Free Internet access across Europian countries
With people requiring near constant access as part of business mobile phones and more general browsing, it's now become essential to maintain a strong mobile infrastructure in cities and towns. However, there are some variations in terms of how and where you can access the Internet for free around Europe, and what some of the ongoing factors are in terms of limited access and security.
Types of free Internet
Free Internet access in Europe generally means Wi-Fi access via hotspots. These are locally based Internet connections with a wireless network, and tend to be based around a single property. Users log onto a local network using a password, or occasionally log on without one if they can pick up a signal. This access is generally focused around large cities, and provides an alternative to charges for a connection in some Internet cafes, hotels and other businesses.
Some locations also offer fixed computer access for a limited time, most notably in libraries, and via BT Open Zone Hot Spot wireless connections that require a small payment. A free Wi-Fi connection can be a useful alternative, in this context, to using 3G and 4G connections on phones to access the Internet. While speeds are increasing, with Wi-Max and 4G becoming more available, roaming charges are high - Vodafone charge 2.50 Euros per Mb.
Some common locations for finding Wi-Fi Internet include coffee shops, hotels, restaurants, libraries, Universities, and some businesses. Large chains tend to be able to subsidise wireless Internet networks in the hope that customers will make a purchase while using their connections. In the case of coffee shops like Starbucks, it's often necessary to make a purchase to find out the log in code. In terms of chains that typically provide wireless Internet connections, Radisson Blue Hotels, McDonalds, Wetherspoons and Costa Coffee branches are among the most common in the UK and Europe.
Best Countries for free Internet connection
If you're looking for the best countries to visit with free Internet connections on a holiday, then you may be surprised by the results. While significant investment has been made in the UK, and particularly London, for free wireless for the Olympics, as well as in Swindon, the UK does lag behind some countries. Eastern European and Scandinavian countries tend to be better, in some cases, for general connectivity. This is the case in Finland, as well as Estonia and Moldova, with the latter having invested in providing multiple free wireless spots around towns and cities.
Caution and Security when using free WIFI connection
It's important to note the importance of security and caution when using free wireless connections, and especially if conducting business transactions. Your computer or phone should have an encrypted connection that prevents other users from accessing your data, and should be configured to enable multiple passwords when logging in. It's also worth being careful when it comes to making payments online on public connections.
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