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CS155 Computer and Network Security

Published : 20-Aug,2021  |  Views : 10


Research the AT&T network of public hot spots across the nation. Write a report summarizing your findings and compare/contrast with Verizon's hot spot offerings.



Demand and technological capabilities have produced the current accessibility levels of information, particularly through mobile communication. Public hot spots or Wi-Fi connections as they are popularly known are a good example of mobile technology that offers flexible and adequate connection to the internet. This service (public hot spots) is now offered by almost all major cellular providers in an attempt to increase their customer base through convenience and efficiency, this report highlights this technology with a keen eye on one service provider AT&T with a brief comparison with Verizon, another service provider.


From the get go, AT&T seems to have seamlessly integrated its services across all mobile platforms, incorporating applications and services with mobile systems. For one, it’s the largest wireless network provider which includes public hotspots (Wi-Fi), an endeavour that is boosted by its usability numbers that have grown over 8000 percent over the past few years. Moreover, the current demand for mobile technology has necessitated the current demand that has led AT&T to incorporate automatic authentication of devices using its public hot spots, this makes it easier to access broadband connection despite the location.

As of recent studies, AT&T offers more than 40,000 hotspots across the United States and a further 215,000 global connections through roaming agreements. This accessibility and availability have again led to its increased user’s numbers that range in the millions, for instance, 246.8 million in 2011 in the US only. Furthermore, to supplement this application special hot zone have been established in major cities such as San Francisco and Chicago. Moreover, this hot zones will offer free services so long as the customers qualify for their wireless data through their initiatives of LaptopConnect or AT&T high-speed connection.

The diagram below highlights AT&T Wi-Fi hot spots across the United States.


Fig: AT&T Public Hot spots (Courtesy AT&T 2017)

From the diagram above, it’s easy to note a common trend, where the density of the connection is determined by the number of active users i.e. the demand.

Services Provided

Customers can access the different public hot spots based on the plan they are subscribed to, this offers different options, which again determine the data transferred.

  1. AT&T Wi-Fi basic – A basic facility that offers access to all users so long as they subscribe to AT&T wireless or internet connections. This category caters for all customers, providing a basic connection across all its public hotspots, however, with limited data options.
  2. High Speed Internet – An elite user whose download speeds range between 3.1 to 6.0 Mbps. These customers acquire unlimited access to all hot spots provided by the company.
  3. LaptopConnect – Also serves as an elite user having an unlimited access to public hotspots, so long as the device in use is LaptopConnect enabled.
  4. Wi-Fi on the Spot – Provides an extended range of services that is close to high-speed internet, however, an extra charge is required (approximately, 3.99 to 7.99 USD).

Comparison with Verizon

A close competitor to AT&T, Verizon offers similar services, however, the plans, especially for mobile and public hot spots, vary greatly with those of AT&T. For instance, while AT&T has a wider coverage than Verizon it seems to lag behind in terms of the plans that it offers through free Wi-Fi connections. Consider this, four different plans incorporate free hot spots connection as compared to AT&T’s one (Wi-Fi basic). In essence, any customer who subscribes to the New Verizon plan, Verizon plan, more everything plan and smartphones plans ($40, $50 and $70) will gain instant and free access to all available Verizon hot spots. Nevertheless, a detailed analysis of the two providers produces the following comparison outcomes:

Similarities and Differences



Deployment density is based on popularity i.e. more widespread in cities and metropolitan areas



Capabilities are determined by data plan, where more data guarantee improved speeds.

One free access option; Wi-Fi basic

More accessibility options (free) i.e. New Verizon plan, Verizon plan, more everything plan and smartphones plans. Plus Verizon Wi-Fi a similar option to Wi-Fi basic for AT&T

Applicable to all platforms i.e. Windows, IOS and Linux etc.

More access points (public hot spots)

Less access points

Coverage distance is similar, approximately 40 feet.

Higher speeds

Typical speeds 220Kbps – 6.41Mbps down, 130Kbps – 1.28Mbps up

Lower speeds

420Kbps – 1.34Mbps down, 100Kbps – 770Kbps up


Traditionally, AT&T and Verizon have always had an edge in service delivery, this includes the speeds and coverage established by each individual provider. Similarly, the same outcome is seen when it comes to public hot spots where demand is rapidly increasing. Moreover, different providers have different regional strengths based on access point’s availability and speeds. Therefore, for an end user, the choice between the two is easily determined by the region of residence and the packages required.


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Alex, Colon & Segan, Sasha, The Best Mobile Hotspots of 2017, 2017, PC magazine, accessed April 06, 2017,,2817,2400503,00.asp

AT&T, AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spot locations, 2017, AT&T maps, accessed April 06, 2017,

AT&T, The AT&T Wireless Network, 2017, accessed April 06, 2017,

Chris and Cherie, Technomadia’s Mobile Internet Setup, 2015, RV mobile internet resource center, accessed April 06, 2017,

Techomadia, Key Comparisons – WiFi, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile Go Head-To-Head. 2014, Tech review, accessed April 06, 2017,

Verizon, Mobile hot spots FAQs. 2017, Verizon wireless, accessed April 06, 2017,

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