Free internet access is all around us. With these tips and tricks you can find a free connection at home or when you are not at home. Even if you don't have a computer, your local public library has probably covered you.
On the road: public (and business) WiFi
Free Wi-Fi hotspots are commonplace in urban areas. But even if you are on a road trip, you will probably come across many companies that offer free WiFi.
Some cities offer public Wi-Fi networks, which may be available in parks and other public attractions. However, this is more common in larger cities than smaller ones.
Many companies offer free Wi-Fi hotspots. Coffee shops such as Starbucks and other smaller independent cafes are famous for it, but it doesn't stop there. Fast food restaurants such as McDonald's and stores such as Walmart and Target also offer free WiFi. Wifi is not available in every store, but in many of these stores.
These are just examples of large chains that offer free Wi-Fi. Many other chains also offer free WiFi. Free WiFi is also common in many smaller businesses, including coffee shops, bars and restaurants.
We call these Wi-Fi hotspots & # 39; free & # 39; but in general you are expected to buy something when you visit a company with free Wi-Fi. If you want to grab a quick coffee or buy something in the store, you can get free Wi-Fi while you are doing it.
There are some risks to using public WiFi, but it is much safer than it used to be.
If you have internet at home: the WiFi of your internet provider
If you pay for internet connection at home, chances are that your internet provider manages a network of Wi-Fi hotspots that you can connect to for free. These can offer you pretty good coverage when you are not at home. You just have to connect to the hotspot and log in with your ISP account.
For example, AT&T, Comcast, Cox, Optimum, and Spectrum are just a few of the ISPs that offer Wi-Fi hotspots. Comcast calls these "Xfinity WiFi" hotspots. Many internet providers outside the US also offer similar networks. Contact your internet provider to see what it offers.
Internet providers usually change people's home routers in public Wi-Fi hotspots, so you will find that they often occur in the coverage area of the ISP. For example, if you have Comcast and it is common in your city, you will probably see Xfinity WiFi hotspots everywhere. However, if you travel somewhere where Comcast does not offer service, you may not see them at all.
Assuming you have an internet connection at home and want internet access on the go, this is a great way to get free internet access when you are not at home.
At home: get free (or very cheap) internet
Getting free internet access in your home is a little trickier. If you live in a dense urban area, you may be able to connect to an open public Wi-Fi network and use that as your main internet access. It will probably not be as fast as a special internet connection at home.
You can also try sharing someone else's wifi. For example, if you have a good relationship with your neighbor, they might let you use their WiFi. It is possible.
You probably cannot get your own free internet connection. If you have a landline, it is still possible to use a free dial-up ISP such as NetZero, with which you can browse for free for 10 hours per month. But it is full of advertisements, will be very slow (think of the internet in the 90s?) And requires that fixed telephone bill. This is far from a good option.
Many ISPs offer subsidized, low-income plans. You usually need to be eligible for a public support tool to get this reduced price. For example, Comcast offers its Internet Essentials subscription for $ 10 per month to those who qualify. It is not free, but these subscriptions offer the cheapest internet at home for which you can pay. Similar subsidized plans may also be available in other countries.
Although these plans are intended for low-income families and individuals, you may be able to lower your monthly internet bill by lowering your plan to a lower speed or by negotiating with your ISP. You might save money by buying your cable modem and also avoiding those monthly rental costs.
Everywhere: what about free mobile access?
Did you know that you can get free mobile internet anywhere in the US? Some mobile providers offer basic plans with some free data every month. You can use it on a smartphone or even get a Wi-Fi hotspot. They bet they can somehow get money from you after you are a customer.
For example, FreedomPop offers 200 MB of free data every month. That's not much at all, but it's free. You must purchase a FreedomPop SIM card for your phone, tablet or Wi-Fi hotspot to get started.
Look, let's be honest: 200 MB is not much data at all and a company like FreedomPop has probably not won the best customer service. TIME Magazine wrote about his & # 39; dark & # 39; business practices in 2013, and we are not sure how much has changed. We have not tried it ourselves and cannot endorse it. But free is free, and it exists.
The FCC also offers a Lifeline utility that offers subsidized mobile service to low-income households. If you qualify, you may receive a discount or even free mobile data through the Lifeline program. Verizon Assurance Wireless, for example, advertises via Lifeline with a telephone plan with free monthly data.
No computer needed: public libraries
Public libraries are powerful, often overlooked, resources. Your local public library probably offers free public WiFi that you can use for as long as you want, along with a comfortable place to sit.
Libraries generally offer computers that you can also use. Depending on your library, there may be a time limit for computer use so that anyone who wants to use a computer can do this.
Your local library probably also offers much more. Blu-Rays, DVD & # 39; s, CD & # 39; s and maybe even video games are common. Many libraries also offer free access to online courses, newspapers, video streaming services, eBooks and audio books.
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