Getting Started With Wireless Hotspots

WiFi hotspotting explained

Enjoying wireless connectivity in a Wi-Fi Hotspot
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A hotspot, also commonly called a WiFi hotspot, is a small area in which one can be connected to the Internet or a LAN (local area network) without wires, through WiFi. WiFi (also written Wi-Fi) is a wireless technology that allows LANs to be set up without wires between devices. You can only connect to a hotspot if you have a device that is Wi-Fi enabled and if you have the access rights to the network. Some hotspots are open while others are more private and restrict access only to those with a key. 

A hotspot is a rather simple structure consisting of a Wi-Fi wireless router, which is a device that links the LAN (the hotspot) to the ISP's broadband network, which can be for instance the telephone line or a fiber optic cable giving Internet connectivity. The router shares the Internet connection from the Internet service provider (ISP) to whoever is connected to the hotspot. 

The router sends signals in a sphere around it. The closer you are to it, the stronger the signals are and the better your connection is. This is often indicated on your computer or mobile device as a set of four vertical bars increasing in size as they move rightwards. 

Hotspots can be found in offices, campuses, cafes, public areas, and even at home. Once you have a wireless router connected to your broadband Internet line, you have a hotspot.


Wi-Fi has a notorious limitation, which is its short range. Depending on the strength of the router, a hotspot can have a radius of several meters to several dozens of meters. The theoretical distance of the reach of a hotspot should always be considered an overestimate as it does not take into account the different elements that reduce the hotspot's span. These include solid obstacles such as walls (Wi-Fi signals ​do pass through walls, but they suffer reduction), mesh metallic structures like roof slabs, metallic sources that cause interference, etc. 

Most hotspots are free, but not all are open to the public. You can have unrestricted and free hotspots in public places like gardens, government facilities, outside cafes, etc. But most hotspots, private ones, while not being restricted by physical premises, have security and authentication features.

Getting Connected

In order to connect to a private WiFi hotspot, you need a code called a WPA key. It is also often called a Wi-Fi password. This authenticates you into the network. Some more restrictive hotspots impose other restrictions beyond the password, such as prior registration with the router through MAC address. 

Wi-Fi hotspots are great places for free Internet connection and add a lot of power to mobility and mobile computing, especially in communication. Although they have restricted range, hotspots allow people to make free calls through Voice over IP, interact in a LAN, collaborate within an organization, or simply to access the Internet while on the move. 

You can find a lot of free and paid hotspot locations in your area at these sites: and