Connecting to public Wi-Fi


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Connecting to public Wi-Fi

A family tree research trip to the library, complete with tablet device

What's coming up

In this activity, we'll explain how to go about finding and connecting to a public Wi-Fi network.

You'll learn which places are mostly likely to have public Wi-Fi, how to get the details you need to join the network, and how to get your device online.

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Free Wi-Fi

If a location has public Wi-Fi, it is usually advertised with a sign showing a Wi-Fi symbol. Sometimes it is called Free Wi-Fi but Free Hot-Spot is also common, or the sign might just say Get Online or Get Connected.

Ask at the counter if you're in a shop, or ask at an information booth if you're in a shopping centre. If Wi-Fi is available, the attendant will help you get connected.

A free Wi-Fi poster often seen in caf├ęs, libraries and shopping centres
A typical sign explaining the username and password for a local cafe's free Wi-Fi

Finding the instructions

Smaller locations, such as coffee shops, might include a How to Connect card on every table, or at the pay counter. Ask a staff member for Wi-Fi instructions if you can't find them.

The instructions will give you a step-by-step guide to connecting to the shop's Wi-Fi. The card will also tell you if there are any restrictions on which parts of the internet you can use, or if you need to ask for a network name and password.

Places to find public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi isn't quite a standard offering for every shop, yet. Some places are more likely to have public Wi-Fi than others.

Your local library will almost definitely have some kind of Wi-Fi available. You might need your library card to access the network or sign an agreement that you won't do bad things online.

A list of places where free public Wi-Fi is usually found
A mobile phone showing the Wi-Fi settings with the local cafe's Wi-Fi network selected

How to join public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi works in the same way as your home Wi-Fi, and you make the connection using the same steps.

  • Open the Wi-Fi settings on your device and find the list of Wi-Fi networks your device can detect.
  • Choose the name of the public Wi-Fi from the list.
  • If it asks for a username and password, you can find these on the provided instructions, or ask at the counter.
  • Your device will connect.

Joining a public Wi-Fi network on a smartphone

Watch the short video on the next slide on how to join a public Wi-Fi network on a smartphone.

Well done!

Welcome to the end of the Connecting to public Wi-Fi activity. You've learned the basics of how to find a public Wi-Fi network and get connected using your device.

Next, we'll go into some more detail about how to stay safe on public Wi-Fi, and some dos and don'ts of using it. That's in the Staying safer using public Wi-Fi activity.

A hotel room with their Wi-Fi information card next to a cup of tea on the desk