Hotspot Access

What is it?

The term hotspot generally means an area where a wireless network is available to access the internet. While they have been around for a few years, they are only becoming available in Ireland slowly.

Where is it available?

Several providers have rolled out the service. It is generally available in Hotels, Airports, restaurants, pubs and other public places. It is targeted at business travellers to a large extent.

How does it work?

Providers install a wireless access point in a public area and link it to the internet using one of many technologies. Typically, the technology used is called 802.11b or WiFi (Wireless Fidelity). This technology was initially developed for wirelessly enabling office networks to allow easier access to the network and mobility within the office.

Many laptops and some PDA's (Palm and PocketPC devices particularly) come with this technology built in today. Alternatively, a card can be purchased to add on the most devices to enable a connection.

Once the device is in range of the network, typically less than 100 metres, a connection can be made. The most common method of authentication on the network is to open a web browser on the device. It automatically brings the user to a screen welcoming them to the network and suggesting different ways to pay for access.

What does it cost?

One time costs:

Many notebooks and other devices come enabled today. Notably, Intel® Centrino® notebooks are designed around being able to access these networks and many hotspots are Centrino® certified. If the device doesn't include the hardware, an add on card can be bought for most notebooks for around €50 and for other devices with a compact flash or SD card slot for under €100.

Ongoing costs:

The cost to use various hotspots varies wildly. Some hotspots in Ireland are free to use during their introductory phase. Others are by the hour or day. Some hotels offer the service for free to guests.

Advantages and Disadvantages:


  • 1. It is convenient.
  • 2. It is relatively fast.
  • Disadvantages:

  • 1. It isn't widely available.
  • 2. Pricing can vary considerably.
  • 3. Roaming agreements between providers aren't in place yet.
  • 4. Security is an issue. All users at the same hotspot are sharing the same network. However, all users should be working behind a firewall on any always on connection and this will alleviate the risk.
  • 5. The quality of the network can suffer depending on the number of users at a hotspot and also the method used to connect it to the internet.

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