'TANSTAAFL', the acronym for 'There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch', may be familiar to those of you who have taken a college economics class or two. Whenever you hear the word 'Free' in association with a product or service it's a good idea to keep it in mind because, in truth, nothing is free. Someone, somewhere, somehow, is bearing an economic cost; and so it is with free Wi-Fi hotspots. For the most part any of the free Wi-Fi hotspots you'll come across will have some sort of quid pro quo associated with them.
If you go to a McDonalds, for example, you can get a bit of free Wi-Fi with the purchase of a meal, if you go to Panera Bread or Port City Java, although not explicitly stated, it's implied that you're expected, as you should be, to buy something for the privilege of taking up table space while surfing the 'net.
Along with businesses several Municipal and International Airport Authorities, as well as a growing number of airline club lounges, are providing free Wi-Fi in an effort to sway travellers, who may have a choice between several carriers or nearby airports, to choose them. Similarly, more and more hotels are offering free Wi-Fi for their guests so, while the Wi-Fi hotspot may be advertised as free, it's cost is rolled into the room rate or expensed to advertising.
There are a few venues in which, although funding may come through taxation of some sort, no direct user cost is associated. An increasing number of public libraries, for example, are offering free Wi-Fi and, amid increasing controversy, several towns and cities have either set up free Wi-Fi Hotzones or they're exploring the possibilities.
Finding these free Wi-Fi hotspots is not that difficult. JiWire.com sponsors the Wi-Fi-FreeSpot Directory and some Wi-Fi aggregators, like GoRemote, are beginning to include the listings of free hotspots in their directories.
When you're accessing a free wifi hotspot there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Don't expect much tech help. The waiters, waitresses or baristas may have some working knowledge but, don't count on it, that's not why they're there.
- Don't overstay your welcome. If there's a line of people trying to find a seat and you've been nursing a latte for two hours you, and others like you, may be contributing to the venue owner's growing desire to start charging a hefty fee for the Wi-Fi access they provide.
- Make sure you follow good Wi-Fi Hotspot Security practices.
So, while free may not be entirely free, it's definitely reasonable. With a bit of planning you should be able to save yourself a few dollars a month while enjoying the ambiance of your favorite free Wi-Fi hotspot.
About the Author
Phil Haley is a technical writer and the editor of Refurbished Laptop Computer Info. For more information regarding buying, maintaining, upgrading or enjoying a laptop computer visit Refurbished Laptop Computer Info.