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gard Apr 6th, 2006 05:59 AM

Wi-fi hotspots in Paris

I'll be staying at Timhotel Tour Eiffel on Rue Juge (75015) this Easter. I'm wondering if I should bring my laptop (I nicknamed it is a long story) along to Paris. Are there many wi-fi hotspots in the area? Are there free hotspots? How do you go about to get on wi-fi that you have to pay for?

Gard - trip reports and pictures

shellio Apr 6th, 2006 07:33 AM

Here's a site that should help:

Mary_Fran Apr 6th, 2006 07:56 AM

Hi Gard, I always enjoy seeing your trip reports and pictures. Happy news that you'll be in Paris for Easter.

Regarding WI-FI access in Paris, I saw a great thread on this forum yesterday that may answer some of your questions:

It refers you to a site that lets you search for free and paid Wi-Fi access points throughout the world:

Looks super.

PalQ Apr 6th, 2006 07:58 AM lists dozens of Starbucks in Paris - i believe they are Wi-Fi hotspots.

Neopolitan Apr 6th, 2006 08:04 AM

So can anyone tell us real "wireless dummies" how this all works? The only time I've done wireless was at a hotel where they lent me a card to put in my laptop and it all worked fine. I'm willing to buy a card, enable my laptop's wireless capabilities, and use my laptop in Europe, but what do I buy? And does that mean it's going to work with various systems or will I still have to get a new special card everywhere I go that has a different system?

Where does one go to learn this stuff without being laughed at for being computer illiterate?

ahotpoet Apr 6th, 2006 08:17 AM

When you buy a wireless card, it comes with software you load. You can find them at Office Depot, Staples. CompUSA, Best Buy, etc. Maybe Target.
I like the wireless adapters that plug into a USB port.

Mary_Fran Apr 6th, 2006 08:20 AM

Neopolitan, Robespierre always inspires me with his generous sharing of his kinowledge of all things techie, and I see he has posted on another thread this morning, so hopefully he'll wander over this way and share his expertise with us once again.

I paid a local company a modest sum to have a wireless network set up in my home, so I can use my laptop in the livingroom, as I am as I write this; and I also use a WI-FI connection my son has set up for me when I stay at his flat in San Francisco. However, I can't help with explaining how it all works and what one needs to be set up to use it in Europe. I'm going to try it on our May trip, so after that, I'll know, for better or for worse.

Oh, Robespierre! Where are you???

Neopolitan Apr 6th, 2006 08:21 AM

OK, ahotpoet, but how does that work when you go to various places. I know locally a lot of people bring their laptops to Starbuck's but then have to pay separately to "hook into their system".
Will the card I buy work with all systems in Europe or will I still have to pay them for a connection if they have a different system.
Sorry, if this sounds silly. I just don't get it.

Neopolitan Apr 6th, 2006 08:23 AM

Oh, and while our large community theatre has a wireless network, cast members who bring their wireless laptops can't use them, because the system there is "password protected". Is that a usual problem when traveling?

Robespierre Apr 6th, 2006 08:26 AM

"Where does one go to learn this stuff without being laughed at for being computer illiterate?"

Answer: google <b>wireless dummies</b> and take your pick.

Robespierre Apr 6th, 2006 08:28 AM

Oh, I see a lot of questions have been posted while I was on the phone.

First things first: to access a wireless network, your computer has to have a short-range &quot;two-way radio&quot; in it to carry the information back and forth to another two-way radio, this one wired into the internet. Your radio can be either built into the laptop/PDA, plugged into a PC-Card (PCMCIA) slot, or jacked into a USB port. Windows XP will automatically configure your computer for a wide variety of adapters the instant you plug one in. There is only one current engineering standard, so if your adapter speaks &quot;802.11g&quot; (or even its slower predecessor 802.11b), it will work anywhere in the world.

The other thing that is required is that the Wireless Access Point (as the fixed-base radio is called) has to accept traffic from <u>your</u> radio. There are several layers to this, so please bear with me.

1. The network has to be &quot;open&quot; in that its owner has configured it to be visible to just any old computer. If the owner is really security-conscious, your computer will never see his network, because it only accepts traffic from specific machines which are designated at setup time. (Geek note: the WAP knows the MAC addresses of the allowed machines, and will only respond to them.)

2. The owner may have implemented a password scheme, which means that if you don't know the password, you can't get in. The password <i>du jour</i> is often supplied by a store when you buy either access time or something else that the store sells (such as coffee or hamburgers), thus ensuring that only their customers can play on their bandwidth.

3. The best of all possible worlds is to find a network that is wide open and doesn't require a password. Some feel using such a connection is immoral in some absolute sense, but I don't feel that using bandwidth that would otherwise be wasted is likely to stain my immortal soul any more than would using a M&eacute;tro ticket I found.

Seamus Apr 6th, 2006 08:58 AM

Simplest explanation:
1. You need a device in your computer to pick up the wireles signal - if one is not integrated, can use a PCMCIA type card or a USB device. Think of this as the &quot;antenna&quot;
2. You need to be in a place where there is a signal for your antenna to pick up
3. You need to have authorized access to use the available signal. Sometimes this involves paying a fee, sometimes it is free.
4. Some signals are password protected, some are not.
5. If you are using a peripheral rather than an integrated device, software usually comes with the device. You may or may not need this; your machine's operating system will likely be able to configure and use the device.

Neopolitan Apr 6th, 2006 09:06 AM

Many thanks, Robespierre. You have concisely said so much more than friends have in their hours of banter which simply flew over my head like so many flies.
I think I'm getting it.

So you're basically saying that it really doesn't matter if a place has a different wireless system -- only if they have it &quot;blocked&quot;. Right? And chances are that in Paris or Rome or London, I'll be able to find a place where my laptop (enabled for wireless) will work, even if I have to buy a coffee (what a minor inconvenience) to get a password of the day?

And my flat in London which butts up to a rather large office complex may even enable me to &quot;tap&quot; into their system automatically. If not, there are a couple of Cafe Nero's near by. Looks like I should have no problem. Probably fewer problems than I had last time trying to connect to provided high speed services in hotels and apartments.

Neopolitan Apr 6th, 2006 09:14 AM

And thanks to you Seamus. I was typing while you posted -- don't want it to look like I was ignoring your valuable comments.

wvmom Apr 6th, 2006 09:17 AM

When I went to Paris in December I took my laptop along, since the apartment I rented advertised &quot;free broadband internet&quot;. Unfortunately, when I plugged my laptop in, it insisted I needed some sort of software, which I didn't have, to connect. What I did have was a wireless card. I checked for available networks and found three of them within range. Two were password protected, but the third (named &quot;Thompson&quot;) was wide open. It was my connection for the week.

While this doesn't really help the OP with his connection at a hotel, others that are staying in apartments (or just wandering the street, for that matter!) may be able to connect in the same way that I did.

Mary_Fran Apr 6th, 2006 09:21 AM

Robespierre never disappoints ... If I tried to store all that knowledge in my head, my eyes would bug out.

While your brain is out there being picked over by your Fodorite pals, do you have any suggestions about programs to provide wi-fi security? I'm looking at the service offered by Does that look worth it to you? Or is there something else you could point me toward?

Seamus Apr 6th, 2006 10:46 AM

Thanks for the thanks - I feel so validated ;-)
Yes, you are correct that you may be able to tap into open, non-password protected networks. Being next to an office building doesn't make it more likely, though - businesses usually have some sort of security on their system. Last year in Istanbul I was literally hanging out the hotel window to pick up a signal from the neighborhood!

Robespierre Apr 6th, 2006 11:52 AM

The security rules for WiFi are the same as for wired networks:

Use a firewall.
Use an anti-virus.
Send sensitive data via SSL.
Turn off Windows File Sharing.

Rich Apr 6th, 2006 12:44 PM

For your notebook, you can use something like these:

If you watch the Sunday sales, you can likely get one at a real good price from CompUSA, BestBuy Office Depot . . . type stores.

Follow : Robespierre's advice on security.

ahotpoet Apr 6th, 2006 01:27 PM

Is your Thompson network is in the 17th arr? If so, I have used the same network and wish I knew who the Thompsons were so I can thank them. Little story here. One day I was on my way back to my hotel when I picked up a signal using my pda. There was a restaurant which was closed for lunch but there were tables on the sidewalk in the sunshine. I sat down, rested my feet, and spoke to my friend at home for about an hour using Skype.
I just love a deal!

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