Wi-fi is short for "wireless fidelity" and refers to the 802.11 standard for wireless communication. As the technology changes the standards change. You might find 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11i, 802.11n or greater. As a general rule the speed and range improves with each new standard. When searching for a wi-fi signal you will see the b, g, n or other letter.
If the signal is viewable and allows users without a password, Any computer can access it. Some require a password. In shops that advertise wi-fi, they will supply a password to paying customers.
Some places have software that prevents viewing to some sites deemed inappropriate. The list of inappropriate sites is controlled by the software makers and not the shop owners providing the wi-fi connection.
CAUTION Wireless Internet is not very secure. Access can be monitored and recorded by other computers (with the right software and hardware).
A common problem is maximum access. Some servers limit the number of users. Typically this is a power of two (32 or 64 etc.). This seems like a lot. As the software opens a channel for each user, it may leave it open after the user has turned off the computer and left the building. If the software leaves the channel open, it may stay assigned for a day. It runs out of channels and does not allow any more users until there has been enough quiet time or if the SERVER is reset. If the tiny router box is reset, everyone is off the Internet briefly, they get upset, and new users still can't get on. When the SERVER is reset, everyone is off the Internet briefly, they get upset, and new users and old users can get online when the server is ready. Typical symptom is a strong signal but no connection can be made.
Here is a list of the wireless Internet access points throughout Santa Cruz County. The list is constantly changing.
Free WiFi is available all over the county. Much of it is provided to businesses for free by Cruzio in exchange for advertising.
Sometimes called Internet Cafés.
- The Abbey (Westside)
- Aptos Coffee Roasting Company (Aptos)
- Cafe Ella (Watsonville)
- Caffe Bene (Downtown Santa Cruz)
- Caffe Pergolesi (Downtown Santa Cruz)
- Cat & Cloud Coffee (Santa Cruz)
- Chill Out Cafe (41st Avenue, Santa Cruz)
- Coffee 9 (Ben Lomond)
- Coffeetopia (Mission Street and Portola Drive locations)
- Firefly Coffee House (Downtown Santa Cruz)
- Java Junction (River Street and Seabright locations)
- The Kind Grind (East Cliff Drive)
- Lulu Carpenter's (Downtown)
- Mr. Toots Coffeehouse (Capitola)
- Starbucks (many locations in Santa Cruz County)
- SubRosa (Downtown Santa Cruz)
- Ugly Mug (Soquel)
- Verve Coffee Roasters (41st Avenue, Seabright, Downtown Santa Cruz, and Westside locations)
- Westside Coffee Company (Santa Cruz)
- Whale City Bakery Bar & Grill (Davenport)
- White Raven (Felton)
- Windmill Cafe (East Cliff Drive)
Hotels and Lodging
- Boulder Creek Village Wash & Dry (Boulder Creek)
- East Cliff Village Laundromat (Live Oak)
- Live Oak Laundromat (Within range of free wi-fi.)
- Seabright Laundry (Seabright)
- Ultramat (Downtown Santa Cruz)
- University Wash N Dry (Mission Street)
- Aptos Branch Library
- Boulder Creek Branch Library
- Branciforte Branch Library
- Capitola Branch Library
- Central Branch Library
- Felton Branch Library
- Garfield Park Branch Library
- La Selva Beach Branch Library
- Live Oak Branch Library
- Scotts Valley Branch Library
- 99 Bottles of Beer (Downtown Santa Cruz)
- The Bagelry (Downtown Santa Cruz, Seabright, and Soquel locations)
- Blue Lagoon (Downtown Santa Cruz)
- Britannia Arms (Capitola)
- Burger King (all locations in Santa Cruz County)
- Boulder Creek Brewery & Cafe (Boulder Creek)
- Canton Restaurant (Capitola)
- Capitola Mall Food Court (Capitola)
- Dharma's (Capitola)
- The Crêpe Place (Midtown)
- Heather's Patisserie (Aptos)
- IHOP (Capitola)
- Pacific Avenue Pizza & Grille (Downtown Santa Cruz)
- Redwood Pizzeria (Felton)
- Seabright Brewery (Seabright)
- Second Street Cafe (Watsonville)
- Subway (Watsonville - provided by the city)
- Super Grullense Taqueria (Watsonville)
- Sweet Spot (Midtown)
- Trout Farm Inn (Felton)
- UCSC, main campus (login as guest for free access)
- UCSC University Town Center / UCSC Extension (accessible from Taqueria Vallarta as well)
- Cabrillo College (must have passcode. For students and faculty. )
- County Government Center
- Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park (Felton) AT&T WiFi access which works from 150 to 200 feet from the park store
- FedEx Office (Capitola, Santa Cruz )
- Louden Nelson Community Center (Downtown Santa Cruz)
- Plaza Vigil (Watsonville)
- Beachview Inn Hourly, daily and monthly rates
- Coffee Cat (Scotts Valley) Hourly rate with purchase.
- McDonald's All locations. (To log on you need an account with Xfinity or AT&T.)
- Peet's Coffee & Tea (Capitola, Downtown, Scotts Valley) — One hour with purchase.
Private Wireless Networks
- Montevalle Net, members only, residents of Montevalle of Scotts Valley.
2012-04-09 18:39:12 I would argue against using the word free, at most of these locations, one has to BUY something from the business, get receipt from them that has a time limited password first before getting Internet. That is not free wireless. —184.108.40.206