A PC view of wireless service. In this example, you see only two have open access. (You do not see if they both require a password). 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.

Hotels and Lodging


Library Branches






Private Wireless Networks

  • Montevalle Net, members only, residents of Montevalle of Scotts Valley.

Related Links


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. —