How to Get Free WiFi

Have you run out of data? Perhaps your work productivity requires new scenery? Maybe you’re travelling and you need to keep in touch with the folks at home? No matter your reason, having access to free WiFi can be very convenient – almost a necessity. The good news is that South Africa has recognized the importance of staying connected. More and more businesses are opening their networks to visitors, and there are even a few innovative apps available that can help you to track down the best WiFi hotspots.

In This Guide:

How to Get Free WiFi Near You

As millions of South Africans don’t have access to internet or data services, free WiFi has proven to be in the best interest of the population. Many internet providers and private enterprises have recognized this need and the service has become widespread throughout the provinces.

The question is, how do you find safe and secure WiFi hotspots near you?

You could start by contacting local businesses to see if they have a free network available. However, an easier method would be to use the internet or a WiFi scanning app to source a nearby free hotspot.

We’ve found the following websites and apps to be resourceful:

  • Always On – The “Always On” mobile app helps you to source nearby free hotspots and then connects you to them with less of a hassle.
  • Wiman – This is another mobile app that helps you to detect free WiFi. The app also has a setting that allows you to automatically connect to your favourite hotspots when you’re in their vicinity.
  • Wi-Fi Space – Wi-Fi Space gives you access to a detailed map of all available free WiFi points across the country.

Free WiFi HotSpots in South Africa

Most cities and large suburbs provide options when it comes to connecting to the internet for free. In areas such as Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban, you will easily come across stores, restaurants, and other businesses that provide customers with free access to their network. You’ll either be granted obligation-free access or you’ll be prompted to log in in exchange for your name, number, and your email address (which often means that you agree to be listed on the company’s database).

If you find yourself without data and desperately need to use the internet, keep the following free Wi-Fi access points in mind:

  • Select chain restaurants and coffee shops such as Mug & Bean, Starbucks, Spur, and Wimpy.
  • Certain petrol stations (give your nearest station a call to see if this is a service they offer).
  • Public libraries (all city libraries in South Africa provide the public with limited daily access to free WiFi).
  • Airports Company South Africa recently launched a free Wi-Fi service for passengers in the boarding areas of 9 SA airports.
  • Most hotels and B&Bs allow their guests to access their WiFi network for free.
  • Amafreezone has safe open access WiFi spots found in over 1000 locations nationwide.
  • AlwaysOn WiFi has a broad network across the country in most of the popular “hangout” spots.

How to Connect to WiFi Hotspots

Connecting to a WiFi spot is easy and most smartphones, tablets and laptops offer this type of connectivity. Before we talk you through the steps, let’s summarize what a hotspot is, exactly.

What is a hotspot?

A hotspot is a physical location where people can connect to the internet via a wireless local area network (WLAN). WiFi hotspots are convenient and they allow individuals to access the internet using mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

What is a mobile hotspot?

A mobile hotspot is where a smartphone or a mobile device is turned into a WiFi access point. Most modern devices feature a setting called “turn on WiFi hotspot”. When this setting is activated, then data is used to create a wireless connection that other devices can log onto.

Connect to a wireless hotspot by applying the following steps:

  • Press your menu button and navigate to settings
  • Select “Wireless and Networks”
  • Tap “WLAN” to turn your WiFi functionality on
  • Select the scan options so that your device can scan for nearby networks
  • Select the name of the network you would like to connect to
  • Enter the networks password (typically supplied by the network owner)
  • You should now be connected to a wireless network

The Dangers of Free WiFi

Free WiFi is great. It not only keeps you in touch with your people and up to date on world news, but it also provides those who cannot afford data an opportunity to access important resources. However, a free WiFi service doesn’t come without risk. Open hotspots aren’t as secure as private ones, so pay caution when sending sensitive information via a free network.

Make sure to apply the following precautionary measures to ensure safe browsing on a free wireless internet connection:

  • Make sure the acronym “HTTPS” appears in the address bar. The HTTPS acronym should also be accompanied by a locked padlock symbol and the word “secure”. These symbols vouch for a website’s safety and it’s best to avoid portals that do not offer this reassurance.
  • Update your antivirus software frequently. This software will alert you if are about download any unsafe material or visit comprised networks.
  • Use a VPN. VPNs will encrypt your private info so that it’s unreadable to anyone who tries to intercept your movements whilst browsing the internet. VPNs can be downloaded for free.

Do you need a cheap internet service?

If you prefer the idea of connecting to the internet from the confines of your own home, then the good news is that there are many cheap internet deals available across South Africa. From data bundles to ADSL and Fibre, the options are seemingly endless.

To find an internet plan that meets your budget, why not start by comparing quotes from ISPs in your area? You can use our free online quoting tool to draw a quick comparison between the different deals.

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