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Wireless Home Networking For Dummies - Danny Briere.pdf
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298 Part IV: Using a Wireless Network

related gear that can offer different tiers of speeds (you could pay more to get a faster connection) or that can offer secure connections to corporate networks (so that you can safely log onto the office network to get work files).

In the next sections of this chapter, we talk about some of the most prominent commercial hot spot providers operating in the United States. We’re not going to spend any time talking about the smaller local hot spot providers out there, although many of them are hooking up with companies like Boingo. We’re not down on these smaller providers, but we’re aiming for the maximum bang for our writing buck. So if you’ve got a local favorite that meets your needs, go for it!

Using T-Mobile Hot Spots

The biggest hot spot provider in the United States today — at least in terms of companies that run their own hot spots — is T-Mobile (www.t-mobile.com). T-Mobile has hot spots up and running in over 2,000 locations, primarily at Starbucks coffee shops in over 20 states. T-Mobile got into the hot spot business when it purchased the assets of a startup company named Mobilestar, which made the initial deal with Starbucks to provide wireless access in these coffee shops.

T-Mobile has branched out beyond Starbucks and currently is also offering access in American Airlines Admirals Clubs in a few dozen airports as well as a handful of other locations. T-Mobile charges $29.99 a month for unlimited local access (meaning at any T-Mobile location in your town) and $39.99 monthly for national unlimited access. A monthly download limit is imposed; if you download more than 500MB of data a month, you’ll have to pay a small charge (a quarter) for each additional MB. And if you don’t have the national plan, you’ll pay 15 cents per minute of online time when you’re using the service remotely.

T-Mobile also offers some corporate accounts (for those forward-thinking companies that encourage their employees to drink quadruple Americanos during working hours. . . Danny, are you listening?), prepaid account options, and pay-as-you-go plans.

To try T-Mobile hot spots out for free, register on T-Mobile’s site at www. t-mobile.com/hotspot.

T-Mobile, like most hot spot companies, uses your Web browser to log you in and activate your service. You need to set the Service Set Identifier (SSID) in your wireless network adapter’s client software to tmobile to get on the network. (Check out Part III of the book for information on how to do this on your laptop or handheld.)

Chapter 16: Going Wireless Away from Home 299

Using Wayport Hot Spots

Another big commercial hot spot provider is Wayport (www.wayport.com). Wayport has made business travelers its number one focus: The company has hot spots in over 475 hotels and in 10 major airports nationwide. Besides just offering Wi-Fi access, Wayport offers wired Internet access in many hotels and airports. (You’ll see Wayport Laptop Lane kiosks in many airports when you scurry from your security strip search to the gate.)

Wayport, like T-Mobile, offers a range of service plans, ranging from one-time, pay-as-you-go plans using your credit card to prepaid calling card plans. You can sign up as an annual customer for $29.95 a month (if you sign up for a year’s worth of service; otherwise, it’s $49.95 for a month-to-month plan) to get unlimited access to any of Wayport’s Wi-Fi locations nationwide. Wayport also offers corporate plans, so consider bribing your IT manager if you travel a lot.

Like T-Mobile, Wayport uses your Web browser to authenticate you and collect your billing information. You need to set your SSID to Wayport_Access to get logged onto the access port.

Using Boingo Hot Spots

Boingo (www.boingo.com) made a big splash in 2002 when the company launched because it was the first company to bring a solution to the hot spot roaming issue. Boingo doesn’t own its own network of hot spots; instead, it has partnered with a lot of other hot spot providers (including Wayport, which we discuss in the preceding section). Boingo provides you, the user, with some cool software, giving you access to all the hot spots of its partners with a single account, a single bill, and not too much hassle on your part.

As of this writing, Boingo has over 1,000 hot spots up and running on its network. Like the other providers, Boingo offers monthly plans ($24.95 for a plan that allows ten connections a month; $49.95 for unlimited access) as well as pay-as-you-go plans and corporate accounts. (Keep buttering up the IT manager at work!)

The big difference between Boingo and the other services is that Boingo uses its own software to control and manage the connection process. You download the Boingo software (available for most Windows computers and also for Pocket PC handhelds) and use the software to sign on to a Boingo hot spot. This approach has its limitations: For example, not all Wi-Fi cards work with the Boingo software — see a list of compatible cards on its Web site. However,