WiFi Hot Spots in Cleveland and Beyond

  Can’t live without your laptop! Got to be connected! This article is for you!

  What’s the difference between WiFi and 3G service? WiFi is (currently) a short range technology that operates at fast local area network (LAN) speeds. 3G service operates using the same cell phone towers that your cell phones use and hence works in a much broader area. With the latest 3G technology of EV-DO and HSDPA speeds are good but still slower than a LAN. The cost ranges from $60 to $80 per month for most 3G services.

   Many people have WiFi set up at home or work. Many have connected to WiFi when staying at a hotel. But where else can you get WiFi? The answer is Hot Spots, some of which are free, kind of free (you have to buy food or drink from the merchant), and strictly on a paid basis.

   Free. Almost any Panera Bread, Yours Truly Restaurant, Caribou Coffee, or Arabica Coffee House in the greater Cleveland area has free WiFi. But how much computing are you going to get done during a meal, and with the waiter coming by asking you if you need anything else every ten minutes? The city of Cleveland has free outdoor WiFi between Public Square and Playhouse Square which is okay for your handheld PDA-telephone for speedy browsing while you’re on the go. To get something meaningful done on your laptop at no charge though, public libraries are still a great choice. There are also a handful of hotels such as the Hilton, Embassy Suites, and Residence Inn in Beachwood; the Comfort Inn, Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden, and Residence Inn in downtown Cleveland, the Ramada in Middleburg Hts; and the Marriott, Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn at the Airport that are all reported to have free WiFi in their lobbies. And on a nice fall day find a bench at University Circle, the Cleveland Museum of Art, or at Cleveland State University to get free access. See www.wififreespot.com/ or www.anchorfree.com/hotspot/finder for a more complete list.

   Not Free. See www.jiwire.com that contains a fairly comprehensive directory of 68,000 hot spots around the country and lists about 200,000 in the world. The two main companies that aggregate service offerings from WiFi providers into their own usage plans are iPass and Boingo. If you need access to WiFi hot spots on a regular basis then check out one of these two companies and expect to pay about $25-$30 per month. These services are especially good if you spend a lot of time in airports or at select hotel chains that accept the accounts. If you are already using AT&T DSL, then you can get free Hot Spot access. Here are some well known chain businesses and their providers where you can get WiFi on a paid basis either per session or per month:


Barnes & Noble (AT&T)


Borders Books and Music (T-Mobile)


FedEx Kinkos (T-Mobile)


McDonald’s (Wayport)


Starbucks (AT&T)

   There is a new service for airlines called GoGo. American, Virgin, and Delta are testing the in-flight wireless service. You can bet it will not be free.

   Security. Make sure you are connecting to the wireless network you should be. Hackers have been known to set up their own wireless networks in the same vicinity and give them similar SSID names. Then they have all of the unsecure traffic flowing through their computer. Always use a VPN when connecting to your corporate network. For general internet usage, a company called WiTopia.net has a personal VPN that can secure wireless connections at Hot Spots.

   What was life like before the internet?


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