Monday, January 01, 2007

How Do You Connect To A WiFi Hotspot?

A hotspot is a place where you can access Wi-Fi service, for free or for a fee. Hotspots can be found in airport lounges, coffee shops, corporate cafeterias or any other meeting area within range of a wireless LAN base station. More and more hotspot locations are popping up each day.

A single Access Point can be reached from a distance of no more than 100-200 meters (300-600 ft.), but there also exist Hotspots consisting of hundreds of Access Points which cover entire Airports, Hotels, or even Cities.

The first step is locating and connecting to the hotspot access point [see "How To Find A WiFi Hotspot" and "Wi-Fi HotSpot/Hot Zone Locator"]. In a wireless network, connecting to the access point is the same as plugging a cable into a hub or switch in a wired network. Wireless networks are identified by their SSID, which is the identifier for the network. Most wireless network clients will allow you to see a list of the networks available in an area. If you aren't able to see such a list, you might be able to tell your wireless card to connect to any available network.

In order to connect to a hotspot, you will need to get an IP address. In nearly every situation, your computer will do this for you automatically with DHCP. If you switch between different networks (wireless or otherwise), sometimes your computer may continue to use an IP lease from the previous network. In that case, you have to manually release and renew the lease. With Windows, you can use the ipconfig and winipcfg commands to interact with DHCP.

If you connect to a hotspot and get an IP address, but you are not able to reach other sites on the Internet, you may need to register with the provider. To log in, you need to open a new web browser window. Once you try to visit a website on the Internet, your HTTP request should be redirected to a page where you can log in. If you're not already a member of the specific hotspot provider you will have the opportunity to sign up.

Once you have signed up and logged in you are all set to utilize the hotspot!

For those interested in becoming a WiFi Hotspot themselves [nice little business opportunity] we suggest reading this article for tips and insights:

"How Do You Become A WiFi Hotspot?"

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