Data Doctor: For Wi-Fi on road, you may need specific provider

Q. I’m on the road a lot and am constantly in search of a wireless Internet connection that I can use. Some of them say “Free Wi-Fi,” but I can’t seem to get connected. I am fairly new to wireless on the road, so what am I doing wrong? — Patricia

A. Users of wireless networking technologies can often get confused about how and when this technology is supposed to work.

At home, it works because it is specifically set up to connect to a “preferred” network, but when you are on the road, you are essentially “knocking on doors” electronically to see who will let you in.

Airports, hotels, coffee shops and restaurants are common gathering points for “road warriors” to get online wirelessly, but there are a number of reasons why you might not be able to connect.

The most common is that you may need an account with a specific provider. The best example is the relationship Starbucks has with TMobile, where only T-Mobile customers can connect to the wireless network.
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