You’ve just moved into a new home. Electric is set up. Gas is set up. Water is good. You call to schedule internet set up and they say “Sure, we can schedule a technician appointment for next week.”
What are you supposed to do between now and then? Live like a caveman? Here are some ways that you can get free internet access while you wait for your internet service to be set up.
Use Your Cell Phone As A Hotspot
81% of Americans have a smartphone and for 31% of us, it is the primary way we access the internet. Most modern smartphones can be turned into a hotspot. Doing this will allow other devices to connect to your phone’s data plan.
The option to do this is usually under “Settings” and then “Network and Internet.”
A word of caution. Your other devices will use your phone’s data plan. Unless you have an unlimited plan, then you might end up with a large phone bill at the end of the month.
Ask Your Neighbors
Go to your phone and look at the available connections. You probably see a long list of options. If you do, it means that your neighbors’ connections are accessible from your house. Without the internet, you probably have time to bake some cookies to bring over to introduce yourself… and then ask if you can borrow the password while you wait for your connection to be set up. If you do choose to go this route, let your neighbor know that you are security conscious and ask if their network has a guest password functionality. This will allow them to give you access without them having to give their real network password.
Oh, and don’t try to guess their passwords. That is just rude.
Check Out Freedom Pop
When you use your phone as a hotspot, it turns your phone into a router and allows you to use your phone’s cellular network to connect to the internet. Freedom Pop is a company that will send you a free hotspot that will allow you to use any cellular network in the area to connect to the internet. They give you 10GB of data for your first month and then 500MB free a month after that. If you go over this amount, there is
How much is 500MB? It’s about 25 hours of Facebook, 125 songs on Spotify, or watching 33 videos on YouTube.
While this is convenient, it is clearly not enough for an entire month of surfing. Also, the amount of data isn’t the only consideration -- speed is important when it comes to home internet.
Internet is increasingly becoming a need to operate in modern society. Many communities are recognizing this need and offering WiFi as a free public service. Cities like Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and Houston offer free service in downtown areas and selected neighborhoods. Check out this complete list here.
If your city doesn’t provide municipal WiFi in your neighborhood, you will likely be able to use the WiFi connection at the local library. Most libraries in the US offer free, public WiFi that is accessible even without a library card.
Check Out Other Businesses
Everyone knows that coffee shops often have free WiFi, but they aren’t the only ones. Today, most businesses offer free WiFi, including popular fast-food chains. These options might not be great for camping out for an afternoon, but they can make for a great option in a pinch.
CNET found that some chains with the fastest internet include Taco Bell, Arby’s, Subway, and Burger King.
You should also be able to access these signals from the parking lot, which is useful to know for when you are on road trips or visiting a city.
Be Safe When Using Public Networks
Open WiFi networks are convenient, but they also pose a risk. It’s easy for people to monitor your activity, which means someone could capture personal information and steal your identity. Here are some basic things you should remember:
- Don’t log in to online banking or other financial sites.
- If possible, use a VPN.
- Make sure you use secure sites (https://)
- Check URLs, especially on links.
- Enable two-factor authentication for sites where you log in.
- Turn off airdrop and filesharing.
- Don’t do any online shopping.