TribLIVE

| Business


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Free Wi-Fi hot spots are everywhere

On the Grid

From the shale fields to the cooling towers, Trib Total Media covers the energy industry in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. For the latest news and views on gas, coal, electricity and more, check out On the Grid today.

Daily Photo Galleries

Friday, March 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

When you're on the go, you want the ability to email and access important documents in the cloud with your smartphone, tablet or laptop. Maybe you just want to scan the headlines of the day.

Unfortunately, finding free Wi-Fi hot spots isn't always easy. With the right tools, however, you'll never be too far from a free hot spot. You might have to walk another block or two, but the money you'll save will be worth it.

Just remember to stay safe. You want to turn off file sharing and be smart about mobile banking and shopping.

• Think outside the (Wi-Fi) box

Everyone knows they can get free Wi-Fi at McDonald's and Starbucks. But if you're trying to cut back on fries and cappuccinos, there are unexpected places you can try.

Some independent truck stops offer free Wi-Fi to lure truckers away from the chains, which may charge a small fee.

Does your car need a wash or an oil change? Many auto shops offer free Wi-Fi to keep customers happy while they wait.

Don't forget libraries and other public places. City halls, courts and even parks frequently offer Wi-Fi connectivity. So do some grocery stores.

• Join hotel loyalty programs and use coupons

Cadging a motel's open Wi-Fi network as a guest — or from the parking lot — was easy a few years ago. Not anymore. Many inns password-protect their networks and charge guests $10 or more a day for Wi-Fi access.

However, some chains offer complimentary Wi-Fi if you belong to their loyalty programs. Even if you're not booking a room, a sympathetic desk clerk or server might give you a password if you're a loyal customer.

• Tap into Wi-Fi databases

When possible, it's best to look up free Wi-Fi hot spots in the area you plan to travel. That's where Wi-Fi databases come in handy.

The Wi-Fi FreeSpot Directory has thousands of free spots. It organizes hot spots by state or business and has special sections for airports and hotels. You can even find RV parks and campgrounds with hot spots. Instead of listing sites as a directory, the JiWire website lets you search by city, state and ZIP code and see hot spots plotted on a map. On the road, the JiWire App will tap into your phone's GPS to find you the closest free or paid hot spot. You can even navigate to it once you've picked it.

• Free Wi-Fi access from your cable company

If you use cable for Internet access at home, you may be surprised to know that many providers have dedicated hot spots in third-party businesses. You can sign on to a hot spot run by your ISP at no charge.

Check your provider's website. Most of them have handy maps where you can search for hot spots. Just enter a nearby ZIP code. Some providers even have apps you can download that give Wi-Fi locations.

• Tether your phone

Tethering allows you to turn your smartphone's cellular Internet connection into a Wi-Fi hot spot for your tablet or laptop. It doesn't cost anything extra to tether if you have a shared data plan from Verizon or AT&T.

Tethering is slower than regular Wi-Fi, and it'll use up your smartphone's battery and data. But it's great when you need to securely send or receive a file from a tablet or laptop.

Android users who aren't on a shared data plan can try free third-party tethering apps like FoxFi or Easy Tether.

Email techcomments@usatoday.com.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Audit of county jail health provider says money being wasted
  2. Rossi: Steelers rising fast in mediocre AFC
  3. Police detain 3 juveniles they think are connected to anonymous online school threat
  4. Steelers offense learning to slam door
  5. Downie, Farnham bringing a much-needed edge to the Penguins
  6. Heyward, swarming defense get best of Chiefs in Steelers’ win
  7. Steelers clinch trip to postseason with big victory over Chiefs
  8. Allegheny Health Network announces collaboration with Johns Hopkins
  9. Pittsburgh mayor Peduto goes ‘Undercover’ for CBS reality show
  10. Pittsburgh police doubling up on duty after potential threats
  11. Game Commission to study Pennsylvania’s fawn predators
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.