System Administration Guide: Network Interfaces and Network Virtualization

Finding a WiFi Network

WiFi networks typically come in three varieties:

A location that is served by WiFi is referred to as a hot spot. Each hot spot includes an access point. The access point is a router with a “wired” connection to the Internet, for example, Ethernet or DSL. The Internet connection is usually through a wireless Internet service provider (WISP) or traditional ISP.

Commercial WiFi Networks

Many hotels and cafes offer wireless Internet connections as a service to their customers with laptop computers. These commercial hot spots have access points within their facilities. The access points are routers with wired connections to a WISP that serves commercial locations. Typical WISPs include independent providers and cellular phone companies.

You can use a laptop that runs the Solaris OS to connect to a WiFi network that is offered by a hotel or other commercial hot spot. Ask for instructions at the hot spot for connecting to the WiFi network. Typically, the connection process involves supplying a key to a browser that you launch upon login. You might have to pay a fee to the hotel or WISP in order to use the network.

Commercial locations that are Internet hot spots usually advertise this capability to their patrons. You can also find lists of wireless hot spots from various web sites, for example,

Municipal WiFi Networks

Cities throughout the world have constructed free municipal WiFi networks, which their citizens can access from systems in their homes. Municipal WiFi uses radio transmitters on telephone poles or other outdoor locations to form a “mesh” over the area that the network serves. These transmitters are the access points to the municipal WiFi network. If your area is served by a municipal WiFi network, your home might be included in the network's mesh.

Access to municipal WiFi is usually free. You can access the municipal network from a properly equipped laptop or personal computer that runs the Solaris OS. You do not need a home router to access the municipal network from your system. However, configuring a home router is recommended for areas where the signal from the municipal network is weak. Home routers are also recommended if you require secure connections over the WiFi network. For more information, see Secure WiFi Communications.

Private WiFi Networks

Because WiFi networks are relatively easy to configure, companies and universities use private WiFi networks with access limited to employees or students. Private WiFi networks typically require you to supply a key when you connect or run a secure VPN after you connect. You need a properly equipped laptop or PC that runs the Solaris OS and permission to use the security features in order to connect to the private network.