In today’s digital age, internet access is crucial now more than ever. From connecting with family and friends, to shopping, paying the bills, accessing entertainment, and more. But there’s a downside.
Internet access is not cheap.
But, free internet isn’t a pipe dream. You can get free internet, legally, at home or in public.
Let’s get into the real cost of internet access, then we’ll detail how you can access it.
The Real Cost of Internet Access
In the United States of America alone, about 89% of the population use the internet. In 2015, it was reported that the average internet bill was $50 a month. This amount increased to over $60 per month as soon as the promotional period ended.
This figure is impressive considering the fact that internet access was only $10 per month about a decade ago. With the technological advancements of our era, the cost of internet access will continue to rise.
Can You Legally Get Internet Access For Free?
The short answer is, “Yes, you can.” The best part about this fact is that we are going to show you some of the ways to legally get internet access for free. Consider this post as a list of internet hacks that is worthy of a bookmark.
Top Ways to Get Online Without Paying
The reality is that a lot of people can’t afford to pay $60 per month for internet access from traditional internet service providers (ISPs). The question now is, “Is there such a thing as free internet?”
If you are planning to cut back on your monthly costs, you’ll be happy to know that you can get online without paying. Furthermore, you can reduce your expenses without sacrificing your digital life. Here are some of the ways you can achieve these goals:
Use Wi-Fi in Local Spaces
We’ll start with an obvious tip. There are tons of local spaces that provide free Wi-Fi connections, and some of them are even open 24/7. Here’s a list of places that you can go if you need to connect to internet hotspots for free:
The next time you find yourself needing to access the internet, head on over to the nearest Starbucks, and connect to its Wi-Fi hotspot. While Starbucks internet is basically free, you may need to buy a cup of coffee to avail yourself of a free Wi-Fi hotspot.
It’s Starbucks’ new policy that you don’t have to buy anything to hang out.
Nevertheless, it’s a win-win situation for you. You get free Wi-Fi and delicious coffee at the same time.
Nowadays, co-working spaces are on the rise as they present remote workers with flexible office settings. A co-working space may look like a traditional office, but it’s not. The workers at these locations do not work for the same team or company.
Co-working spaces are utilized by individuals who need to get some work done. As a remote worker, internet access is a must. While co-working spaces require users to pay for the actual space, the benefits that come with this paid space are endless, including free Wi-Fi access.
When people are asked to name a few places to hang out for fun, airports are the furthest places from their minds. If you want free internet access, however, you should consider going to an airport. Airports offer free Wi-Fi access so passengers won’t need to use their data while waiting for flights.
Now, before you get any crazy ideas, we are talking about the lounge areas of airports. You don’t necessarily have to book a flight just so you can avail yourself of a free Wi-Fi spot. The best part about this tip is that you can hang out in airports all the time because they are open 24 hours per day.
Ask Your Neighbors
This effectiveness of this tip depends on the kind of relationship you have with your neighbors. Asking your neighbors for free internet doesn’t necessarily have to be an awkward request. In fact, you can repay your helpful neighbors something else of value.
Note: don’t think of this home internet hack as a freeloading tactic.
Instead, recognize that you are offering your neighbors an effective cost-sharing strategy that can allow both parties to save money. Of course, asking your neighbors point-blank to give you access to their Wi-Fi is something a freeloader would do.
Taking this approach shows that you lack basic neighbor etiquette.
Use Your Phone as a Hotspot
If at times your at-home Wi-Fi isn’t working as well as it should, don’t panic. As you may have already noticed, the world will not end if your Wi-Fi suddenly shuts down. Before you find some other place to access the internet for free, start by using your mobile phone as a hotspot.
This hack is probably one of the most neglected tips when it comes to gaining free access to the internet. Utilizing your cell phone as a hotspot basically entails using it as a mobile router. By enabling its hotspot feature, you can use your phone to connect to devices like your laptop computer.
Remember, you are using the data available on your phone. Thus, you have to be careful not to go over your data allowance.
Top Virtual Network Operators
A virtual network operator (VNO), which is sometimes referred to as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), is basically a reseller of network services from telecommunications suppliers. If you are looking for ways to always get your hands on free Wi-Fi, a VNO is a good option for you.
With that in mind, here are the top VNOs you should consider:
It’s quite impossible for you never to have heard of FreedomPop before because it is one of the most popular VNOs in Los Angeles, California. It is a free internet service provider that allows everyone to have access to the internet.
The best part about FreedomPop is that you can use this service’s talk, text, and data plans at no cost per month. Yes, you can access a free internet connection with FreedomPop.
You can accomplish this feat with a variety of different available options. For instance, you can purchase a mobile device and sign it up for a plan when you checkout. Once you receive your phone in the mail, you need to download FreedomPop’s messaging application to begin the service.
FreedomPop uses the cellular service called Voice Over IP (VoIP). With VoIP, you can efficiently utilize the data connection provided to you to make calls and texts.
NetZero was founded in 1998, which means that accessing the internet through NetZero entails using a phone line in your home. If you already have a home phone, you’re good to go.
While NetZero may not be as generous as FreedomPop, you’ll still be able to use 10 hours of free Wi-Fi. If you are someone who is not a heavy user of the internet, then NetZero may be the perfect option for you.
Top Mobile Apps to Help You Access Free Wi-Fi
In addition to public spaces and virtual network operators, there are several apps that offer free internet. These are some of the most popular.
InstaBridge is an app that is completely free of charge. It helps you with Wi-Fi passwords and hotspots in your area. Believe it or not, InstaBridge was actually founded as a means to share your at-home Wi-Fi with your Facebook friends. However, as you already know, this platform rapidly grew to become a large Wi-Fi sharing community.
InstaBridge automatically reconnects your devices to hotspots that have better service.
InstaBridge provides you with various details including nearby areas with free Wi-Fi access, the distance from where you are to where the free Wi-Fi is located, and the performance and speed of the internet connection.
As its name suggests, Wi-Fi Map is a map of Wi-Fi spots near your area. While this service doesn’t necessarily provide you with free access to the internet, it can help you find millions of Wi-Fi spots in your area.
Wi-Fi Map is an app that you can download onto any of your mobile devices. With this platform, other users upload information on local Wi-Fi hotspots so that people within the same area can access them.
Think of Wi-Fi Map as a crowdsourcing economy that grows as more people use it. If the current Wi-Fi hotspot that you are using is not that great, you can easily use Wi-Fi Map to search for others with a stable connection near your current location.
How to Stay Safe When Using Public Wi-Fi Access
Now that you know how to legally access free Wi-Fi, it’s time to go over some of the basic rules for staying safe while surfing the web:
Watch For Malware
Malware, also commonly referred to as viruses, can infect and ruin your device on any network. Accessing the internet using public Wi-Fi only increases the risk of contracting malware.
With that in mind, you can avoid malware by ensuring that your system is always updated. Please note that older systems are more prone to malware attacks. Moreover, you can always install anti-malware or anti-virus software as a means to protect yourself from these attacks.
Don’t Leave Wi-Fi On
Make it a habit to always turn off your Wi-Fi, and even your Bluetooth, when these services are not in use. Leaving these connectivity options on all the time allows hackers and other digital criminals to access your device.
Disable File Sharing
When you are using a public network, turn off your file sharing feature. Similar to the reasons you should not leave your device’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on, the file sharing feature on your device allows random people to easily transfer files to your phone, tablet, or laptop.
Remember, certain files may carry viruses or unknown software programs.
These can cause further problems for you, so make sure you’re always cautious and staying safe.
While it may seem tempting, logging into a network that is not password-protected is very risky. You may be able to access the internet using an unprotected network, but making this choice could definitely hurt you in the long run.
Open networks allow hackers to get into your system. Your device can get infected with viruses and malware, or your data could be stolen. If you are going to access free Wi-Fi, find a network that is password-protected.
Forget the Network
As soon as you are done using a public network, make sure to “Forget this network.” This option is provided in most devices used for accessing the internet.
By taking this step, your device will “forget” the network, meaning this measure will erase the network’s data on your phone. Thus, you are required to reconnect to a public network you’ve forgotten every time you are in its range.
This tactic protects you from unwanted viruses and dangerous attacks. Even though forgetting a public network means that you have to manually re-type the entire password next time you connect to it, trust us that this is a better option than having your files stolen or corrupted.
Free Wi-Fi is a wonderful thing for all of us living in the technological era. Public Wi-Fi is convenient as it allows you to get online for free. However, do note that this option for accessing the internet is not perfect.
You can’t get everything you want from free Wi-Fi. Moreover, you have to understand that there are certain limitations and risks when it comes to free public Wi-Fi networks. Remember, safety and security should be your top priorities when it comes to deciding whether or not you should cancel your internet plan and rely on public networks instead.