As mentioned in the Helsinki Mini Guide and shown by the online Service Map service, Helsinki is technologically competent. She understands the current technology first state of the world, and moves in tune with it. So it should come as no surprise that free public WiFi provided by the city can be found all around the city core. Not just free, but free and fast! As visitors to the city, this is a perk that is much appreciated.
We’re on vacation, why do we want to be on our computing devices or smartphones? But let’s face it. Some people just need that fix. It’s like quenching your first with that first sip of water after being dehydrated from a long, dry spell. A more practical reason would be to use the WiFi to help with directions or to search for something nearby without resorting to expensive data roaming charges. We can also plan ahead at home as we prepare our itinerary. For example, knowing that you will visit the Three Smiths statue, and that there is a WiFi hotspot there, jot a note in your plan that is where you can do some quick internet activity. With that in mind, let’s see what Helsinki offers in terms of public WiFi.
What we are going to do in this post is to use the Service Map website that I wrote up here, to help us find where the city’s free public WiFi hotspots are located. Before doing that let’s go over a few basic things.
The SSID is the name of the public WiFi that you will connect to. In Helsinki, the city’s public and open SSID is “Helsinki City Open WLAN“.
A WiFi (or WLAN) hotspot is the limited area where the WiFi signal is broadcasting, that is, where you will see the SSID on your device. Walk out of this hotspot area and you lose connection to the SSID and thus the internet.
Where are the Hotspots?
Let’s use the Service Map (servicemap.hel.fi) to find the city’s WiFi hotspots. First, in your “My Preferences” area, ensure no city is selected otherwise your search will yield no results. This is because there is no physical address attached to these service points. Next, the term to use to find the WiFi hotspots is “WLAN base station“. The search results should return a list of 19 Service Points as well as having 19 pins drop onto the map. Alternatively, you can search for the Service Category “WLAN Outlets“. The Service Map would return one result, WLAN Outlets, and clicking this would give the list of 19 WiFi hotspots as well. This list of 19 WLAN Outlets are broadcasting out in the streets so standing anywhere near them – you should be able to connect to the SSID.
In contrast, there are WLAN Inlets. That is, WiFi that is available inside buildings. Do a search for the term “WLAN Inlets“. The Service Map would return a list of 68 WiFi hotspots. Just as an FYI, unlike the Inlets example above where the Service Point was “WLAN base station”, here, the Service Points and the Service Category are both WLAN Inlets.
How would we get both the WLAN Inlets and Outlets together in the same list? The search term for this would be “Wireless Internet WLAN”. The Service Map would return one Service Category which has a list of 87 (19 Outlets + 68 Inlets) Service Points (the city’s WiFi hotspots). Remember, we are looking specifically for the city’s WiFi hotspots. We are not including things like the WiFi from hotels or restaurants, etc. In those cases, you can search for the term “WiFi” or “Wireless” but you will find the list incomplete at best I would presume. As this is a service for locating the service points offered by the city’s municipalities. I would assume if the hotel does not provide the city does information then it will not be listed as having a WiFi hotspot service.
Finally, if you have trouble locating any WiFi hotspots, then ask any of the Helsinki Helpers that you are likely to encounter roaming the streets of the city. They would be able to help you or at worst, contact someone on their team who can get you to one of the city’s public WiFi hotspots.
Making the Connection
Connecting to the “Helsinki City Open WLAN” is simple. Just accept the warning that this is a public network and thus not 100% foolproof secure (so don’t do your banking here!), and you have internet access! Unlike most free internet access points everywhere else in the world, there is no need to register an email address, or provide your name, or any of those usual particulars. You can’t ask for more, it’s as straightforward as it can get.
Let me know in the comments below if you took advantage of this free Helsinki internet access. As well, if this information helped in any way, please share the article. Enjoy!