In the past, a Net cafe would offer computers on the premises for you to use to access the net. Now, many locations provide wireless access, so that you would bring your own computer or other device with wireless capability and use in the area where the wireless network is provided (the hotspot).
By the 21st century, some Net cafes or locations may still provide computers to customers, but these are gradually disappearing with the ubiquity of wireless devices and hotspots. Today, when you are looking to use public-access Internet, you'll likely be looking for WiFi hotspots.
Locating Public Net Access
You might find hotspots at cafes, hotels, restaurants, bars, airports, on a bus or other public transit, and other areas such as at public parks or public libraries.
Possible Access Spots
In using public WiFi, I suggest avoiding logging into Web sites for your sensitive financial or personal information. If you access your email, make sure that you use the https protocol (Install HTTPS Everywhere on your Web browser). Essentially, I don't login to any password-protected site while using my computer on a public WiFi network such as in a Net Cafe--I use a set of Surf Links (see about) for browsing Web sites on public WiFi networks.
If you get free wireless or computer access, be sure to be a good customer (buy food or drink) and follow use conditions.
- Your public library: Public access to the Internet, either through on-site computers or wireless access, is available in many public libraries.
- Wireless Hotspots in chain stores or local restaurants.
When ordering, ask if they offer free WiFi.
You may have to get a code to use the network--these codes
are usually on a slip of paper and given to you if you ask while
By 2010, I have found that many restaurants, particularly quick-service
restaurants and coffee shops, offer free WiFi.
Bring your WiFi-capable computer
and check for wireless networks.
At places where a code is needed, I have found that a time
limit of 2 hours to use the
network is placed on usage
(which is very reasonable, I think).
Many national chains that offer free WiFi in many of their
restaurants don't require a code to access the network.
- Panera Bread (free)
- Starbucks (free)
- McDonald's (free)
- Barnes & Noble (free)
- Subway (free)
- Schlotzsky's (free)
- Krystal (free)
- Tully's Coffee (free)
- Caribou Coffee (check site if free)
- Whole Foods (check site if free)
- Bruegger's (check site if free)
- Corner Bakery (check site if free)
- Buffalo Wild Wings (check site if free)
- Atlanta Bread
- Check your local, independently-run cafe or restaurant (see, for example, delocator.net)
- Businesses offering Net access; computers on-site in some cases; examples:
Directories and Information
- maps.google.com: enter your location of interest and search for "free wifi"
- Internet Cafe: reference entry: gives background about the late-20th century emergence of Net Cafes; historical interest.
Using Web-Based Services
In using a Net cafe computer, you can set yourself up with Web-based email and other services. With Web-based email and file storage, you can send and receive messages and access your data from any Internet-connected computer in the world.
- Gmail and Docs & Spreadsheets are popular Web-based services from Google.
- Social Networks: Many online social networks offer Web-based email and many other services.
- Your Internet Service Provider usually offers you access to Web-based email for your account and also online file storage, but I would not use the email address, because when you change Internet Service providers, then you'll have to inform everyone of a new email address. Either use Gmail or some other kind of Web-based email that you can keep indefinitely or your own domain name or permanent email address.
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