Because Wi-Fi is such a new field, networks of Wi-Fi hotspots are still relatively small. One implication is that incumbent telecommunication providers such as AT&T Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon have a head start.
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.
But I've also included "Mom and Pop" networks. After all, the sheer number of hotspots may not be what counts for you: You may 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 network because no one network is likely to provide all the hotspots you want to use. See Chapter 12 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 may 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.
Table B.1. Wi-Fi Networks
Number of hotspots
Privately held operator based in Toledo, Ohio, that has hotspots in a wide variety of places.
AT&T's Wi-Fi service is called "goport" and can be hard to find without the Web address shown in this table.
Australian Wi-Fi hotspot operator.
A pioneer Wi-Fi network, and still considered one of the best.
Primarily provides hot-spots in the Western US.
Austrian Wi-Fi network.
Wi-Fi network operator based in Holland with hotspots in South Africa and elsewhere.
Rolling out quickly based on existing nfrastructure.
Surf and Sip
Based in San Francisco, this Wi-Fi network operator specializes in Setting up hotspots for businesses that want to give access away to draw traffic.
Affiliated with Toshiba, SurfHere provides access in stores including McDonald's and The UPS Store.
Serves Scandinavian countries.
The leading Wi-Fi provider, building infrastructure in Starbucks stores and elsewhere. T-Mobile is the one everyone else wants to beat.
Currently provides hotspots mainly in the metropolitan NY area; most are free to Verizon DSL customers.
An early pioneer in providing Wi-Fi hotspots, now providing infrastructure in hotels and elsewhere.
German Wi-Fi network provider.