Have you ever been out and about with your iPhone, gone to check your email and nothing happens? A quick glance at your status bar shows full Wi-Fi signal, but you have no connection. If you switch to Safari and try to load a webpage there is a very good chance you will have joined a Wi-Fi hotspot from companies such as BT Openzone, The Cloud, Virgin Media or O2.
When you search for a Wi-Fi network on your iOS device, you will notice some have a small padlock icon, and some don’t. The padlock means the network is secured with a password. So that must mean that any without a padlock are free to join, right? Well, not necessarily…
Free Wi-Fi isn’t always free!
In many bars, cafes, restaurants and hotels you will find what appear to be free Wi-Fi hotspots. They will show up on your device as a network with no password. Your iOS device will appear to be connected but if you were to jump straight in and check your email, the chances are nothing will happen. This is because although they don’t have a password to join the network, to actually gain access to the internet you may require an account or a login voucher.
With companies such as BT, many of their existing customers can gain free access to their BT Openzone hotspots by logging in to a webpage that appears when you load up Safari on your iPhone or iPad. If you are not a BT customer you may be able to buy vouchers for internet access on that same page.
Why would connecting to a BT Hotspot but not using the internet be a problem?
iPhones and iPads have a very handy feature that automatically remembers Wi-Fi networks you have joined. This is great at home or at work as it will automatically connect to Wi-Fi when possible to save on your mobile phone data charges. However, this can be frustrating if you have joined a BT hotspot in the past as your iOS device will automatically try to connect to a BT Hotspots as you walk around town.
To make matters worse, BT use a clever system where nearly all of their home customers’ Wi-Fi boxes broadcast a public network for their customers to share. On some streets your iPhone can be connected or trying to connect to a BT hotspot for the whole length. Some people resort to turning their Wi-Fi off but there is an easier way.
Tell your iOS device to “Forget this Network”
With a couple of clicks we can stop your iPhone or iPad from trying to connect to a particular network automatically.
Step 1 / Tap on “Settings”
Step 2 / Tap on “Wi-Fi”
Step 3 / Tap on the blue arrow next to the network name
Step 4 / Tap on “Forget this Network”
That’s it! Your iPhone or iPad will no longer join that network automatically when you are close by. If you ever need to connect to the network again in the future you can still pick it from the list of available networks.