As we transition to virtual learning for the rest of the semester, here are some resources to connect to the internet no matter where you are.
Free and Reduced-Cost Internet Options
Although Ohio State does not promote or endorse any specific vendor, if you need internet access, one of these options may be right for you.
Using Public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi is a “free wireless” internet connection that is usually advertised by coffee shops, restaurants, airports, hotels and many other places that usually involve travel, hospitality and food. Public Wi-Fi is either secured or unsecured.
Secured public Wi-Fi:
- Requires password to use
- Encrypted so that outsiders won’t be able to intercept data
- Is the better option
Unsecured public Wi-Fi:
- Does not require a password
- Unencrypted so that outsiders may see, or “sniff” data
- Susceptible to attacks/may be an elaborate ruse
Public Wi-Fi usually does not require a password and offers no protection to its users. Public Wi-Fi is also easy to “clone” and create a rogue Wi-Fi access point. A rogue Wi-Fi access point is Wi-Fi that pretends to be legitimate but is controlled by someone who wants to steal your data. There is no assurance that your data is private while using a public Wi-Fi. Read more about public Wi-Fi security concerns and tips.
- Always choose secured public Wi-Fi over unsecured.
- Don’t log into password-protected sites (such as banking, social media, school, etc.)
- Don’t shop online
- Turn off automatic connectivity on your device
Using Mobile Hotspots
Many smartphones enable the creation of a mobile hotspot through tethering, accessing the phone's existing cellular data connection. Please contact your cell phone carrier to explore your options if you do not have a personal hotspot available on your current plan (some internet providers are temporarily offering expanded mobile hotspot service to customers. See below for more information).
AT&T - Unlimited Data for Current Users
All AT&T consumer home internet wireline customers, as well as Fixed Wireless Internet, can use unlimited internet data. AT&T is also offering internet access for qualifying limited income households at $10 a month through the Access from AT&T program.
BroadbandOhio: Ohio Wi-Fi Hotspot Locations
BroadbandOhio – the state’s office dedicated to improving access to high-speed internet – has been working with providers to find public hotspot locations that Ohioans can use in areas where they may not otherwise have access to internet from home.
See a listing of free Wi-Fit locations across Ohio here.
Charter/Spectrum - Free Access
Spectrum is offering 60-day free service to households with students at speeds up to 100 Mbps for those who do not already have a subscription. Charter will also continue offering Spectrum Internet Assist for low-income households that offers speeds up to 30 Mbps. To enroll in the program, call 1-844-488-8395. The company said that all installation fees will be waived for new student households.
Spectrum customers also have access to free Wi-Fi at hundreds of locations in the United States. See a map here.
Comcast - Free Access
Eduroam: National and International Access with Name.#
Ohio State students, faculty and staff can access the internet at more than 3,000 locations worldwide using eduroam (education roaming), a secure network service that can be accessed using your Ohio State name.# login credentials.
Keep Americans Connected Pledge
Multiple broadband and telephone service providers have signed a pledge with the FCC to ensure that Americans do not lose their connectivity as a result of these exceptional circumstances caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The Keep Americans Connected Pledge reads as follows:
Given the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on American society, this company pledges for the next 60 days to:
- Not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic
- Waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic
- Open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.
Read more about which companies have signed the Keep Americans Connected Pledge.
Sprint - Unlimited Data for Current Users
Sprint is following the FCC pledge, will provide unlimited data to existing customers, and, beginning Thursday, March 19, 2020, will allow all mobile hotspot-capable handsets to enable hotspots for 60 days at no extra charge.
T-Mobile - Unlimited Data for Current Users
T-Mobile is following the FCC pledge, plus offering unlimited data to existing customers, and, coming soon, will allow all handsets to enable hotspots for 60 days at no extra charge.
Verizon has posted no special offers but is following the FCC pledge.
Campus Wi-Fi Offerings
Carmack 5 Lot - West End
1080 Carmack Road
Columbus, OH 43210
The Webb Parking Lot
4240 Campus Dr
Lima, OH 45804
Riedl Hall Parking Lot
1760 University Drive
Mansfield, OH 44906
Alber Student Center Parking Lot
1463 Mt Vernon Ave
Marion, OH 43302
Adena Hall Parking Lot
1159 University Dr
Newark, OH 43055
Land Laboratory Parking Lot
6197 Dover Rd
Wooster, OH 44691
Connecting to Wi-Fi at Home
Using Wi-Fi at Home
Setting up secure Wi-Fi at home is easy. The first step is to change the default administrator password, which is usually not very strong.
It is also extremely important that you choose a secure encryption protocol. Encryption protocols are what protect your password, keys, data and all other types of information sent over the wireless connection. We strongly recommend using WPA-3 (Wi-Fi Protected Access III) where possible, WPA-2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access II) and disabling WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) if not.
At home, we recommend that users:
- Avoid using a router’s default admin password.
- Create a strong, unique password for the Wi-Fi connection.
- Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when working remotely.
- Disable Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS).
- Use the best/latest encryption available.
- Keep the router’s firmware updated (turn on auto-updates if available).
Importance of Wi-Fi Passwords
The Wi-Fi password is a pre-shared key (PSK) that ensures the privacy and protection of your data and internet connection.
Your Wi-Fi password is important to ensure that the data flowing to and from your internet connection is secure from outsiders. It also ensures that your internet connection is private; you wouldn’t want a stranger using your internet connection!
If your Wi-Fi is not password protected or if your password is weak, a stranger can connect to your Wi-Fi router and use your internet connection, potentially even to conduct illegal activities. If this were to happen the authorities would knock on your door to ask questions.
1. Have a password.
This may be hard to believe, but many people still insist on not securing their own Wi-Fi at home. The first step to defending your data and internet connection is to set up any type of defense at all.
2. Have a strong password.
Password cracking is literally a science. A password that is difficult to guess (through social engineering and open-source intelligence gathering) and also difficult to brute force (by being long enough and relatively complex) is a strong password.
Ohio State recommends:
- At least 8 characters long
- A mix of CAPITALS, lowercase, numb3r5, and $ymbol$.
- To avoid using common dictionary words such as “football” or “password”. Check the most common passwords to avoid.
- Cycling passwords every 90-180 days (Ohio State’s standard is to cycle passwords at minimum, in 180-day increments.)
Please note: Many routers are shipped with default passwords such as “admin” or “password.” It is important to change these defaults as soon as possible. Manufacturer specifications, including default passwords, are freely available on the internet. We recommend changing both factory passwords and the factory SSID (Service Set Identifier, or the Wi-Fi “name” that pops up when scanning for available Wi-Fi).
Also, some new routers are shipping with complex, unique passwords. It is still a good idea to change these as well as the SSID. Consult your user manual or ISP to get directions on how to change your password.