What is Public Wireless LAN (WLAN)?
WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) is the standard for wireless broadband computer networks. It is already widely
deployed in enterprises and it is getting more and more popular as the standard for wireless Internet connections in public spaces.
The most common standard is IEEE 802.11b (also called 'Wi-Fi') which offers a connection speed of 11 megabits per second.
Other standards are 802.11a (55 megabits per second) and the latest standard '802.11g', which is compatible to 802.11b,
but also operates on 55 megabits per second.
What is a Hotspot?
A Public Wireless Hotspot is a area where a computer or PDA equipped with a WLAN module can connect to the Internet
through Wireless Access Points. A single Access Point can be reached from a distance of no more than 100-200
meters (300-600 ft.), but there also exist Hotspots constisting of hundreds of Access Points which cover entire Airports
What is a Wireless Operator (WISP)?
A WISP (Wireless Internet Service Provider) is a company which installs Hotspots and offers the user a unified access and
payment method for WLAN usage. Right now, WISPs are being founded all over the world because it is expected that in a few
years there are going to exist millions of public Hotspots all over the world.
What is a Wireless Community Network?
A community network is a non-profit organization which operates Hotspots which can be accessed free of charge. A lot of those networks exist
in residential areas with the goal to establish a free wireless infrastructure for everybody. Usually Community Networks are
local organizations of loosely coupled private Hotspots, but there also exist Community Networks which set up their own Hotspots
with money raised from public organizations.
How can I use Public WLAN?
If you own a laptop computer or a PDA with a built-in WLAN adapter or with a WLAN (Wi-Fi) PC-Card then you're ready to connect to
Hotspots all over the world. If you own a laptop without Wi-Fi, then you'll have to buy a PC card (will cost you less than $100)
to start wireless surfing.
If you want to set up your own public Hotspot you require a Access Point and a broadband Internet connection.