I was recently in Chicago, lamenting the fact that, to use the Boingo WiFi at the airport for a mere half hour, I'd need to pay $6.95; rather than pay this outrageous amount (since I already have an iPhone with Internet access, and the WiFi would be a convenience, I looked to Google for some help.
It is well documented that you can simply change your browser's "User-Agent" to use the 'Mobile Safari - iPhone' profile, and trick certain hotspot locations into giving you free access (this will work for any AT&T Wireless location, such as Starbucks, as long as you also have a valid iPhone number).
Get Cheaper Access on Boingo
To get an almost half-off discount on Boingo WiFi hotspots, you simply need to do three things:
In Safari (or in FireFox using the plugin linked to below), enable the 'Develop' menu (in Safari's preferences > advanced section), and then select "Mobile Safari 3.0 - iPhone" from the Develop > User Agent menu. (See graphic below for Safari).
- Try accessing a web page, and you'll be redirected to Boingo's mobile login, which is considerably cheaper ($3.95 for an hour, rather than $6.95!).
- Enter your account information and credit card, and set up your account.
Once you do these things, you might be warned by Boingo that you need to download their app from the App store; ignore this, close your browser window, and open a new window. Set the User Agent back to Mobile Safari 3.0, and login using the account information you just entered for Boingo. Now you can enjoy WiFi from your Mac laptop!
For Windows PCs, the process is similar, but you'll need to use FireFox or Safari for Windows if you want to more easily change the user-agent. Here's the FireFox plugin for changing the User Agent string.
Get Free Access on AT&T WiFi
You can use the same instructions as above to access the Internet through an AT&T WiFi Hotspot:
In Safari (or in FireFox using a plugin), enable the 'Develop' menu (in Safari's preferences > advanced section), and then select "Mobile Safari 3.0 - iPhone" from the Develop > User Agent menu. (See graphic below for Safari).
- Try accessing a web page, and you'll be redirected to AT&T's iPhone login.
- Enter your iPhone's mobile number, and enjoy the free WiFi!
These methods are subject to change over time, as WiFi providers are notoriously stingy about allowing free or cheap access to their networks... but I figure AT&T makes more than double what they should from me each month; plus, I paid for their home DSL for over a year and had intermittent service; the few hours I use their WiFi Hotspots make up for that time of not having a connection ;-)