You are rapidly reaching your phone’s data limit and want to avoid paying extra charges. There is only one thing for it – find a free wifi network, and fast. But where do you look?
Not far it turns out, as more and more of the UAE is now covered.
“It started out mostly in coffee shops where you would have to consume something to get free wifi,” says Miguel Lopes, senior business development manager for Swiss Bureau Projects Supply, which owns EmiratesWifi.
“Then the government here started an initiative in which they wanted everyone to have access to the internet everywhere to promote the e-government services. It is expected that in the next two years you will be able to get free wifi in over 90 percent of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.”
In Dubai you can find free wifi in all of the big malls – including Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates – Downtown Dubai, many coffee shops, and the whole of Dubai Silicon Oasis.
Even taxis will offer free wifi by the end of the year as part of plans to make Dubai a “smart city”. Buses between Dubai and Abu Dhabi already offer the service.
And although free wifi in the capital is mainly limited to hotels and coffee shops for now, there are plans afoot to launch a gigantic network to cover the entire city, says Mr Lopes.
The other emirates are a bit behind by comparison, he adds.
Even if you find yourself elsewhere in the UAE and are in need of free wifi, coffee shop chains such as Costa and Starbucks and many hotels operate their own free networks throughout the country.
Suppose, however, you can’t find a free wifi network or the one you want to link to is down or not fast enough for your requirements? You can always pay to logon using wifi hotspots from Etisalat and Du. [How to use Etisalat wifi hotspots and Du wifi hotspots]
Wifi mobile security
Whether you are using wifi in the privacy of your hotel room or from the back of a taxi, you should be careful about what you look at when you link in to a free network.
“It’s radio. It’s not a cable, so whatever you’re doing someone can get in the middle and listen,” says Mr Lopes.
There are even free tools available on the internet that teach people how to hack into laptops. Phones are harder, he adds, but people should still be careful about what they are using the free wifi for.
“Don’t use financial websites like bank websites. Don’t do any type of operation that involves any type of access to personal data. Keep the important bits for when you are indoors, in your own house.”
Aside from that, make sure that your anti-virus is up to date with a firewall on and do not accept any strange files from unknown sources and so as long you follow those steps, free wifi could be a smart way to save money.