Philadelphia Does It Right!

Philadelphia is pleased to announce the expansion of Wireless Philadelphia , free high-speed public Internet access for the residents, visitors and businesses of Philadelphia. With Wireless Philadelphia’s broadband connection, you can do anything you would ordinarily do from your home or office computer- anywhere on Benjamin Franklin Parkway (Parkway). And, you can still do it all for free.

To enjoy Wireless Philadelphia”Web on the Go” access, all you need to do is take your wireless/Wi-Fi enabled laptop or PDA to the Parkway. Follow the instructions in the “How to Use” section to connect to our network. And then, check your email, surf the web, log on to your corporate network using a VPN connection, instant message your friends and colleagues, play online games, or make a free Voice-over IP phone call. It’s just that easy.

What do I need to use the free Wireless Internet Access connection at a Wireless Philadelphia hotspot?

All you need is a wireless/Wi-Fi (802.11b) enabled laptop or other device like the Palm Tungsten C handheld.(“Wi-Fi” is a registered certification mark of the Wi-Fi Alliance.) Today most products such as laptops and PDA’s are designed for wireless connectivity and some may come equipped with a wireless adapter card. Otherwise, you’ll need to purchase an adapter card at a local retail electronics outlet. When purchasing an adapter card for your laptop or device be sure to read the manufacturers specs for compatibility and interoperability information. If you’re using Windows XP it should automatically “sniff” out and identify the network. If you are not using Windows XP, you may consider downloading the Boingo software. You will not be charged to use the software to sniff out any nearby networks.

What if I need Help connecting?

We want to make the connection process as easy as possible. The goal is to automatically configure your laptop or device for connection. But, as you can imagine, with lots of different vendors selling devices and cards there could be specific configuration instructions you’ll need to follow. Please refer to the Configuration and Support pages on the Wireless Philadelphia website.

What can I do at a Wireless Philadelphia hotspot?

The free Wi-Fi wireless broadband connection allows you to do anything you’d do from home or the office. You can surf the Web, check your e-mail, connect to your corporate network – using a secure VPN connection, make free Voice over IP phone calls, play online games, update your blog, and IM with your friends.

Is my data and e-mail secure at a Wireless Philadelphia hotspot?

Wireless transmissions, by their nature, can be intercepted very easily. The Wireless Philadelphia Network is designed for ease of use, and is not encrypted or password protected. You have the responsibility to make sure that your data is kept secure and that you use secure protocols for any sensitive material. Wireless Philadelphia is not responsible for any information that is compromised by the use of the Wireless Philadelphia Network. Also, make sure that your computer does not have file sharing active (for Windows – click on network settings in the Control Panel, then find and uncheck file and print sharing). Other users on the network may be able to access your files if you do. In addition, it would be wise to use some kind of personal firewall to further protect against someone at the next table from accessing your files. Windows XP has limited firewall ability built-in.

Here’s what the Wi-Fi Alliance says:

Wireless networks in public areas and “HotSpots” like Internet cafes may not provide any security. Although some service providers do provide this with their custom software, many HotSpots leave all security turned off to make it easier to access and get on the network in the first place. If security is important to you the best way to achieve this when you are connecting back to your office is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). If you do not have access to a VPN and security is important, you may want to limit your wireless network use in these areas to non-critical e-mail and basic Internet surfing.

Most corporate IT departments are already skilled with VPN and can modify existing systems to support Wi-Fi networks. A VPN works through the VPN server at the company headquarters, creating an encryption scheme for data transferred to computers outside the corporate offices. The special VPN software on the remote computer or laptop uses the same encryption scheme, enabling the data to be safely transferred back and forth with no chance of interception. HotSpotVPN has a consumer product for public hotspot use.

Do I need to purchase goods or services before I can get free access in a Wireless Philadelphia Location?

No, the Wireless Philadelphia locations are provided free of charge.

So when will the rest of the country do this so we can say “Wireless USA”?

Read about Wireless Philadelphia here.