When will we have free WiFi everywhere

Free WiFi and hotspots - surf for free anywhere in Germany

Thomas Rau

The use of public WLANs is now regulated by law. You can use a hotspot and provide it yourself without any legal risk. We'll show you how to do it.

The freedom for WiFi is here! In mid-2017, the Bundestag passed the third law amending the Telemedia Act, which the Bundesrat did not object to in September. This rules out by law that providers of a public WLAN can be held responsible if someone uses this wireless network to download and distribute copyrighted content. You do not have to pay for damages or omission, nor for costs incurred by the author in asserting his rights. In addition, the WLAN operators are not obliged to protect the public hotspot with a password. After the end of the liability for interference, the chances are very good that there will be more and more public WLANs: This helps you to save mobile data volume when surfing with smartphone and tablet when you are on the move. Furthermore, when traveling, it is often the only way to go online with the notebook while on the move.

The risk of using a public WLAN is of course not reduced by the legal regulation: If you do not protect your mobile device, fellow surfers can record the radio traffic and access your files and passwords: We will show you how to prevent this and surf safely at the hotspot . You will also receive tips if you want to open up your WLAN to other surfers yourself.

EnlargeYou can find one near you at www.hotspot.de.

How to find a public WiFi network

There are a lot of public WLANs - but finding them all is not that easy: The apps and search programs of the hotspot providers only list their own WLANs. Tools that display all hotspots regardless of manufacturer are dependent on the cooperation of the community, which enters the locations of free WLANs in the databases. Therefore it makes sense to use several programs to search for public WLANs. If you are out and about, you can find hotspots in your area with an app for your smartphone: you can use the Facebook app to do this, for example. In their menu, which you can access on Android using the three lines at the top right, tap in the “Apps” section on “Show all” and then on “Find WLAN”. Telekom and Vodafone have Android and iOS apps for their own hotspots, the Telekom Online Manager and the Vodafone hotspot finder.

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If you would like to find out beforehand about the available WLANs at your destination, use the hotspot search on the providers' websites: Telekom hotspots, or free WLANs from Vodafone. On the Telekom side you should also activate the option “WLAN TO GO Hotspots” in the right column when searching for a location: You will then also see the public WLANs that private individuals make available via their Telekom router. You can also see hotspots in restaurants, hotels or airports that work with Telekom access points. You can find the free WiFi from Unitymedia at https://services.unitymedia.de/wifi.

In addition, many cities offer public and free WiFi in certain locations. For Munich, for example, you can find the relevant information at http://www.muenchen.de/leben/wlan-hotspot.html. If you are looking for non-commercial access points for public radio networks, you will find them at https://freifunk.net/.

EnlargeTelekom hotspot: The Online Manager app shows how long you can surf the public WLAN for free.

That costs surfing the public WLAN

You can use many public WLANs free of charge - especially those in public places or in public buildings, but also in restaurants, buses and trains. There are, however, restrictions: The WLAN operator can use filters to block certain Internet sites or services, or he can set a time or volume limit for surfing. Most Telekom hotspots allow you to surf for 30 minutes to an hour free of charge, and Vodafone hotspots at least 30 minutes per day. It is possible to surf the web for one to three hours in McDonalds restaurants. The train throttles its free WLAN in the second class after a data consumption of 200 MB, also with Flixbus there are access restrictions and a daily data limit. You can use public WLANs from certain providers free of charge if you share your own WLAN with others - you can find out how to do this under "Setting up your own WLAN as a hotspot".

You can surf longer or unlimited with special hotspot tariffs: The prices at Telekom (WLAN name: "Telekom") and Vodafone (WLAN name: "Vodafone Hotspot") are between around 5 and 30 euros (daily or Monthly flat rate). There are cheaper tariffs for mobile and landline customers of the respective provider, in some tariffs the use of the hotspots is also included, for example at Telekom with all Magenta-Mobil tariffs that have been concluded since April 2016.

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How to surf on a public WiFi network

Connect to the SSID of the WLAN via notebook or smartphone. You will then be redirected to a login page. If this does not happen, enter the address of any website in the browser. With free WiFi, you usually have to accept the terms of use on the home page, then you can start surfing. Some hotspots require registration by name and / or email address. For commercial WLANs, enter the access data that you received when you purchased a hotspot tariff on the login page. With a Telekom WLAN you can log in with your access data, which you use for the customer center, for example, or use the SIM card in the "Online Manager" app for authentication. If the use of a hotspot is included in your Telekom mobile phone tariff, you must send an SMS with the text OPEN to 9526 before logging in to activate the hotspot service.

This is how it works with Windows 10: Use public WiFi securely

Almost all public WLANs are insecure because they are not encrypted. This means that the data transmission can be intercepted and every computer in the public WLAN is exposed to attacks. In order to protect yourself, it is therefore essential to observe all the basic rules for safe surfing: First, install all security updates for the operating system and programs, and use reliable virus and malware protection. Do not use online services that require you to enter a password - and if you cannot do without, for example, with your mail account or internet banking, make sure that the website offers an encrypted https connection.

EnlargeMake sure Windows is using the public network profile.

In addition, only switch on the WLAN function of the smartphone when you want to connect to the hotspot, and switch it off again when you are no longer online: This way you do not stay longer than necessary in public WLAN and reduce the time that is available to a potential attacker. You also prevent the cell phone from connecting to a public WLAN without your knowledge: With many providers, the SSID of the different hotspots is identical: the computer sees a known WLAN, even if it is a different wireless network.

If you want to take the protection even further, you can use a secure browser such as TOR for surfing the public WLAN.

Reading tipSet up WLAN at home: it works with this hardware

VPN: This is the only way to really surf safely at the hotspot

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is the safest method for surfing in public WLAN - but it is also the most complicated to set up. But only then is the entire data traffic in the WLAN encrypted and unusable for an attacker. In addition, an eavesdropper does not even notice which websites you are connecting to.

EnlargeEncrypt your data traffic with a free VPN extension.