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Need a connection on the go? Try a WiFi hotspot

by | Sep 20, 2023


Many cities, businesses, and other organizations now offer WiFi hotspots for public use. A WiFi hotspot provides faster internet connections than what is often available on cellular networks.

So, how does a WiFi hotspot work? Are they safe? Get all the information you need below.

You can use a WiFi hotspot to connect a device anywhere.

WiFi hotspots are internet access points that allow you to connect to a WiFi network using your computer, smartphone, or another device while away from your home office or network.

How does a WiFi hotspot work?

A public WiFi hotspot works, from the user’s end, much like a WiFi network that you might find in your home or office. These hotspots transmit an internet connection using special wireless equipment to create a WiFi network to which you can connect a tablet, smartphone, computer, or other device.

Types of WiFi hotspots

Though WiFi hotspots are largely similar, there are a few different types available, and they have some distinct differences.

Man and woman review small business details in a coffee shop.

Public WiFi hotspot

A public WiFi hotspot is exactly what it sounds like. These hotspots are usually, though not always, free to use. Places like coffee shops, libraries, and retail stores may offer a free, public WiFi connection for patrons. In some cities, municipal governments or ISPs may also provide free public WiFi connections in some areas. These are usually free, but in some areas, like hotels and airports, you may have to pay to access a public hotspot.

A woman uses her laptop and chats on the phone. Her browser is in incognito mode, and she's on a VPN.

Mobile WiFi hotspot

Did you know that you can use your iPhone or many Android smartphones as a WiFi hotspot? By turning on this feature, your phone uses its cellular data to create a hotspot. You can then connect a computer or other device to this hotspot to access the internet. You can also buy purpose-built mobile WiFi hotspots, which are designed to turn a cellular data connection into a strong WiFi connection. People who travel a lot for work or who need constant access to a reliable WiFi connection can use one of these devices, which can be purchased from most cell phone companies.

Pre-paid hotspot

Prepaid WiFi hotspots are similar to mobile but set limits on how much data you can transmit over the connection. You can prepay for a set amount of data, and then when you run out, you can automatically pay for more. This is a good way to get a mobile hotspot without a long-term cellular data subscription.

Are WiFi hotspots safe?

Private WiFi hotspots, such as mobile and prepaid versions, are completely safe. When it comes to public hotspots, however, the security methods used to protect your data can vary widely.

As a rule, it’s recommended that you do not do anything over a public hotspot that could compromise secure personal data, such as checking out on shopping sites (providing payment information), using banking apps, or accessing medical records. For other activities like web browsing, checking email, and using social media, though, public WiFi hotspots tend to be safe.

How to find a hotspot

The easiest way to find a hotspot is to open up your computer or tablet and check your available networks list. In many public areas, you’ll find that there are a lot of open, public WiFi hotspots you can connect to, free of charge. You can also look for WiFi hotspots provided by your own ISP.

How to set up a WiFi hotspot

Wondering how to set up a hotspot for yourself? The easiest way is to use your Android or iOS smartphone as a mobile hotspot. Read this Guide from Google to give it a try on Android. For iPhone users, read this guide from Apple.

CenturyLink WiFi

At CenturyLink, we provide high-quality and secure WiFi to commercial and residential customers. To see what internet speeds are available near you, click the link below.


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