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Show HN: 500,000 free WiFi hotspots plotted around the world (getwi.fi)
153 points by rgawdzik on Feb 27, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 72 comments



This is not mapping free WiFi hotspots. This is mapping open Wifi hotspots.

They are not the same.

For example, KPN in the Netherlands is not free, and xfinity wifi in the USA is not free.

For this to have any sort of credibility, there needs to be a discriminant filter mapping truly free vs open hotspots.

For me this current map is too noisy to be of value. Try using it for free internet, and you too may run into disillusionment and frustration.


One other level of classification that is missing here is "Free, but requires a local phone number."

Oftentimes, the operator will send you an SMS with a one-time password, but they require a local phone number to send it to. Or they use your phone number to de-anonymize you, so it must be a phone number from their local country.

When traveling, this makes these "open" access points effectively useless, unless you decide to spoof another person's MAC address.


A quick burner phone purchase when traveling could help, no? I'm not sure how common they are in other countries but in the US prepaid disposable phones are available at almost any convenience store.


Great point! I hate these kinds the most! Common on the Copenhagen metro


This kind of map actually needs some minimal classification. There are actually flavors between free and open wifi.

For instance, how would you categorize a wifi in an airport which needs you to fill a random form/survey (not paying anything) to access the Internet? Same question if it is then limited to something like 10 minutes (and you then need to pay, or just trick on your macaddr/dhcpname/...)? In these case, you can actually access the Internet for free, but they are extremely annoying.

Note: these kind of wireless network are actually very common in some places


You are right. I already removed the xfinity hotspots. We'll be adding a feedback form into our web + mobile app so non-free or low quality APs can be removed.


Don't remove them, just tag them and adjust tags based on votes. Also, always consider the threat of abuse.


I suggest you allowing tagging of each hotspot and assigning some sort of label to each hotspot. Thanks!

Some crucial filters:

1. Free vs Non-Free

2. Free time limit

Some nice-to-haves:

1. Average bandwidth

2. Cost per unit time


Also 'BTOpenzone/BT WiFi/BT FON' networks in the UK. Absolute rips as well for price.


I'd never pay additional money for them, but as a BT customer it's handy being able to use them now and again.


Doesn't Starbucks use BTOpenzone?


SSID is `BTWifi-Starbucks`.


Oh okay. In Germany they use "BTOpenzone".


You can also remove all the "STCP | PortoDigital" networks in Porto, Portugal, which are WiFi hotspots in the public buses. Interesting map!

(Disclaimer: I work for the company who implemented that network.)


Also consider setting a time-to-live for each hotspot.

They come and go.

Also mark 'expired' and 'verified' hotspots as such. Most will be unverified, of course.


Id also want to know which hotspots I can actually use safely.


None, unless you use a VPN with an endpoint you trust.


Use HTTPS or VPN to a secure endpoint.


Looks really great - love the web view of WiFi density, and great to see more efforts in this space.

We've built something similar at OpenSignal. Our WifiMapper [1] app on iOS and Android has a database of over 2 million networks, and we're also crowdsourcing a database of passwords and connection speeds.

[1] https://www.wifimapper.com/


I'm always glad to see maps using OpenStreetMap data over Google Maps.

I always find it fun to look over the edits I've made, and it helps point out where more detail would be useful for different use cases.


In case anyone can't find the Netherlands, I could understand why: http://i.snag.gy/7vbiZ.jpg

This also explains why I'm so frustrated with WiFi abroad: I probably got spoiled here. Here we can find WiFi in the most unlikely of places (e.g. supermarkets, buses); in Germany you can find one in a coffee shop if you're lucky, but that one is probably paid as well, just like all the other ones.


What also hinders open Wi-Fi adoption in Germany is a law called "Störerhaftung", which basically states that the owner of the Wi-Fi is liable for all damages that users of his Wi-Fi do, for example filesharing, hacking, whatever. Keeping track of all users is not an option that all free Wi-Fi operators have. I'm sure other countries have similar laws. Do The Netherlands not have such a law?


I just came across Airfy which apparently gets around this by tunnelling (I assume) all traffic and taking all legal liability and risk. I've also read that this Stoererhaftung law is set to change this year, specifically to allow things like free WiFi in businesses.


IIRC there is an exception in the law for ISPs and Airfy registered as an ISP.


We're starting to see similar things in the UK. All our local bus companies now provide WiFi (and one has USB charging ports at every seat as well), and most large chain shops will provide WiFi. I never really use them myself as I have a pretty good data call on my mobile plan, but I know of some people who've dropped data entirely because they can just use WiFi.


I'd love to see this adjusted for population density -- what does a high wifi hotspots/person tell you?

Maybe just that the area is wealthier. So what if you adjust for wealth too?


In my area the data set isn't worth doing that with. It misses places that have free wifi and includes what looks like a personal cellular AP.


If an WiFi hotspot doesn't have a password doesn't mean it's free.


Yeap. Fonera APs are everywhere here in Portugal, but if you don't have one yourself, prepare your credit card.


Agreed, in the UK The Cloud isn't free


The Cloud is particularly awkward as sometimes it's free, but not always. I assume in the places it's free the people running the hotspot are paying rather than the end user.


Yes it is.


You need to signup & login but the account is free. Unlike Openzone or others which are not free (in $) for everyone.


A point of constructive criticism is that there are some inconsistencies in how large-scale public WiFi seems to be handled. For instance, in Ann Arbor, MI every University of Michigan building AFAIK has free public WiFi (as well as a private network for university affiliates). However, I only see a few listings for the "MGuest" network in the area. Is there a better feasible way of handling this?


Next door in Ypsi there seems to be only one point for Wireless Ypsi when the town is pretty well covered.


I'd probably go for some sort of area marking with a rough estimation of AP range, allowing wide area networks made up of many APs to show as one chunk of coverage.


Nice to see a Starbucks hotspot in the middle of Thames river (London)... doesn't show the depth ;)



I am redirected to https://meshable.io/map which is a blank page. I even disabled uBlock and refreshed the page and still saw nothing.

All I can see if a hand for a cursor, and my right click button is disabled to even check on the source.


Is your browser compatible? http://caniuse.com/#search=gl


Apparently not. I am using the latest Firefox which is only partially compatible with webgl.


I forwarded this problem to Mapbox, thanks for letting me know!


239,989,522 wifi networks: https://wigle.net


A problem with wigle (and maybe others) it it's showing every portable mobile wifi hotspot which are extremely common in Japan. If you're trying to find all the places someone who owns that hotspot has been maybe that's useful info but usually it's not that useful. Zoomed in to the maximum level there's so many SSIDs it's unreadable.


Nice work! This reminds me to something I tried a while ago:

https://wiffinity.com

They basically provide the same thing but as a crowdsourced list of truly free hotspots and you can connect to them through the app. Only available as a native app though...


This isn't working for me, after I zoom in past a certain level, all the blue dots just disappear. Clicking a city name search result zooms in so far that the map goes blank (presumably it's past the available tile sets) Tested in Safari and Chrome


That shouldn't be the case. Mind sending specifics about your browser/OS and city queries to help@mapbox.com and we can take a look?


Is it really free if you're using a hotspot named NETGEAR? Because I'm assuming that one isn't really open on purpose.

EDIT: Removed part about trailer court. I was wrong. That's actually a restaurant next to a trailer court. Nice place, too.


What is the source of this data? As I see my tier 3 city also has few free wifi listed here.


Probably gathered from the app of https://meshable.io/?

The website is light on details, but it's probably a commercial WiFi-sharing company, like a commercial version of Freifunk (a mostly german initiative where people openly share their WiFi, and meshing is used to extend coverage when a direct internet uplink isn't available), with the interesting twist that they're using an app instead of a custom WiFi access point firmware.

I wonder if they route traffic through open Wifis if any are in the vicinity and then charge for it.


We aggregated from a bunch of private sources.


Like what?


I've seen some I added myself with Instabridge (another WiFi sharing app), the location of some of the networks are wrong because the app messed up sometimes (my school network is also located at my house for example).


Bad data set. You are missing most of the free wifi spots in my town, but do show a number of people who just haven't secured their routers.


Searching by zip code zooms the map into areas 20-40 miles outside of the actual area code. At least that was my experience with the 2 that I tried.


Try by street; We are using Mapbox's geocoding API so it's a bit inaccurate compared to Google's.


Hmmm I get the feeling that one of your 'sources' for the db comes from the users who have already installed your app. Just a tin-foil-hat hunch based on the density of nodes in certain areas (read: certain routes). Too bad 60%+ are HP-Printers or vmguests...either way it'd pay to clean all that up if you're promoting that they're free/open hotspots.


Not all of these Wifi APs are "Free" and its partial in a lot of spots. Still, good effort.


I've had two open ones for years that didn't make the map :(.


Any theories on why China has a notably less dense distribution?


Are those providing internet access, or just unprotected networks ?


Unprotected networks.... the one near me in Singapore requires a local national id card for login


pretty sure the latter. I've seen printers, chromecasts, ...


Wrong question.

I don't care where I can find free WiFi. Nowadays, every damn coffee shop, hotel or mall has free Wifi—I care about fast and free WiFi with speedy up- & downloads and low latency. Well executed implementation though.

EDIT: Why the downvote?


EDIT: Why the downvote?

I didn't downvote you, but your post did sound rude to me. Finding free wifi may be easy where you live, but it's not the "wrong question" for many others.

I live in an European country, and while the bigger cities are well served, smaller towns and rural areas often only have one place, if that. If I didn't have a Fonera account, I'd be spending a lot of time looking for hotspots.


Yup, 100% agree. We actually know the speeds of a minority of these APs. We'll be bumping them up in the searches + advertising their speeds soon.


Sounds great and looking forward!


I don't care about fast nearly as much as I care about it not having ridiculous hoops I have to jump through to get connected. I just want to connect to the network and be on without having to first have my requests intercepted by their system until I register or click "connect". I suppose maybe this falls under "well executed implementation", but I think it deserves to be mentioned specifically.


How do I zoom out?


Jeah, I found the lack of zoom control also a problem.

shit+rightclick or shift+leftclick works also


Mousewheel.


Impressive bit of work but I couldn't help but think the title should be:

Show HN: 500,000 free places to get hacked plotted around the world




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