June 3, 2014
WiFi In Weird Places
As I am currently doing a tour of several countries, some of which might not be famous for their technological prowess, I am going through the process which many travelers will be familiar with: I am trying to connect to a different WiFi outlet every few days or even hours, and encountering not unpredictable problems (yeah, I know I should be out looking at amazing stuff, and I do, but everyone is allowed to connect for a while each day).
Although the problems have been predictable, where I have found them has not, really, and nor have the places where plain sailing – or surfing (to use an increasingly obsolete term) – has been smooth. This got me thinking about what WiFi surprises the world has, from unexpected free locations in our hometown, to connectivity in obscure corners of the globe.
By far the best connection I have had has been in Lithuania, which, no disrespect to the very lovely Lithuanians, may not be world-renowned for its cutting edge technology. Not only were things fast, but also connection options were everywhere. You could connect in major streets in town, outdoors, without the usual long, drawn out process of registering that similar schemes have elsewhere. I could also connect on the long distance coach I got from there, which also, incidentally, had back-of-the-seat screens with personal entertainment that worked more efficiently than most airlines’ do.
I was impressed in Moscow when my gigantic hotel of well over 1000 rooms was able to provide great wireless Internet service in all corners of the mammoth building. However, I have been let down at home in the UK, in Germany (where things got frustratingly sluggish) and in most airports — where I think a good stint of free browsing should be standard. The number of hotels where I have had to re-enter passwords every few minutes isn’t funny. Yeah, I know, first world problems, but I am talking about varieties of service within the Internet providing context. I am not saying my problems are the worst thing that has ever happened.
Okay, enough moaning about my tragic situation. Lifehacker points out that in the US, two increasingly common yet still surprising places to pick up free WiFi are courthouses and gas stations. Hopefully most of us spend more time at one of those than the other, but both are good to know. They also celebrate the increasing number of parks, buses, laundromats and museums offering the service (for checking info on what you are looking at, not for checking sports news when you are supposed to be being educated, you understand). Beaches and golf courses are now connected in the US, too.
On a more global scale, some surprising locations include remote Indian villages — which only got electricity within the last decade, let alone WiFi — and in the desert of the Holy Land as part of a biblical tour in Israel, where routers are hung around donkeys’ necks (really!). Much colder, but no less remarkable, are the connections on Everest (up to 17,000 feet) and the hotspot established by Moscow based technicians during their visit to the North Pole. One can find WiFi almost anywhere these days, it seems… except my hotels (violins).
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