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Make The Connection On The Road? Its Wi-Fi..

Posted on | December 26, 2010 | Comments Off on Make The Connection On The Road? Its Wi-Fi..

How can you prevent the grim scenario depicted above? One possibility is JiWire’s Wi-Fi Hotspot Helper for Windows XP (.95 per year; http://www.jiwire.com/hotspot-helper.htm). The device locates nearby Wi-Fi access points by cross-referencing your location against a database—stored offline on your PC—of more than 200,000 verified hotspots. Bonus features are a Wi-Fi mailer, which moves email through blocked hotspots, and enterprise-grade encryption and firewall security. The trial is free, but Vista users are out of luck. If you are a Skype or iPhone user, JiWire also offers a free finder utility without the security and email perks.

If you would rather map out hotspot locations before you leave home, or before leaving your last hotspot, JiWire’s searchable online database can assist. We also like sites such as WiFinder (http://www.wifinder .com), a good place for state-by-state searches; Wi-Fi Free Spot (http://www.wifi freespot.com) or Open WiFi Spots (www .openwifispots.com), each of which are great Web sites for free Wi-Fi locations; and PC Today’s own Wi-Fi hotspot directory (http://www.pctoday.com). Open WiFi Spots offers category guides, such as restaurants, public parks, and municipalities, and interactive mapping of Wi-Fi locations to get you going.

Several major restaurant and retail chains, including McDonald’s (http://www.mcdonalds .com), Borders Books (http://www.borders.com), and Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble .com), offer fee-based Wi-Fi. At Panera Bread (http://www.panerabread.com) and hundreds of other cafés and fast-food restaurants, Wi-Fi is free. At Starbucks, a Starbucks Card (for which you get in purchase value) will soon give you two free hours per day of Internet usage. Companies such as Wayport (http://www.wayport.com) and Boingo (www .boingo.com), which often power the Wi-Fi at hotels, restaurants, and retailers, offer prepaid cards or subscriptions that give you access at any of their locations.

The Friendly Skies Although it’s unlikely you can have your pick of airports, a little planning can help you make the most of the Wi-Fi-friendly ones. Have a layover in Atlanta? Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport tops the Forbes Top 30 Most-Wired Airports report (February 2008), with airport- wide Wi-Fi access via five providers. Heading to Las Vegas, Denver, or Phoenix? Forbes’ No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 most Wi-Fi-friendly airports, respectively, all offer free hotspot access. If you have a layover in an airport that lacks Wi-Fi, you may be able to get it through your airline. Delta’s Crown Room Clubs and American Airline’s Admirals Clubs, for instance, offer free T-Mobile Wi-Fi; many locations offer day passes for purchase for nonmembers.

If you want to surf wirelessly in the most locations, make sure your hotel offers Wi-Fi. According to JiWire, hotels top the list of hotspot locations, with over 48,000 worldwide. A few years ago, luxury and upscale convention hotels such as the Adam’s Mark Dallas and the Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi led the charge to wireless access, but today you’ll find Wi-Fi in more humble abodes, as well. According to Wi-Fi Free Spot, nearly 50 hotel chains or groups offer Wi-Fi, although not all locations have it. Those that offer free Wi-Fi access in most locations range from the budget-priced (AmeriSuites, Staybridge Suites, La Quinta Inns, Homewood Suites, and others) to higher-end hotels. Some offer lobby and public-area access only; others offer guest room access only; a few offer both.

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