Definition under: Definitions

What is a Hotspot?

A hotspot is a physical location that provides wireless Internet access, typically via Wi-Fi, to devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets. This access point is usually created by a wireless router connected to an Internet service, allowing multiple devices to connect to the network within a certain range. 

Dissecting Hotspot

The concept of wireless hotspots can be traced back to the development of Wi-Fi technology in the late 1990s. The Wi-Fi standard, known as IEEE 802.11, was introduced in 1997 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The first commercial Wi-Fi network was established in 1999 by a company called MobileStar, which provided wireless Internet access in Starbucks coffee shops.

The term "hotspot" became popular as Wi-Fi networks expanded and more public spaces began offering wireless Internet access. The creation of Wi-Fi hotspots was driven by the increasing demand for portable Internet connectivity, enabling people to stay connected outside of their homes and offices.

Key Components of a Hotspot

Access points and routers play a crucial role in creating a hotspot, as they facilitate the wireless connectivity that enables devices to connect to the Internet. 

Access point: 

  • An access point (AP) is a hardware device that connects to a wired network (usually Ethernet) and broadcasts a Wi-Fi signal within a certain range, allowing wireless devices to connect to the network.
  • The access point is responsible for transmitting and receiving Wi-Fi signals, and it typically has one or more antennas that allow it to broadcast the signal over a larger area.
  • Access points can be standalone devices or integrated into routers, creating a unified device for both wired and wireless connectivity. When integrated into a router, the access point is responsible for providing the wireless connectivity, while the router is responsible for managing the network and providing internet connectivity.


  • A router is a hardware device that is responsible for managing and directing data traffic between devices on the network and the internet. It connects to the internet service provider (ISP) through a modem, which establishes the link between the local network and the internet.
  • The router is responsible for assigning IP addresses to connected devices, enabling them to communicate with each other and access external resources. It uses network address translation (NAT) to assign private IP addresses to devices on the local network, and it communicates with external networks using a public IP address provided by the ISP.
  • Routers also provide security features, such as firewalls and parental controls, to protect the network and its users from potential threats. These features help to filter out unwanted traffic and prevent unauthorized access to the network.

How it Works

To create a dependable and secure Wi-Fi network in a particular location, access points and routers work together.

  1. The access point (AP) and router are connected using an Ethernet cable, creating a wired connection between the two devices. The access point is typically configured to operate in "access point" mode, which enables it to provide wireless connectivity to devices within range.
  2. The router is responsible for managing the network and providing internet connectivity. It is typically connected to a modem, which establishes the link between the local network and the internet.
  3. The access point broadcasts a wireless network using radio frequency signals. The wireless network has a unique network name (SSID) and is secured with a password or other authentication method.
  4. When a wireless device (such as a laptop or smartphone) is within range of the wireless network, it sends a request to the access point to join the network. The access point responds by sending an authentication request to the device, which may include a password or other authentication method.
  5. Once the device is authenticated, it is assigned an IP address by the router. The IP address is used to identify the device on the network and enables it to communicate with other devices on the network and the internet.
  6. The device can now access the internet through the router's internet connection. When the device sends a request to access a website or other online resource, the request is sent through the wireless network to the router, which then forwards the request to the internet.
  7. When the online resource responds to the request, the response is sent back to the router, which then forwards it back to the device through the wireless network.

Types of Hotspots

There are several types of hotspots, each serving different purposes and catering to different user needs. The main types of hotspots include:

Public Hotspots

These are Wi-Fi networks provided in public spaces such as cafes, hotels, airports, libraries, and parks. Public hotspots can be free or require payment or authentication, like a password or access code, to use the service. They are typically set up and maintained by businesses or local governments to offer convenient Internet access to the public.

Private Hotspots

Private hotspots are Wi-Fi networks created for personal or organizational use, often restricted to authorized users. These can be found in homes, offices, or other private spaces. Private hotspots usually have password protection to ensure only approved devices can access the network.

Mobile Hotspots

Mobile hotspots are created by devices like smartphones, tablets, or dedicated mobile hotspot devices that can share their cellular data connection with other devices via Wi-Fi. This allows users to have Internet access in areas where Wi-Fi networks are unavailable or unreliable. Mobile hotspots typically have data limits and can be subject to the cellular carrier's network coverage and data plan restrictions.

Community Hotspots

These are Wi-Fi networks set up by communities, neighborhoods, or groups to provide shared Internet access to its members. Community hotspots can be created by individuals or organizations and may require users to contribute resources, such as bandwidth or equipment, to maintain the network.

Recently Added Definitions