Find Free Wi-Fi Anywhere You Go. Here’s How

This story is part of Home Tips, CNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

Working from home and virtual learning have become the norm. Even as offices reopen and health metrics improve amid the pandemic, these remote options likely won’t be going away anytime soon. And apart from work and school, people across the US continue to cut the cord on cable and satellite packages, and opt for streaming services to save money. 

All of these trends point to one key factor: a need for reliable internet. So, what does this mean for people who cannot 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 rundown on how to quickly get online using a hotspot, and how to find free Wi-Fi anywhere in the world. (You can also learn how to tell if your Wi-Fi is slow due to internet throttling, and how to speed up your Wi-Fi.) 

Read more: Best Internet Providers of 2022


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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 provided it has the right access. Depending on your mobile provider and plan, you may be able to use your smartphone as a hotspot

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

In the above scenario where you’ve paid your mobile 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, like laptops, desktop computers and streaming devices. This is an example of a private hotspot. 

A public hotspot is usually created 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 the sake of accuracy, it is important to note a difference between standard Wi-Fi and a hotspot. 

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

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


Brad Wagner/Telstra

What’s the difference between Wi-Fi and a hotspot?

Whereas 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 quarterbacking all of your wireless gadgets, and an internet service provider that’s connecting that router to the internet. 

So long as you set a strong password, a private Wi-Fi network like that is going to 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, which is why it’s a good idea to use a VPN or some other security

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Need to have world-wide-web info? Here’s how to harvest them

When Ensheng Dong co-designed the Johns Hopkins University COVID‑19 Dashboard in January 2020, it was a labour of really like. Dong, a methods engineer at the college in Baltimore, Maryland, had mates and family in China, together with some in Wuhan, the web page of the initial outbreak. “I seriously required to see what was heading on in their spot,” he claims. So Dong commenced amassing public-health and fitness knowledge from the cities recognised to be afflicted.

At initially, the work was manual. But as the outbreak grew to become a pandemic, and the COVID-19 Dashboard grew to become the go-to resource for governments and researchers trying to get information on the unfold of the disease, Dong and his colleagues struggled to maintain up. In the United States by itself, the team was tracking medical reviews from a lot more than 3,000 counties, he suggests. “We were updating at minimum a few to 4 situations a working day,” he remembers, and there was no way the group could continue to keep up that relentless pace manually. Thankfully, he and his graduate adviser, techniques engineer Lauren Gardner, located a far more scalable option: world wide web scraping.

Scraping algorithms pluck out appropriate information and facts from sites and report it in a spreadsheet or other user-helpful structure. Dong and his colleagues created a procedure that could capture COVID-19 knowledge from close to the entire world and update the figures with no human intervention. “For the first time in human heritage, we can keep track of what’s heading on with a world-wide pandemic in genuine time,” he suggests.

Comparable tools are harvesting info across a selection of disciplines. Alex Luscombe, a criminologist at the University of Toronto in Canada, takes advantage of scraping to monitor Canadian law-enforcement procedures Phill Cassey, a conservation biologist at the University of Adelaide, Australia, tracks the worldwide wildlife trade on Online boards and Ga Richards, an epidemiologist at the College of Oxford, United kingdom, scans coroners’ studies for preventable causes of loss of life. The specialized ability expected isn’t trivial, but neither is it overpowering — and the added benefits can be immense, enabling scientists to gather massive portions of knowledge promptly with out the errors inherent to guide transcription. “There’s so several means and so substantially details accessible on line,” Richards says. “It’s just sitting down there waiting around for a person to come and make use of it.”

Obtaining the goods

Modern net browsers are adequately polished that it is easy to forget about their fundamental complexity. Web sites blend code prepared in languages this kind of as HTML and JavaScript to outline in which various textual content and visual elements will show up on the page, which includes each ‘static’ (set) written content and ‘dynamic’ articles that adjustments in response to user motion.

Some scientific databases, this sort of as PubMed, and social networks, these types of as Twitter, deliver software programming interfaces (APIs) that provide managed accessibility to these knowledge. But for other

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