Where to Find Free WiFi On the Road: Top 4 WiFi Hotspot Locators

In the interest of shamelessly piggybacking on Ian’s latest piece over at BNT on How To Find An Internet Cafe Anywhere In The World, I thought it might be helpful to list a few sites that detail where to find free and paid WiFi hotspots around the globe. For folks like me who plan on taking their laptop with them, I’m much more interested in the latter.

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Tin Foil Hat

And unless you’re planning on picking up a WiFi signal via a tinfoil hat or the fillings in your teeth, you’ll likely avail yourself of some help from one of the web’s many WiFi hotspot finders. I reviewed the first thirty of them from Google’s search results for “wifi hotspots”. I looked at how comprehensive each of these sites was by trying to find at least one WiFi hotspot in or near the microtown in which I live here in Rhode Island. Note: most RI residents have never even heard of the town because … well you could probably fit the entire population inside a phone booth. It’s about the size of one NYC city block. It’s not a scientific analysis, sure; but it’s something, right?

Frankly, most of the sites were garbage. They’re either littered with ads, the search is horrendous, or some Frankenstein combination of the two. With these four as a starting point though, I’m fairly confident you won’t need to look anywhere else:

  1. JWire’s Wi-Fi Hotspot Finder – The granddaddy of them all. Well designed site. Worldwide. Few ads – most unobtrusive. Free and paid hotspots. Found 13 hotspots within 5 miles of my house!
  2. Google Maps – Seems like you can find anything here these days. Visit maps.google.com. Click the “Find Businesses” tab below the search box. Type “wifi hotspot” in the first box and your address or zip/postal code in the second. And away you go! Found 12 hotspots near my house. Worldwide of course. Minimal ads. Lists free and paid hotspots.
  3. MSN WiFi Hotspot Locator. Found twelve hotspots within five miles of my house. Worldwide. No ads. Really great mapping feature that takes up the whole page. Free and paid hotspots.
  4. AnchorFree – Shows only free WiFi hotspots, so their list is less comprehensive. But at least you know you’re not paying for it. Map indicates a heavy bias towards U.S. and Canada, but a good start nonetheless. None within five miles of my house, but I’m listing it here mainly because … did I mention they’re all free?

Anyone else have recommendations? Did I miss anything?

Photo via Diver.net

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