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If you’ve used a smartphone and especially if you have a tablet and smartwatch on your phone plan, you already know that feeling of relief when you get home and the WiFi connects automatically. But what if, instead of spending a day with poor or intermittent service, you could connect to wireless Internet on the go? In this article, we’ll show you some of the many ways you can connect to the Internet anywhere you go. But remember, Wifi is not always friendly. If you’re not careful, you could be left vulnerable to a security breach. Always practice caution and apply safety measures to protect your device – and your privacy – whenever possible.
Your cell service provider or Internet service provider likely provides a network of secure mobile access point you can tap into when you’re out and about. To find a mobile access point, try a WiFi access point finder app or check the available WiFi networks in your phone. Also, your provider may have an app that helps you search for and log in to networks using your account credentials.
For instance, Spectrum provides a completely secure network of On-the-Go access points. Select “Spectrum Free Trial” in the list of available networks and sign into your Spectrum account to connect instantly. Your phone settings may allow you to connect automatically when you’re in range of one of your carrier’s WiFi access points. However, you may want to disable this feature to maintain control of which networks your device connects to.
Many of the places you love to visit – and some places you have to – offer free WiFi connections to use while you’re there. Coffee shops and offices may provide guest WiFi with the network name and password prominently displayed for visitors. Supermarkets and big box stores often offer an open WiFi connection, so you can do your comparison shopping without eating up your data. Visiting the library to work, study or find some reading material? Take advantage of their free WiFi using your library credentials.
While these can be super helpful if you have a limited data plan or a poor cellular connection, these WiFi networks tend to be a bit slower than what you’re used to at home. You shouldn’t plan on streaming Netflix while you’re on the grocery store’s network, but a price check on a competitor’s site should be fine.
But remember, “open” means “unsecured,” leaving you vulnerable to hacks, malware and phishing. If you are not logging into a password-protected connection, you need to pay extra attention before connecting. Fraudsters have even been known to set up rogue access points in an effort to steal your personal information. If you’re at JFK Airport and you see an open WiFi connection named “JFKAerport,” it’s probably not safe.
Limit yourself to visiting encrypted websites – that is, sites that start with “https” instead of “http” alone – while you’re on an open WiFi network. You may even want to consider installing a virtual private network (VPN) on your device. VPNs create an encrypted pathway for you to access websites safely. There are free and paid options for VPN access. Your employer or school may have login credentials available for you to access their VPN. Setting up your own VPN service takes a bit of technical elbow grease, so if you’re a novice you may want to ask a techie friend for assistance. If you own a business, Spectrum Enterprise offers an IP VPN and a managed IP VPN solution.
Some businesses will offer incentives for you to visit and log into their WiFi. That means you might get a coupon for a free sandwich the first time you use your local shop’s connection. If you need WiFi anyway, why not enjoy an added bonus?
Another method you can try is connecting a laptop or WiFi-enabled tablet to the Internet using your phone’s cell signal through a technique called tethering. Tethering turns your phone into a personal access point, letting you connect laptops, tablets or other devices using your phone plan. Be aware that tethering can lead to high data usage on your phone plan and can quickly drain your phone’s battery.
There are several ways your phone can be tethered, including using Bluetooth and a direct USB connection, but the most popular method is via WiFi. On iOS devices, look for the Personal Hotspot section under your Settings, and while Android devices may vary, the option can usually be found under a “Hotspot and Tethering” section within the network settings. Once you activate your phone’s Personal Hotspot, your phone will generate a network name and password that you can use to connect your laptop, tablet, or other personal device. Keep that password private and enjoy your safe connection.
WiFi apps eliminate the need for interrupting your local barista to get the coffee shop’s WiFi password. Users of these apps submit these passwords, which are then stored in a giant cloud database. When you’re ready to pop onto a password-secured public connection, you only need to click to connect. This gives you – and your barista – extra time to focus on getting work done. And if your local coffee shop has Spectrum Business Internet®, you can rest assured their Spectrum WiFi network offers an extra layer of security that’s not available with open WiFi connections.
Select cities across the globe offer free WiFi in their city centers. This includes Seoul, London, Perth, Barcelona, Tel Aviv, Florence, Paris and Vienna. While it may not be the only reason to jump on a plane, it just might make your trip a little bit easier.
If you’ve exhausted your free options for mobile WiFi and found that they don’t give you the service you need, try a portable WiFi router. This small gadget lets you bring your WiFi connection along wherever you go. Portable routers have a few advantages over tethering. Tethering ties up your phone and can drain your battery. It’s also not an effective way to provide a signal to multiple devices at once.
Portable routers use a SIM card to connect over available cellular signals. This makes it easier to provide service to 10 or more devices at one time, won’t drain your phone’s battery and frees up your phone to make phone calls, text and whatever else you need to do. Some airports and car rental companies offer loaner access points for just a few dollars a day.
Looking to save your data? Spectrum Mobile customers can connect to over half a million out-of-home WiFi access points. Spectrum's fast and secure Internet service is available across the country in common shopping, dining and travel spots so you can save your data for when you need it most.
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