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How to use Wi-Fi Hotspots

02 February 2012, 13:42

Wireless (Wi-Fi) Hotspots are becoming pervasive across South Africa, providing a viable connectivity option when you’re not using ADSL at work or at home.

While many Kenyans use mobile broadband to connect to the Internet when they’re on the go, it comes with a cost implication as 3G is not the cheapest option. 3G can also be problematic from a streaming and download speed point of view as 3G networks become congested.

With access to spectrum for mobile data connectivity becoming increasingly scarce, the international trend is for mobile operators to offload mobile broadband traffic onto Wi-Fi networks. This is something we could well see happening locally soon.

"Accessing the Internet via 3G can become very expensive, especially if you’re using bandwidth intensive applications on your desktop, cellphone, laptop or tablet," says Carolyn Holgate from MWEB Connect. "In addition, the quality of the 3G-connection may be compromised if you’re not in a reasonably close proximity to a cellular tower.  This is not the case with a Wi-Fi hotspot, which provides a far more stable connection."

Where can you find Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi hotspots have mushroomed to some sites as some providers are giving their customers free access to a network of almost 600 hotspots including airports, restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, conference centers and shopping malls around the country.

Many offices have now implemented wireless networks. If you have a Wi-Fi capable ADSL router at home, you can also turn your home into a secure Wi-Fi zone and use this connectivity for your devices at home. Together with a growing number of public Wi-Fi hotspots, this means many people only use 3G to connect to the Internet while on the road or away from a wireless connection.
From a security point of view,a few basic precautions will ensure reasonable safety when using public Wi-Fi hotpots. This includes ensuring your access point is set up with Wireless Protected Access (WPA2) authentication and you’re not using any sensitive sites in hot spots like Internet Banking.

5 Tips to make Wi-Fi hotspots work for you:
1.    Look out for national restaurant chains and hotels like Java and Hotels that offer Wi-Fi hotspots so you can easily stay connected.

2.    Steer clear of using Internet banking or payment sites when using a Wi-Fi hotspot to avoid potential phishing threats and rare cases of login information theft.

3.    Ensure your firewall and antivirus programs are up to date and check that file sharing is not enabled on your laptop.

4.    If you regularly access online accounts through Wi-Fi hotspots, use a virtual private network (VPN), which encrypts traffic between your computer and the Internet, even on unsecured networks.

5.    File and printer sharing is a feature that enables other computers on a network to access resources on your computer. When you are using your mobile device in a hotspot, it's best to disable file and printer sharing.

Did you know that you can also use the internet to get that dream job?

- Women24

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