Travel Hack: One way to get free wifi

Recently I was in London for Seedcamp and ad-tech on behalf of Lookery.  One of the challenges of traveling to Europe in this Crackberry/iPhone day and age are the INSANE data roaming charges that mobile co’s like ATT Wireless like to charge.  The standard rate is 2c per KB or $20/MB.  Egads!  For perspective, my mobile twitter home page ( is 7k so 14 cents everytime I wanted to check. Mobile Wall St. Journal home page – 10k or 20c.  Definitely cheaper to buy the dead tree version at those rates.  300 emails a day (Lookery’s a virtual company and I’m in marketing and biz dev) @ 1kb each = $6/ day.   The moral of the story is it adds up quickly.  Now ATT Wireless offers a bulk purchase plan – great $25 for 20 MB’s (a 60% discount off of rate but still not a lot of data if you’re a mobile data power user).  Great except it requires a 12 month contract (seriously in this day and age I can’t believe we as consumers put up with that customer service B.S.).

So as a frugal, penny-pinching startup guy, I decided that I was going to rely on free wifi as my only means of accessing my email and mobile web needs.  I’m not sure whether or not iPhone’s automagically connect to open WAP’s, but Blackberries don’t.  They require you to manually search available WAP’s and then select the one you want to connect to.  So my first night in London, I arrive at my friends house (another frugal startup tip – don’t stay in hotels in NY and London – stay with friends) and connect to his open WAP still using the default SSID.  So the next day, I’m wondering around London and I notice my phone buzzing.  It’s connected to an open WAP and then it happened again later that day in a different part of the city.  That got me thinking – I should enter all the most popular default SSID’s for WAPs which all just happen to typically be the name of the WAP manufacturer.  And so I did.  Let me tell you, I was astounded at all the free wifi I was able to grab having pre-registered those WAPs on my wifi-enabled Blackberry Curve.  And even back at home in Seattle, I am still finding lots of free wifi as a result.  So I figured I should share the tip.

Here are the SSID’s I’ve entered so far: Netgear, dlink, Linksys, Belkin54g, Buffalo.  And if you wanted to enter more a quick web search would find many more default SSIDs.

Happy Travels.

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One Response to Travel Hack: One way to get free wifi

  1. lukas says:

    hey todd,

    you were mentoring us at seedcamp. well, funny I read that post and you are absolutely right. you can join our competition and win a FON router.

    trilatertal win-win-win situation:

    martin varsavsky – todd sawicki – tripwolf :)

    regards from vienna

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