The hotspot counts in this section are based on the actual number of hotspots that I could locate using the directories listed earlier in this appendix.
The number of hotspots that I've noted are probably low now, and there will certainly be more by the time you read this book, but they do give an idea of the relative size of these networks.
You should know that most of the Wi-Fi networks claim a greater number of hotspots than I've shown in this section, but I'm sticking to the number that I can actually verify.
Because Wi-Fi is such a new field, networks of Wi-Fi hotspots are still relatively small. One implication is that incumbent telecommunication providerssuch as Cingular, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizonhave a head start.
But I've also included "mom-and-pop" networks. After all, the sheer number of hotspots might not be what counts for you: You might be most concerned with particular locations. I've tried to include every commercial Wi-Fi network that currently operates 50 or more hotspots.
From a user's point of view, you should check the availability and cost of roaming features before you sign up with a Wi-Fi networkbecause no one network is likely to provide all the hotspots you want to use. See Chapter 10, "Working with National Wi-Fi Networks," for more tips and techniques related to working with Wi-Fi networks.
Table B.1 shows the biggest networks as of the date of this writing, their Web address and telephone contacts, and current number of hotspots.
The contact information in this table might be useful when you decide which network to sign up with. It could also help if you are traveling to an area that is particularly well served by a specific provider.