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Wireless (Apple) Wireless Networking Hardware

iPhone Free WiFi Is Back 77

Posted by samzenpus
from the everyone-loves-free-stuff dept.
scorp1us writes "iPhone users used to be able to get free Wifi from AT&T hot spots, including Starbucks locations. The service was pulled because of the browser-agent hack. Now the service is being re-launched, this time with a link sent via SMS to the iPhone for the hotspot, valid for 24 hours."
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iPhone Free WiFi Is Back

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  • And... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mewshi_nya (1394329) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @07:48PM (#25563039)

    Who the hell cares? Free wifi. I can get that pretty much anywhere.

    What, is this like "Oh, it has the word "iPhone" in it, so we HAVE to put it up front!" ?

    • Re:And... (Score:5, Informative)

      by c_forq (924234) <forquerc+slash@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @07:55PM (#25563139)
      I used to think this too. Than I got a job that required me to travel a lot, and discovered you can't count on getting free WiFi all of the time. If you are in a college town you are usually set, but I've even been burned there before.
      • Re:And... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SydShamino (547793) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @08:21PM (#25563429)

        Indeed. We took my iPod Touch (and my wife's iPhone) with us to Austria and Germany for a vacation earlier this month, and were quite dismayed to find very few hotspots at all, and none free anywhere we went, from little town to major city like Vienna or Munich. Only the last three of our hotels (of seven) offered wifi for guests - and that was all we had.

        (Perhaps there were hotspots in other places in the towns, away from the city centers and other public places that we visited. But without reliable web access we couldn't find them.)

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          JiWire [jiwire.com] provides a list of (international) wifi hotspots, and the site detects iPhones and presents an optimized search interface.

          • by JamesP (688957)

            Adn how are we supposed to get to that site when we don't have an internet connection in the first place!!! :P

        • In Italy I understand its legally frowned upon to have free wifi (i was there for a month). At net-cafes they are required to ID you in case of 'terrorists'. The first time I laughed because I thought he was joking (I'm a italian university student from canada so it wasn't racism). But across the country in numerous towns they were dead serious about it. I found maybe a few dozen free wifi spots after a month traveling the country.

        • by am 2k (217885)

          Freewave [freewave.at] is a WLAN hotspot provider here in Austria, where you can get totally free Internet in many restaurants without having to freeride on some private Internet user's account.

      • And it sure beats paying 20 bucks for 7 hours of access in the airport when your flight leaves in 2.
    • The days of ubiquitous free open WiFi are long gone. Newer WiFi routers usually enable WPA or at least WEP encryption by default now. AT&T has been rolling out their 2Wire WiFi routers with at least WEP enabled for at least 2 or 3 years now. When I moved into my neighborhood I counted 8 or 9 open access points and today there are zero that are not protected by some form of encryption.

      I don't remember the last time I stayed in a hotel that offered free WiFi that didn't require you to access it through

    • Agreed, and since when did ATT partner with Startbucks? I have been to countless ones "looking" for free wifi and only found T-mobile hot spots. Am i missing something?
      • by all5n (1239664)

        AT&T has been transitioning all the Starbucks from T-Mobile to their network. The T-Mobile/Starbucks contract ends on January 4, 2009. Up until that point, AT&T must broadcast the tmobile SSID at Starbucks locations.

        Because they rolled out the "free access with a cup of coffee" at locations where T-Mobile was still the provider (without asking T-Mobile first or compensating them in any way), T-Mobile sued the pants off of them and forced them to allow roaming and UMA access at Starbucks for anothe

  • News Flash (Score:4, Informative)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @07:53PM (#25563115) Homepage Journal

    Starbucks is still trying to charge for WiFi.
    I will meet you all at the Atlanta Bread Company, Panera Bread, or any of a number of other places that offer over priced coffee and Free WiFi.

    • by Tyketto (97265)

      Starbucks is still trying to charge for WiFi. I will meet you all at the Atlanta Bread Company, Panera Bread, or any of a number of other places that offer over priced coffee and Free WiFi.

      It is probably because the Starbucks you went to is still a T-Mobile Hotspot [starbucks.com]. The one near my office is offers both T-Mobile and ATT WiFi. Also, from TFA, the store has to be US Company operated. YMMV if it is independently operated.

      • YMMV if it is independently operated.

        There are no independently operated Starbucks stores.

        • by flink (18449)

          There are no independently operated Starbucks stores.

          There is one right next to me in the Marriot Hotel in Boston. It's run by the hotel, not Starbucks corporate. It's a pain too, because they don't participate in a lot of the promotions, so you always get people in front of you in line arguing about some buy X get 1 free that the hotel franchise isn't honoring.

          • I stand corrected. I've only seen the kiosks or mini-bars that are affiliated with another business (Albertson's, Safeway, etc), not a full stand alone store that is independent. I didn't think they were allowing that.

            • FYI, from Starbucks site:

              Does Starbucks franchise?
              Starbucks does not franchise operations and has no plans to franchise in the foreseeable future.

              In North America, the majority of our stores are Company-operated. As an exception, Starbucks may enter into licensing arrangements with companies who provide access to real estate which would otherwise be unavailable such as airport locations, national grocery chains, major food services corporations, college and university campuses and hospitals.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by WillyDavidK (977353)
      Actually all you have to do to get free Wi-Fi at starbucks is use gift card the next time you buy something. You can register the card online and they give you a free wi-fi account. The account expires if you don't use the gift card for over a month.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NateTech (50881)

      Not to mention the food is a hell of a lot better at both, and so is the amount of space, the furniture, hell... everything.

      The only thing Starbucks has going for it now is that it overbuilt stores, and is bloody everywhere. The coffee and "ambiance" aren't going to hold up in this market... and many will close.

      Hell, if they're in your area, most Caribou Coffee shops are way nicer to hang out in than Starbucks.

      They were the trendsetter, the also-rans now have studied them and are coming to kick their ass.

    • Because I walked into the Smyrna location just the other day and my iPod Touch connected instantly without any issue.

      I haven't been in a local Atlanta area Starbucks that required me to do anymore than turn the device on.

    • Starbucks is still trying to charge for WiFi.

      Give me a WLAN card with a programmable MAC and at least one paying customer to piggyback, and they can try all they want.

      • Give me a WLAN card with a programmable MAC and at least one paying customer to piggyback, and they can try all they want.

        What happens to all the unrequested return packets, do most OS's have little trouble discarding them?

  • Hack?! Ha. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @08:03PM (#25563213)

    Hack? I hardly call changing your User Agent a hack.

    This should read:

    "The service was pulled because of poorly implemented security."

    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      Hack? I hardly call changing your User Agent a hack.

      This should read:

      "The service was pulled because of poorly implemented security."

      What security?

  • No Fair (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    What about iPod touch?

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What about it? The iPhone gets free wifi because they're paying through the nose to AT&T for cellular service. Why would the iPod Touch get something from AT&T? Because Apple's 'cool'?
  • Australia Rocks (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    In Australia iPhone users are able to get free Wifi from Telstra hot spots, including all McDonalds, All Airports locations. A 6 digit key sent via SMS to the iPhone for the hotspot, what is better, you can put the key into your computer at the same hotspot and have free internet!

    • In Australia iPhone users are able to get free Wifi from Telstra hot spots, including all McDonalds, All Airports locations. A 6 digit key sent via SMS to the iPhone for the hotspot, what is better, you can put the key into your computer at the same hotspot and have free internet!

      Never mind that national firewall [slashdot.org] we just read about.

      • by GaryPatterson (852699) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @02:19AM (#25565801)

        Yes, because appaearing an a Slashdot story means it has been implemented.

        It's on the government's drawing board, and they're rightly copping a lot of flak for the plan. Business will soon weigh in with the "crippled Internet equals crippled business" line, and the plan will never see the light of day.

        The system works, and Australia does, in fact, rock.

  • Yeah... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Facegarden (967477) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @08:30PM (#25563521)

    I found out because AT&T texted me to let me know that my iphone could now get free WiFi... But they aren't supposed to know i even have one... i don't have an iPhone plan, i bought my original iPhone from apple, then took it home and unlocked/activated it without ever agreeing to a new contract. Looks like they're recognizing my IMEI... I really wish i could change that, but none of the programs seem to work with the new firmwares! :-/
    The worst part is, since they know i have an iPhone, they block MMS even with a hacked phone running an MMS program, but even though they know i have an iPhone, i don't get visual voicemail!
    -Taylor

    • by Kagura (843695)
      Visual voicemail is an AT&T service, so why would you expect get it with a different provider?

      I'm mortified about the cake incident. Simply mortified!
      • Visual voicemail is an AT&T service, so why would you expect get it with a different provider?

        I'm mortified about the cake incident. Simply mortified!

        No, i have AT&T, just not an iPhone plan. I already had a contract with a data package and i didn't feel like agreeing to a new contract.
        -Taylor

        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          and you decided to pay more as a result?

          slashdot is filled with idiots these days I tell ya. this place used to be where all the smart kids hang out...

        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          You can't buy an iPhone without a contract. And non-iPhone SIM cards don't work in the locked iPhone. This means that Apple most likely signed you up for a new contract in the store with your existing number - without you realizing it.

          Check your AT&T account online and see if there are any clues.

          Also: do you realize the silliness of hacking the phone and then complaining that it doesn't work properly?

          • You can't buy an iPhone without a contract.

            This was not always the case; prior to (i think) the 3G release it was possible to buy an iPhone directly from apple without agreeing to anything provider related.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by geemon (513231)

      AT&T needs to specifically provision the visual voicemail on your plan. I don't know, but I don't think it is tied specifically to the iPhone data plan.

      When I switched to the iPhone, the initial rep failed to provision the visual voicemail service to my plan. It took a separate call for them to provision it properly.

      • My apologies for being too lazy to check with AT&T, but what's visual voicemail? I have a 3G iPhone and I have no info about this.
  • Iphone Free Wifi? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Zibri (1063838)

    One could easily read that as "wifi free from iphone". A part of me died when i read the summary.

  • I pay $60/mo for unlimited data via my USB card, which is 300% more per month than the iPhone user who pays $20/mo. Is it unfair to expect the same(if not 300% better) treatment from AT&T? Where's my free wifi? Is it really too much to ask?
    • I think the basic idea is that the iPhone user will be using less bandwidth than someone with an unlimited data plan on their laptop (or, for that matter, a cell phone + tethering). Most people don't want to do all their internet on their cell phone.

      Also of note, the iPhone 3G plan is $30/month, so you're only paying double. ;-)

      So your options are to 1. get an iPhone, 2. get AT&T DSL (which offers a similar benefit), or 3. pay per-use or per-month.

      Of course, you'd think they'd want you to use wifi rath

  • I sure thought that said "IPhone Free Wife" at first and thought,"Oh what a relief! Finally an Apple product for the 21st Century husband!"

  • Tmobile and the G1 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gearloos (816828) on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @10:29PM (#25564523)
    Noboy has equated this to the latest. Tmobile is now offering free wifi for G1 users (at least)nationwide. I know... here it comes.. all the trash about Tmobile has only 22 3G markets etc... Well, I have a G1, I live in 1 of those markets and here, it is awesome. Some kind of coincidence.
  • by maggard (5579) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Wednesday October 29, 2008 @11:17PM (#25564855) Homepage Journal

    Same for G1 users.

    T-Mobile offers free unlimited access to all of their T-Mobile hotspots (which includes the new AT&T rebranded ones for another 5 years) to their G1 data plan subscribers. T-Mo even has a free GPS-enabled Hotspot Finder [t-mobile.com] for the G1 that handles the login details for you.

  • That'll be the first question I'll have... if I ever use it. I'd rather hang out at Panera Bread, Caribou Coffee, or a whole lot of other places than Starbucks.

    Oh yeah, I have WiFi at home, and coffee too. Wow. What a place! I'll be here...

    The only place it looks useful to me, if I were still traveling a lot, is at the airports.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Oh yeah, I have WiFi at home, and coffee too. Wow. What a place! I'll be here...

      That does sound like a rockin' place. I'll be there too. Where do you live?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by HTH NE1 (675604)

      Do they charge for the SMS?

      I've received promotional text messages from my phone company on my cell phone for which I have not been charged, so it is within the realm of possibility that standard text messaging rates will not apply to these messages.

  • SMS Charges? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Golddess (1361003)

    a link sent via SMS to the iPhone

    Anyone know if AT&T will charge you to receive that message?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This news in mind, I checked out two locations I passed by this morning.

    Both offer WiFi through T-Mobile.

  • Free public Wi-Fi connections are a security risk to a user. If the At&T connection is secured, and to be used only by AT&T customers, it could have some positive potential. My question is, if you are going to offer free Wi-Fi, why are you making me pay for internet over the 3G network on my phone. Might as well be free all accross the board.
    • You might be looking at this backwards. Your wifi is free because you're already paying for data from AT&T, so they're doing this as goodwill (to not charge you twice for the same basic service).

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