a good cell signal, a paid hotspot can be a place to be. For example, maybe you live in a rural area with limited ISP optionsor maybe internet plans in your area are out of your budget.

Depending on your mobile provider and the plan you pay for, you may already have personal hotspot capabilities. If not, talk to your provider to determine how much they will charge you for that option. Be prepared to pay more if you’re looking for unlimited data.

After considering pricing, you’ll need to decide between using your smartphone as a hotspot or purchasing a dedicated Wi-Fi hotspot device.

Check your phone settings for hotspot capabilities.

Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

Should I use my smartphone or a separate hotspot device?

A hotspot device will be considered a separate device with its own data limit on your cellular plan. The downside is the extra cost, but the upside is that you don’t have to worry about using your smartphone using up your hotspot data. Another positive. If you set a strong password, using a hotspot device to get online is just as secure as any ISP-provided Wi-Fi connection, and it often provides greater coverage as well. We are also seeing an increasing number of full Wi-Fi routers and network routers which are designed to receive their incoming signal over a cellular connection such as LTE or 5G:.

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

What Wi-Fi options does my ISP offer?

In 2020, the Federal Communications Commission created Keep Americans connected initiative to help people maintain their broadband and phone connections during the pandemic. In addition, providers love Comcast: Provided free public Wi-Fi to everyone (customers and non-customers) throughout 2020. Many providers have such extended benefits. if you’re having trouble, it’s worth checking with providers in your area to see what options you have.

No matter which route you take, the bottom line is that you probably have more ways to get online than you can imagine. We hope this guide will help you find and use them, in the meantime, here are some additional readings you may also find useful:

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