Whether you’re visiting DC area or whether you live here, getting connected (and staying connected) is always in the back of everyone’s minds. It’s just the world we live in. The good news is that DC has come a LONG way in the last few years. Let’s take you through all your options. But first, some public service announcements:
Disclaimer! Always be very careful when connecting to an open, unsecured (i.e. no password required) Wi-Fi network. Scammers have the ability to steal your personal information or gain control of your devices simply by you connecting to their rogue hotspot. Let’s say you’re in a cafe and you see two networks that don’t require passwords: “Cafewifi” and “FreeCafewifi”. How do you know which one is the right one? How do you even know that the cafe has Wi-Fi? When in doubt (and if possible), just ask!
Another disclaimer! Please keep in mind that you’re not anonymous when you’re browsing on a network. Any shady activity can still be tracked, so just stick to the cat memes and you’ll be good, mkay?
Now, on to the good stuff… Of course cafes, bars, restaurants, and Smithsonian museums are great places to get Wi-Fi in DC, but you already knew that. Here are other resources to help you get your data-game on (or off I guess since you’d be saving on your precious precious carrier data).
DC Public Wi-Fi
Did you know DC’s OCTO (Office of the Chief Technical Officer) maintains over 600 public Wi-Fi hotspots? It’s true and includes at all public libraries, many city parks, and on the National Mall. You can use this map or if you’re on the go you can get DC’s Wi-Fi finder apps
Image courtesy of the DC Office of the CTO
Airports and train stations all over the world have adopted Wi-Fi options, and the DC area is no different:
- Washington Reagan National Airport (DCA)
- Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
- Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (BWI)
- DC Metro stations – As of this writing, there are 30 metro stops that have Wi-Fi (the network is “metroinfo”) but all stations are scheduled to have Wi-Fi in 2018.
- Union Station has a network called “Union Station Free Wifi”, but my phone actually gave me a security alert when trying to connect to it. In my opinion… don’t risk it. You can try the free Wi-Fi at the H&M or from the DC Metro (if you’re close enough to the platform).
Did you know that many grocery stores like Whole Foods, Safeway, and Giant have Wi-Fi in DC? It’s definitely come in handy since the ones near my house tend to have some dead spots where my mobile data won’t reach.
If you’re an Xfinity customer you can connect to Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots all over DC (actually anywhere in the country really). Like it or not, if you’re a customer then your router is broadcasting the “xfinitywifi” signal in addition to your home Wi-Fi. When it was announced, this strategy was pretty controversial but in a pinch I can say for sure that it’s quite handy. When you connect to one of their hotspots it’ll ask you for your Xfinity login, and you’re good to go.