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Before I leave home on a trip, I gather all the info I might need while traveling: my flight numbers, my hotel address, the location of the nearest Starbucks and a list of nearby Wi-Fi hotspots.
Finding hotspots in advance saves me time and frustration later by predicting whether I'll have high-speed Internet access at the airports, hotels and cafes that I expect to visit. Reviewing provider lists and pricing helps me to figure out the most economical way to obtain Internet access when I'll have several options. When my best option is a café, carrying that establishment's phone number and hours with me can be handy.
This information can often be obtained from provider-supplied "Connection Managers" used to access commercial Wi-Fi hotspots. If you have an all-access account with one carrier, Connection Managers are a great way to locate hotspots where you'll find "free" (that is, previously paid-for) Internet access. Here are some common provider hotspot lists:
- Boingo Hotspot Finder
- iPass Access Point List
- T-Mobile Hotspot Finder
- Verizon NYC Hotspot Finder
- WayPort Hotspot Finder
- Hotspot Locations Public WLAN Directory
- Intel's Hotspot Finder (powered by JiWire)
- JiWire Hotspot Locator
- NodeDB Community Wireless Node Project
- Wi-Fi Alliance Wi-Fi Zone Finder
- Wi-Fi Hotspot List
- WiFinder Directory
About the author: Lisa Phifer is vice president of Core Competence, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in network security and management technology. Phifer has been involved in the design, implementation, and evaluation of data communications, internetworking, security, and network management products for nearly 20 years. She teaches about wireless LANs and virtual private networking at industry conferences and has written extensively about network infrastructure and security technologies for numerous publications. She is also a site expert to SearchMobileComputing.com and SearchNetworking.com.
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This was first published in August 2004