Wi-Fi Available for Travelers

The Computer Corner

All you want to know about computers by Charles Miller

Look around the waiting lounge in any airport and you are sure to see a lot of travelers consulting their smartphones. You may also be sure that some of them have cell phone data plans from their home country that do not work in the country where they are at present, meaning they cannot get on the Internet. This is a case when they need to fall back on Wi-Fi in order to connect to the Web. Every airport lounge I have visited recently has had Wi-Fi available for travelers to use, provided the flyer can figure out how to use it, and so that is the subject for this week’s column.

When you seek a publicly available Wi-Fi in many locations, the first step is to look for a wireless SSID (Service Set Identifier) with a self-evident name such as “Free Airport WIFI” or “WIFI_BEN_GURION_AIRPORT.” This Wi-Fi will be “open,” meaning it does not require a password, but do not get excited just yet. The wireless signal does not require a password to log on but there is almost sure to be a captive portal (also known as an intercept page or landing page). This will take the form of a Web page that says “Welcome to Kamal Ataturk International Airport,” if it detects your phone’s or laptop’s default language, or it might say “Your language cannot be found” if it does not identify your language. This page is what you will probably see when you try to check your email or visit any website.

Even if the language of the page is unknown to you, there is probably going to be a button on the page that you need to click to agree to the terms and conditions before you are permitted to go online. Just look for a button “I agree” and even if it says “Ik ben het eens” or “Jag håller med,” just click on it. That might be all you need to do in order to connect.

Sometimes rather than connecting to the Internet you may next see a page prompting you to fill in several blanks. On the high-speed bullet train, I was prompted for my ticket and seat number. If you cannot read the language, and if the blanks look like places for a name, credit card number, and expiration date, that means you are required to pay for connectivity.

It sometimes happens that you are connected to the Internet, your home page is displayed, but there it stops. This is because your browser has displayed a “cached” Web page from your browsing history rather than from the Internet. The usual fix for this is to manually enter the addresses for some other websites, because this often prompts the captive portal to intercept that navigation and take you to the airport’s login page described previously. This is what happened to a fellow flyer who told me in frustration that her Yahoo.com email page came up but would not respond when she tried to read email. I explained that the Yahoo.com email page she was seeing was from history, and after she tried reaching another page, she received the airport’s login page where she clicked on “I agree.” Then her email worked.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981 and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044 415 101 8528 or email FAQ8 (at) SMAguru.com.

 

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