Open Park provides free Internet access at designated hotspot sites using the popular radio communications technology known as WiFi, short for wireless fidelity. WiFi relies upon the 802.11 family of data communications standards approved by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Any electronic device which has a WiFi capability -- a laptop computer, Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) or mobile phone -- should provide Internet access at an Open Park hotspot. To learn more about WiFi and the shared radio spectrum used by Open Park's WiFi network, click here.
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Capitol Hill - This hotspot provides service on the sidewalk and plaza in front of the Supreme Court and portions of the sidewalk and front steps of the Library of Congress. The service area also extends over 1st Street N.E. and the site now under construction for the Capitol Visitors' Center. This site has become popular with Capitol Hill tourists including visiting bloggers (someone who keeps an interactive web diary). http://www.howardgreenstein.com/blog/2003/01/07.html
Freedom Plaza/Pershing Park Site - This hotspot provides service on Freedom Plaza and Pershing Park. The strongest signal is between 14th and 15th street. The signal coverage extends toward 13th street and toward the Ellipse.
National Mall - A free WiFi coverage zone between 4th Street and 14th Street is being planned. Check back later for an update!
Connecting to the Internet
Step 1 - Verify Compatibility
To connect to an Open Park hotspot, you must have an 802.11b compatible wireless card or built in 802.11b wireless capability in your notebook computer or PDA. If your wireless card has a WiFi label, it will work with Open Park hotspots.
Step 2 - Configure Wireless Software
The Network Name or SSID should be configured to "openpark" (without the quotes). Note: If you are not familiar with how to configure the SSID for your network card or operating system, please refer to the documentation that came with the system or the manufacturer's web site. The Mode should be set to Infrastructure. WEP encryption should be disabled.
Step 3 - Open the Web Browser
Now launch your web browser. You should then see a welcome screen displaying the Open Park Acceptable Use Policy. You must review the Acceptable Use Policy and click "accept" in order to use Open Park's network.
Step 4 - Start Surfing the Internet
Once you click "accept", you should see another Open Park welcome page saying that you are logged on to the Internet. You may click on any of the links on the welcome page or enter another URL.
If you have trouble connecting or the connection is lost, try moving around to find a stronger hotspot signal. At this time, Open Park does not maintain a help line or provide online service support.
Just off the Mall, the FCC's headquarters (445 Twelfth St. S.W., at the corner of Maine Ave.) has a free public hotspot in the interior courtyard and the 8th floor lobby. There are also a growing number of pay-as-you go hotspots nearby the Mall at coffee shops, book stores and hotels. To find hotspot locations and prices, try one of these directories: