Updated: July 9, 2014
High speed Internet access can be a great tool that serves many different purposes. However, there are many people who only use the Internet on occasion and prefer not to pay for access to the Internet. What are the options?
In the current economy people are looking for all types of methods for saving money, including paying for an Internet connection. The good news is that new and emerging technologies are opening up more options for accessing a both a slower speed and high speed Internet connection for free.
If you are strapped for cash or simply prefer not to be locked into a monthly subscription for Internet access, there are a few different ways that you can get free Internet access. Depending upon where you are located, there are free Internet access services that have been around for some time now and still provide free access to the Internet. Other services ended up going bankrupt for one reason or another, plus there are also a few new options available.
Although most of the services that are still around, do not offer a superior quality Internet connection, for the most part these services may serve your needs if you are just interested in keeping in touch with friends using email or performing a few simple computing tasks.
To help you discover exactly what your options are, first, let’s take a look at a few of the services which have been around for some time that offer free Internet.
Free Internet Service Providers
There are Internet Service Providers that offer free access to the Internet for a specified number of hours per month in exchange for your permission to display ads in your browser. Since Internet access is free, the ISP makes their money from advertising. Here are a few Internet Service Providers that offer free Internet access:
NetZero offers free Internet access if you do not mind the banner ads. You can browse the Web with the service for free and for up to 10 hours each month. Although NetZero is dial-up, they offer thousands of access numbers to ensure that you are able to get online and they offer a reliable connection. To ensure that Internet access is free, be aware when you choose a number to establish connectivity, you may incur long distance charges on your telephone bill.
If completely free Internet is not a priority and you do not mind paying a little for a faster Internet connection, NetZero has recently upgraded their services to include DSL and mobile broadband. The DSL broadband service can be accessed for as low as $9.95 per month and is one hundred times faster than the dial-up service. This is not too bad if you are a moderate Internet users or want to access an occasional movie.
The mobile braodband service provided by NetZero allows you to access broadband at home or on the go without any contracts, commitments, or overage fees. If you are interested in free Internet access, you may or may not be interested in the mobile broadband service since it offers 200MB of 4G connectivity for free and then starts at $19.95 for 1GB 4G connectivity. This of course, is not as low as $9.95 for DSL broadband, but it is still not as high as a conventional mobile braodband service with contracts and commitments. If you think this is something you may want to consider, here is more information on how it works:
Juno is a similar service to NetZero and they offer you 10 hours per month of free Internet access with access to multiple email addresses. Like other free Internet services Juno survives on advertising so you must be ready to receive advertisements as you surf the Internet. Some of the newer services include access to email with mobile and web access in addition to video mail and video chat services.
Juno offers dial-up access with a variety of numbers nationwide. Although Internet access is free, be aware that when you choose a number, you may incur additional long distance costs on your telephone bill. To find out whether or not you will incur any charges and the amount of the charges, you can contact your telephone company with the phone number you must use to access Juno.
If you are open to a low cost paid service, Juno also offers DSL and accelerated dial-up Internet access services that start as low as $10.95 per month. The first month is free with no credit card required.
FreeSpot Directory is a handy directory that provides an entire listing of locations that offer free wireless Internet. At the top of the page are links to listing in various states throughout the US along with retailers, restaturants, coffee shops, airport hubs, parks and campgrounds, and vacation rentals that offer free wireless Internet.
Farther down the page you will find links to listings for free wireless Internet in other aras of the world. These areas include Europe, Canada, Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America, The Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and The South Pacific. The locations that offer free wireless Internet include hotel accommodations, restaurants, transportation hubs, coffee shops, bars and clubs, and much more.
The FreeSpot Directory is frequently updated with new locations that offer free Wi-Fi. They also recommend contacting a location prior to your travel plans or a visit to the location offering free Internet access.
Freedomlist is an impartial listing of Internet Service Providers in more than 50 different countries. Although some of the services require a subscription, you will also find a comprehensive list of free Internet Service Providers in the country where you are located.
Freedomlist is not overly extensive, but you can find a decent number of dialup services that are available at cheap prices or completely free of cost. Some of the cheap dialup Internet access services are as low as $3.99 with braodband access starting as low as $9.95.
What’s New? FreedomPop
FreedomPop is a fairly new service that offers free Internet access by offering wireless hotspot devices with free mobile data. They are currently working on offering a cell phone service with free calling and texting. According to an article in Time Magazine, the service has stirred some controversy as the result of claims over hidden costs. However, if you are aware of some of the hidden costs, it is possible to get completely free Internet access using this service.
FreedomPop was first introduced at the Consumer Eletronics Show (CES) last year.
We also recommend you read the article in Time Magazine by clicking the link provided above to help you make an informed decision about this service. To say the least, it is an interesting concept and one that may be worth following to see where it goes in the near future.
Other Ways to Access Free Internet
There are many unethical ways to access free Internet however, we do not plan to discuss these here. However, other above board ways you can get free Internet include the some of the following options:
Use Public Wi-Fi Access
Free public WiFi access is very common with many malls, coffee shops, libraries, hotels, parks and other public venues offering a WiFi access point. Many transportation hubs also provide public access to free WiFi.
It is important to point out that many of the free public Wi-Fi access points are open wireless connections. This means that there are no encryption technologies being used that help to keep out unwanted intruders on the network. Many of the locations omit security technologies to keep the cost of maintaining a wireless network at a minimum. This means you must take the necessary precautions to protect yourself when access free public Wi-Fi.
As a general rule , you should avoid accessing your bank account or any other locations where you are required to use a password when using free public wireless Internet. If you want to access and work on files and documents that do not pose a threat to your security, you can set up a free Web-based email account such as Hotmail or Gmail and then use an online backup service or Google Docs to store your files and data.
Many of the online backup services such as Mozy, Carbonite, and others offer a specified amount of storage space for free with no credit card information required and provide syncing capabilities for your mobile devices. With this type of setup, you can access your email and your files from any public Internet access point without having to use your regular email account or any type of credit card information to access an online backup service.
Jailbreak your iPhone
If you own an iPhone and you are tech savvy, there is a process known as jailbreaking which allows you to free up your phone to allow for tethering and ultimately free Internet access. The process is considered to be legal through the DCMA and allows you to access free applications and the Internet.
There are a number of steps involved with jailbreaking your phone. If you would like to look into this possibility for free Internet, there is a wide variety of video tutorials on YouTube which you can access by searching with the words jailbreaking your iPhone. Once the jailbreaking process is complete, you do not have to pay an additional tethering fee on top of your regular cell phone bill.
One thing to keep in mind before you jailbreak your iPhone is Apple will not honor your warranty if your iPhone has been jailbroken. In this case, if you require any repairs to your phone, it will be necessary to pay for them out of your own pocket.
You should also backup your phone before proceeding with the jailbreaking process. However, if you run into any issues once the jailbreaking process is complete, there is a way to go back and restore your phone pre-jailbreak.
It is important to mention many of the wireless carrier services are no longer allowed to charge an additional fee for tethering your phone to provide Internet access for an additional device. However, this may not be the case in all areas of the world. If there isn’t an additional fee for tethering in the area where you live, you can get free Internet access simply by tethering your phone to your laptop or other device.
Here is an example of how tethering works:
Share an Internet Connection in Exchange for a Service
If your friends or neighbors are close by, you could ask to share their Internet connection in exchange for offering them one of your services such as mowing their lawn, shoveling the walkways and the driveway, etc. Depending upon the distance from the Internet connection, it may require you to add a long range WiFi adapter to enable you to receive the signal from your neighbor or friend’s router.
Obtain Free Cable Internet
Since cable Internet runs on the same line as your cable TV connection, before you subscribe to a cable TV service ask about their Internet plans. Some of the cable television services may offer you free high speed Internet with limited data capability. The connection is typically slower than most high speed connections and your data transfer is limited.
However, if you only engage in light computing tasks, this may be another option which will work for you. Plus, it is much faster than going through one of the free Internet Service Providers that are only capable of offering you dialup access.
Ask to Use Your Friends Mobile Hotspot
If you are enjoying a cup of coffee with friends or you are out and about together, perhaps you can ask one of your friends if you can connect to their mobile hotspot device. They may or may not allow you to do this but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
A mobile hotspot is established using a mobile hotspot device provided by a cellular wireless carrier such as AT&T or Verizon. The hotpsot uses the data included in your cellular plan. Additionally, in order to secure the connection, it is necessary to enable encryption and then protect the connection with a password. Anyone who wants to access the connection needs the password used to protect the mobile network. For this reason, your friend may or may not allow you to pursue this option to access free wireless Internet.
This information should provide you with a few options to explore if you are seeking a free Internet connection. Keep in mind that dial-up access is slower despite the fact that some of the services guarantee a 56K connection. If you need a faster connection, then you should consider some of the other options discussed in this article.