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


Now playing:
Watch this:

Find Free Wi-Fi Near You to Stay Connected



8:02

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

Read More