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iPhone Free WiFi Is Back

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the everyone-loves-free-stuff dept.

Wireless (Apple) 77

scorp1us writes "iPhone users used to be able to get free Wifi from AT&T hot spots, including Starbucks locations. The service was pulled because of the browser-agent hack. Now the service is being re-launched, this time with a link sent via SMS to the iPhone for the hotspot, valid for 24 hours."

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77 comments

And... (3, Insightful)

mewshi_nya (1394329) | more than 5 years ago | (#25563039)

Who the hell cares? Free wifi. I can get that pretty much anywhere.

What, is this like "Oh, it has the word "iPhone" in it, so we HAVE to put it up front!" ?

Re:And... (4, Informative)

c_forq (924234) | more than 5 years ago | (#25563139)

I used to think this too. Than I got a job that required me to travel a lot, and discovered you can't count on getting free WiFi all of the time. If you are in a college town you are usually set, but I've even been burned there before.

Re:And... (5, Interesting)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 5 years ago | (#25563429)

Indeed. We took my iPod Touch (and my wife's iPhone) with us to Austria and Germany for a vacation earlier this month, and were quite dismayed to find very few hotspots at all, and none free anywhere we went, from little town to major city like Vienna or Munich. Only the last three of our hotels (of seven) offered wifi for guests - and that was all we had.

(Perhaps there were hotspots in other places in the towns, away from the city centers and other public places that we visited. But without reliable web access we couldn't find them.)

Re:And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25563531)

Me too. I traveled through Europe (Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands, France, Switzerland) and there was very little free and open WiFi. I think that the secure defaults are closing up this resource.

Re:And... (2, Informative)

lastchance_000 (847415) | more than 5 years ago | (#25563573)

JiWire [jiwire.com] provides a list of (international) wifi hotspots, and the site detects iPhones and presents an optimized search interface.

Re:And... (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 5 years ago | (#25567071)

Adn how are we supposed to get to that site when we don't have an internet connection in the first place!!! :P

Re:And... (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#25565311)

In Italy I understand its legally frowned upon to have free wifi (i was there for a month). At net-cafes they are required to ID you in case of 'terrorists'. The first time I laughed because I thought he was joking (I'm a italian university student from canada so it wasn't racism). But across the country in numerous towns they were dead serious about it. I found maybe a few dozen free wifi spots after a month traveling the country.

Re:And... (1)

am 2k (217885) | more than 5 years ago | (#25566225)

Freewave [freewave.at] is a WLAN hotspot provider here in Austria, where you can get totally free Internet in many restaurants without having to freeride on some private Internet user's account.

Re:And... (1)

JonDorian88 (1341359) | more than 5 years ago | (#25566939)

And it sure beats paying 20 bucks for 7 hours of access in the airport when your flight leaves in 2.

Re:And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25565281)

Who the hell cares? Free wifi. I can get that pretty much anywhere.

What, is this like "Oh, it has the word "iPhone" in it, so we HAVE to put it up front!" ?

Yes, this is vitally important because wifi is the only way that the iphone can get on the internet. You see all these hapless iphone users only able to make phone calls without being able to surf the web.

If only iphones came with some sort of internet access technology that worked without wifi, and that you had unlimited usage.

Re:And... (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 5 years ago | (#25567431)

The days of ubiquitous free open WiFi are long gone. Newer WiFi routers usually enable WPA or at least WEP encryption by default now. AT&T has been rolling out their 2Wire WiFi routers with at least WEP enabled for at least 2 or 3 years now. When I moved into my neighborhood I counted 8 or 9 open access points and today there are zero that are not protected by some form of encryption.

I don't remember the last time I stayed in a hotel that offered free WiFi that didn't require you to access it through some kind of portal verifying your stay there or providing credit card details to bill you per night for the service. Still, I find myself needing WiFi less and less now that my iPhone supports high-speed 3G data. For the sites I browse it is more than fast enough for my needs to just use 3G all the time while I'm away from home.

Re:And... (1)

CreepingEye (657269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25582623)

Agreed, and since when did ATT partner with Startbucks? I have been to countless ones "looking" for free wifi and only found T-mobile hot spots. Am i missing something?

Re:And... (1)

all5n (1239664) | more than 5 years ago | (#25671127)

AT&T has been transitioning all the Starbucks from T-Mobile to their network. The T-Mobile/Starbucks contract ends on January 4, 2009. Up until that point, AT&T must broadcast the tmobile SSID at Starbucks locations.

Because they rolled out the "free access with a cup of coffee" at locations where T-Mobile was still the provider (without asking T-Mobile first or compensating them in any way), T-Mobile sued the pants off of them and forced them to allow roaming and UMA access at Starbucks for another few years for T-Mobile customers. AT&T customers get access to T-Mobile sites as well, except T-Mobile gets some undisclosed sum of roaming fees waived.

Don't worry about north dakota (2, Funny)

longhairedgnome (610579) | more than 5 years ago | (#25563049)

no one else does

News Flash (3, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25563115)

Starbucks is still trying to charge for WiFi.
I will meet you all at the Atlanta Bread Company, Panera Bread, or any of a number of other places that offer over priced coffee and Free WiFi.

Re:News Flash (1)

Tyketto (97265) | more than 5 years ago | (#25563609)

Starbucks is still trying to charge for WiFi. I will meet you all at the Atlanta Bread Company, Panera Bread, or any of a number of other places that offer over priced coffee and Free WiFi.

It is probably because the Starbucks you went to is still a T-Mobile Hotspot [starbucks.com] . The one near my office is offers both T-Mobile and ATT WiFi. Also, from TFA, the store has to be US Company operated. YMMV if it is independently operated.

Re:News Flash (1)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 5 years ago | (#25577215)

YMMV if it is independently operated.

There are no independently operated Starbucks stores.

Re:News Flash (1)

flink (18449) | more than 5 years ago | (#25584123)

There are no independently operated Starbucks stores.

There is one right next to me in the Marriot Hotel in Boston. It's run by the hotel, not Starbucks corporate. It's a pain too, because they don't participate in a lot of the promotions, so you always get people in front of you in line arguing about some buy X get 1 free that the hotel franchise isn't honoring.

Re:News Flash (1)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 5 years ago | (#25617213)

I stand corrected. I've only seen the kiosks or mini-bars that are affiliated with another business (Albertson's, Safeway, etc), not a full stand alone store that is independent. I didn't think they were allowing that.

Re:News Flash (1)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 5 years ago | (#25617253)

FYI, from Starbucks site:

Does Starbucks franchise?
Starbucks does not franchise operations and has no plans to franchise in the foreseeable future.

In North America, the majority of our stores are Company-operated. As an exception, Starbucks may enter into licensing arrangements with companies who provide access to real estate which would otherwise be unavailable such as airport locations, national grocery chains, major food services corporations, college and university campuses and hospitals.

Re:News Flash (2, Informative)

WillyDavidK (977353) | more than 5 years ago | (#25563663)

Actually all you have to do to get free Wi-Fi at starbucks is use gift card the next time you buy something. You can register the card online and they give you a free wi-fi account. The account expires if you don't use the gift card for over a month.

Re:News Flash (2, Insightful)

NateTech (50881) | more than 5 years ago | (#25565091)

Not to mention the food is a hell of a lot better at both, and so is the amount of space, the furniture, hell... everything.

The only thing Starbucks has going for it now is that it overbuilt stores, and is bloody everywhere. The coffee and "ambiance" aren't going to hold up in this market... and many will close.

Hell, if they're in your area, most Caribou Coffee shops are way nicer to hang out in than Starbucks.

They were the trendsetter, the also-rans now have studied them and are coming to kick their ass.

Really? Where? (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#25566691)

Because I walked into the Smyrna location just the other day and my iPod Touch connected instantly without any issue.

I haven't been in a local Atlanta area Starbucks that required me to do anymore than turn the device on.

Re:News Flash (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#25570267)

Starbucks is still trying to charge for WiFi.

Give me a WLAN card with a programmable MAC and at least one paying customer to piggyback, and they can try all they want.

Re:News Flash (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 5 years ago | (#25579191)

Give me a WLAN card with a programmable MAC and at least one paying customer to piggyback, and they can try all they want.

What happens to all the unrequested return packets, do most OS's have little trouble discarding them?

Re:News Flash (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#25579411)

They're just dropped as they're not part of the connection table.

how to get it iphone free? (-1, Flamebait)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#25563193)

So what's the hack this time chaps? How do we get free wifi without an iphone?

Re:how to get it iphone free? (5, Informative)

Graff (532189) | more than 5 years ago | (#25563333)

So what's the hack this time chaps? How do we get free wifi without an iphone

Well, simple browser-agent swapping didn't work for me. I tried it on Safari switched to identify as Safari on the iPhone and I didn't get the same login screen as my iPhone did. They might be using the MAC address of the iPhone to determine if it is an iPhone in the first place. I'll try setting my laptop MAC address to be the same as my iPhone and give that a chance the next time I'm at a Starbucks.

Of course this still means you need to know the phone number of an AT&T account and have access to the phone so you get the SMS with the validation link so no free wifi for all, just AT&T customers.

Re:how to get it iphone free? (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25564303)

municipal WiFi/WiMax.

free open public WiFi access is a lot more useful & convenient than having a bunch of closed commercial WiFi hotspots. it would open the door to a whole new range of wireless applications that simply can't be achieved using closed WiFi--especially at extortionate hourly rates they charge at places like airports and hotels.

things like carrier-less VoIP mobile phones, portable internet radios, or even internet-enabled smart vehicles that transmit/receive real-time traffic reports to help drivers avoid congested routes, etc. would not be possible without open public WiFi access. even if you could blanket a city with commercial WiFi hotspots you'd still have to pay a different access provider every time you moved, or you'd need to maintain 20 different subscriptions, and you'd still have to sign on again at each new hotspot, making applications that require ubiquitous WiFi access completely impractical.

Re:how to get it iphone free? (4, Funny)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#25564307)

So what's the hack this time chaps? How do we get free wifi without an iphone?

Ok, this is a somewhat tricky hack so pay attention.

1. Buy a Starbucks Card [starbucks.com]

2. Register the Card [sbc.com]

3. Now here's the really tricky part. Go into your nearest Starbucks and attempt to access the Wifi. When you are prompted for user/pass, enter the username and password you registered the card with.

Voila! Free Wifi! Make sure you charge or refill the card at least once a month or this hack will stop working.

You're welcome.

Re:how to get it iphone free? (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#25564395)

1. Buy a Starbucks Card [starbucks.com]

That wouldn't be free if I had to buy it now, would it?

Re:how to get it iphone free? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#25564407)

You asked without an iPhone. And you're not paying for the Wifi. Ergo, you are getting free Wifi without an iPhone.

Re:how to get it iphone free? (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#25564617)

You keep using that word free, I don't think it means, what you think it means.

Re:how to get it iphone free? (3, Insightful)

jrockway (229604) | more than 5 years ago | (#25564725)

You are going to Starbucks to drink coffee, right? If you pay for the coffee with a gift card, you get the Wifi for free. Since you were there to buy coffee, and you didn't pay any additional money to get the Wifi, that sounds like it's free to me.

Re:how to get it iphone free? (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#25565643)

You are going to Starbucks to drink coffee, right?

I wouldn't. If I want decent coffee, I'll stay at home and make it myself.

Re:how to get it iphone free? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#25565721)

In which case you can mooch off your own damn WiFi. ;-)

Re:how to get it iphone free? (1)

inerlogic (695302) | more than 5 years ago | (#25617841)

no, if it were free, i could sit in the parkinglot, with my dunkin' donuts, or honeydew coffee and use the free wifi at SBUX... free with conditions is not free.... you have freedom of speech, but you can't criticize the government, is that free speech? you have freedom of religion, but if you're a catholic, we'll shoot you, is that free? i'll give you my car for free if you give me $35,000...

Re:how to get it iphone free? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#25564783)

I don't think it means, what you think it means.

Au contraire. I think the word you're looking for is "steal".

Re:how to get it iphone free? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#25566015)

Not free, you get it "for no extra cost" when you use a gift card to buy coffee from starbucks...
And you'd be buying some coffee anyway, since they wont just let you sit there using the wifi without buying a drink.

Re:how to get it iphone free? (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 5 years ago | (#25571331)

So you have to buy the gift card? I've never heard of this gift card. Can't you just do the same with cash?

Hack?! Ha. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25563213)

Hack? I hardly call changing your User Agent a hack.

This should read:

"The service was pulled because of poorly implemented security."

Re:Hack?! Ha. (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 5 years ago | (#25570229)

Hack? I hardly call changing your User Agent a hack.

This should read:

"The service was pulled because of poorly implemented security."

What security?

No Fair (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25563273)

What about iPod touch?

Re:No Fair (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25564069)

What about it? The iPhone gets free wifi because they're paying through the nose to AT&T for cellular service. Why would the iPod Touch get something from AT&T? Because Apple's 'cool'?

Australia Rocks (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25563281)

In Australia iPhone users are able to get free Wifi from Telstra hot spots, including all McDonalds, All Airports locations. A 6 digit key sent via SMS to the iPhone for the hotspot, what is better, you can put the key into your computer at the same hotspot and have free internet!

!Australia Rocks (1)

russlar (1122455) | more than 5 years ago | (#25563847)

In Australia iPhone users are able to get free Wifi from Telstra hot spots, including all McDonalds, All Airports locations. A 6 digit key sent via SMS to the iPhone for the hotspot, what is better, you can put the key into your computer at the same hotspot and have free internet!

Never mind that national firewall [slashdot.org] we just read about.

Re:!Australia Rocks (3, Informative)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 5 years ago | (#25565801)

Yes, because appaearing an a Slashdot story means it has been implemented.

It's on the government's drawing board, and they're rightly copping a lot of flak for the plan. Business will soon weigh in with the "crippled Internet equals crippled business" line, and the plan will never see the light of day.

The system works, and Australia does, in fact, rock.

Yeah... (3, Interesting)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25563521)

I found out because AT&T texted me to let me know that my iphone could now get free WiFi... But they aren't supposed to know i even have one... i don't have an iPhone plan, i bought my original iPhone from apple, then took it home and unlocked/activated it without ever agreeing to a new contract. Looks like they're recognizing my IMEI... I really wish i could change that, but none of the programs seem to work with the new firmwares! :-/
The worst part is, since they know i have an iPhone, they block MMS even with a hacked phone running an MMS program, but even though they know i have an iPhone, i don't get visual voicemail!
-Taylor

Re:Yeah... (1)

Kagura (843695) | more than 5 years ago | (#25563943)

Visual voicemail is an AT&T service, so why would you expect get it with a different provider?

I'm mortified about the cake incident. Simply mortified!

Re:Yeah... (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25564055)

Visual voicemail is an AT&T service, so why would you expect get it with a different provider?

I'm mortified about the cake incident. Simply mortified!

No, i have AT&T, just not an iPhone plan. I already had a contract with a data package and i didn't feel like agreeing to a new contract.
-Taylor

Re:Yeah... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25564323)

and you decided to pay more as a result?

slashdot is filled with idiots these days I tell ya. this place used to be where all the smart kids hang out...

Re:Yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25564453)

fyi at&t know you're using an iphone for much more simple reasons: mobile phones communicate their specs with the network. They aren't cross referencing imei numbers against phone models.(This is why the provider knows whether or not to send you MMS.)

You might also notice that your phone sends off a few text messages to the network when you put the sim card into a new phone model.

Re:Yeah... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25564517)

You can't buy an iPhone without a contract. And non-iPhone SIM cards don't work in the locked iPhone. This means that Apple most likely signed you up for a new contract in the store with your existing number - without you realizing it.

Check your AT&T account online and see if there are any clues.

Also: do you realize the silliness of hacking the phone and then complaining that it doesn't work properly?

Re:Yeah... (1)

NeoSkandranon (515696) | more than 5 years ago | (#25568425)

You can't buy an iPhone without a contract.

This was not always the case; prior to (i think) the 3G release it was possible to buy an iPhone directly from apple without agreeing to anything provider related.

Re:Yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25597957)

It's no conspiracy...

Visual voicemail is an option on your account, not your phone.

I upgraded to the iPhone from another AT&T phone and plan. And because I was just adding the iPhone data plan to an existing non-iPhone voice plan, I had to call in seperately and have them add visual voice mail as a seperate option.

Look at your bill closely some time. Your non-visual voicemail is a seperate line item, not bundled with your data. It's the same with iPhone plans.

Re:Yeah... (3, Informative)

geemon (513231) | more than 5 years ago | (#25570931)

AT&T needs to specifically provision the visual voicemail on your plan. I don't know, but I don't think it is tied specifically to the iPhone data plan.

When I switched to the iPhone, the initial rep failed to provision the visual voicemail service to my plan. It took a separate call for them to provision it properly.

Re:Yeah... (1)

JohnnyComeLately (725958) | more than 5 years ago | (#25586135)

My apologies for being too lazy to check with AT&T, but what's visual voicemail? I have a 3G iPhone and I have no info about this.

Iphone Free Wifi? (2, Insightful)

Zibri (1063838) | more than 5 years ago | (#25563723)

One could easily read that as "wifi free from iphone". A part of me died when i read the summary.

what about the regular data plan users who pay $60 (3, Insightful)

gr8gatzby (624204) | more than 5 years ago | (#25564149)

I pay $60/mo for unlimited data via my USB card, which is 300% more per month than the iPhone user who pays $20/mo. Is it unfair to expect the same(if not 300% better) treatment from AT&T? Where's my free wifi? Is it really too much to ask?

Re:what about the regular data plan users who pay (1)

Macman408 (1308925) | more than 5 years ago | (#25564753)

I think the basic idea is that the iPhone user will be using less bandwidth than someone with an unlimited data plan on their laptop (or, for that matter, a cell phone + tethering). Most people don't want to do all their internet on their cell phone.

Also of note, the iPhone 3G plan is $30/month, so you're only paying double. ;-)

So your options are to 1. get an iPhone, 2. get AT&T DSL (which offers a similar benefit), or 3. pay per-use or per-month.

Of course, you'd think they'd want you to use wifi rather than the cell network for your data, since it probably costs them less for the WiFi.

No kidding? (1)

Dripdry (1062282) | more than 5 years ago | (#25564205)

I sure thought that said "IPhone Free Wife" at first and thought,"Oh what a relief! Finally an Apple product for the 21st Century husband!"

Re:No kidding? (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 5 years ago | (#25568829)

Well if it were legal in my state, I'd marry my iPhone...

Tmobile and the G1 (3, Interesting)

gearloos (816828) | more than 5 years ago | (#25564523)

Noboy has equated this to the latest. Tmobile is now offering free wifi for G1 users (at least)nationwide. I know... here it comes.. all the trash about Tmobile has only 22 3G markets etc... Well, I have a G1, I live in 1 of those markets and here, it is awesome. Some kind of coincidence.

T-Mobile G1 with Google gets free hotspots too (2, Interesting)

maggard (5579) | more than 5 years ago | (#25564855)

Same for G1 users.

T-Mobile offers free unlimited access to all of their T-Mobile hotspots (which includes the new AT&T rebranded ones for another 5 years) to their G1 data plan subscribers. T-Mo even has a free GPS-enabled Hotspot Finder [t-mobile.com] for the G1 that handles the login details for you.

Do they charge for the SMS? (1)

NateTech (50881) | more than 5 years ago | (#25565105)

That'll be the first question I'll have... if I ever use it. I'd rather hang out at Panera Bread, Caribou Coffee, or a whole lot of other places than Starbucks.

Oh yeah, I have WiFi at home, and coffee too. Wow. What a place! I'll be here...

The only place it looks useful to me, if I were still traveling a lot, is at the airports.

Re:Do they charge for the SMS? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25569573)

Oh yeah, I have WiFi at home, and coffee too. Wow. What a place! I'll be here...

That does sound like a rockin' place. I'll be there too. Where do you live?

Re:Do they charge for the SMS? (2, Informative)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#25571221)

Do they charge for the SMS?

I've received promotional text messages from my phone company on my cell phone for which I have not been charged, so it is within the realm of possibility that standard text messaging rates will not apply to these messages.

nearly useless (-1)

jkerman (74317) | more than 5 years ago | (#25565159)

a link you cant click on from the sms page, because iphones are a pain in the ass that way. "thanks"

I hope they leave little pads of paper and pencils around so you can actually /use/ it

Re:nearly useless (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25580705)

bs. you can.

iphone (-1, Offtopic)

vecteevs (1319857) | more than 5 years ago | (#25566855)

My friend yesterday crashed with his bike, and smashed his iphone. pictures: http://hop.02.lv/Hg [02.lv]

SMS Charges? (2, Interesting)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 5 years ago | (#25569091)

a link sent via SMS to the iPhone

Anyone know if AT&T will charge you to receive that message?

Re:SMS Charges? (1)

raam4122 (452987) | more than 5 years ago | (#25679037)

No, they don't charge you for the SMS.

What would be cool is... (1)

Orig_Club_Soda (983823) | more than 5 years ago | (#25574313)

If my iPhones received an SMS everytime it entered one of these free zones. War driving/walking is a pain in the butt.

Not available at all Starbucks unfortunately (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25576425)

This news in mind, I checked out two locations I passed by this morning.

Both offer WiFi through T-Mobile.

The SMS to get WiFi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25584745)

Hey tis is iphone 2 hotspot c8n u get me a connection? =)
Steve Jobs told mi 2 send u a sms to connect =P

iPhone free Wi-Fi (1)

kid krisis (1396693) | more than 5 years ago | (#25585237)

Free public Wi-Fi connections are a security risk to a user. If the At&T connection is secured, and to be used only by AT&T customers, it could have some positive potential. My question is, if you are going to offer free Wi-Fi, why are you making me pay for internet over the 3G network on my phone. Might as well be free all accross the board.

Re:iPhone free Wi-Fi (1)

JohnnyComeLately (725958) | more than 5 years ago | (#25586225)

You might be looking at this backwards. Your wifi is free because you're already paying for data from AT&T, so they're doing this as goodwill (to not charge you twice for the same basic service).
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