The geographic boundary covered by a Wi-Fi (802.11) wireless access point. Typically set up for Internet access, anyone entering the hotspot with a Wi-Fi-based laptop, PDA or smartphone can connect to the Internet, providing the access point is configured to advertise its presence (beaconing) and authorization is not necessary. If authorization is required, the user must know the password. In addition to Internet access, all shared folders on everyone's computer in the network are also accessible.|
The Network Name May Be Hidden
An access point is invisible if it is not advertising its presence (not beaconing). To gain access, a user must know the network name (see SSID) and most likely the password as well.
According to JWire, Inc., at the end of 2009, there were more than a quarter million public hotspots around the world. However, every home or business Wi-Fi network is a hotspot, and if the wireless router is left in its default state, which advertises its presence and does not require a password, it too is inadvertently a public hotspot.
Following are some of the Web sites that report the whereabouts of public hotspots. Contrast with notspot. See hotspot finder, Wi-Fi, access point, mobile hotspot, cellular hotspot, war driving and Muni Wi-Fi.
Even local supermarkets offer Wi-Fi to encourage customers to linger in their cafes.