Get your free Wi-Fi at these cafes when you’re running out of data

When you have the urge to connect, make your way to these data-saving cafes

4G is nice, but if you're looking to keep your usage down, then we've got the connect.

The cafes below have an abundance of plug points and they aren't stingy with their wifi.

Though, you really should be nice about it and buy a drink to get the password, but you don't have to.

[Image source: Flickr, Flaticon]


Wi-Fi at Starbucks used to be behind an adwall: watch an ad, get Wi-Fi. It used to be so simple.

Now, you still have to sit through a 15-second ad, but you also have to give Starbucks your personal information as well as enter a pass code. Codes are printed on sales receipts, which means you need to buy something to get access. Patrons leave their receipts on the table, but a code is valid for two hours only, after which you'll have to ask for a new code from the counter.

Starbucks' Wi-Fi is powered by Y5ZONE, a public Wi-Fi provider in Singapore, and Y5ZONE are the people asking for your personal informatin, to register for a Y5ZONE account. I discovered the hard way that there's no way to login instead of registering.

For example, if you register for an account during a previous visit, there's no way to login with that account (yet). This means you have to register for an account every time you join the wifi network. And don't bother using one code for multiple devices, each code is locked to one device.

I wouldn't be going to the trouble to tell you all this if Starbucks had poor Wi-Fi. But it doesn't, it has great connectivity. I do my work at Starbucks all of the time. But if you don't like the hoops you have to jump through to get Wi-Fi, then skip Starbucks.

[Image source: Flickr]

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Coffee Bean goes after the yuppy demographic aggressively, for instance, by offering table service. But how does the Wi-Fi measure up? And is it really free?

Coffee Bean's service provider is Wowfi. After sitting through a 15-second ad, users have to sign up for a Wowfi account. Wowfi asks for less information than Y5ZONE and I was able to log on to the internet with multiple devices using the same account. Since I made an account ages ago, I could log in directly.

[Image source: Flickr]


Feeka was set up by the folks behind Food Foundry and Sitka. What's their Wi-Fi like?

Feeka's connection is fast, and the password's the same it's always been: 10ringgit. The staff can give you the password, it's also on sales receipts. There is no adwall, and you don't have register for an account or give your personal information.

After keying in the password, you're free to browse the web. Other users may affect the speed of the network, so it matters when you show up. There's a constant stream of traffic over the weekend.

Feeka has indoor and outdoor seating, but plug points are available indoors only.

[Image source: Eat Drink KL]

VCR Cafe

This cafe is located behind Swiss Garden Hotel inside a two-floor residential property. The cafe itself was an opening salvo of the gentrification of Jalan Galloway and its environs. Behind VCR, you'll find the Big Group-owned Barlai. On the first floor of the same building, the boutique hotel Sekeping Sin Chew Kee.

VCR Cafe has the lowest-budget and best signage around: a piece of paper mounted on a cardboard box. Tables closest to the counter have plug points. If all of those seats are taken, then try upstairs. The cafe is spread out over two floors; comfy couches and outdoor seating on the first floor and a spacious and intimate front porch and yard on the ground floor (for all of your smoke break needs).

Their Wi-Fi isn't behind an adwall and you don't have to give your personal information for access. All you need is the password, and you're in.

PULP by Papa Palheta

Pulp, VCR Cafe and Feeka are part of this new wave of coffee shops sweeping across the Klang Valley. They're a response to mass-market coffee chains like Starbucks and Coffee Bean and their one-size-fits-all coffee, but how does their Wi-Fi measure up? Pretty good. Pretty, pretty good.

Singaporean purveyors of coffee Papa Palheta set up shop in KL last year in the Art Printing Works compound, which houses letterpress printers The Alphabet Press.

Pulp's a great environment to do work in, but it can get a bit busy. There isn't much seating (relative to other cafes on this list), so be wary. Visit during off-peak hours to avoid disappointment.

Wi-Fi is behind a password, as with VCR and Feeka, which is available at the register.

[Image source: Silly Epiphany]

Final words

There's no such thing as a free lunch. Likewise, there's no such thing as free Wi-Fi. The cafes listed above, just a small representation of the cafes in KL, say that they offer free Wi-Fi, but getting access means walking up to the counter and interacting with the staff. Not free as in beer per se.

In 2011, the U.N. declared that internet access is a human right. Four years on from that declaration, what does that mean for us in KL? Do we have free Wi-Fi yet? The KL city council mandated free Wi-Fi in all restaurants back in 2012.

In 2015, your mileage might vary with Wireless@KL, KL's (supposedly) city-wide public Wi-Fi. I can't stand it (service is patchy, logging in is buggy, the speeds are abysmal) but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try it out.

Alternatively, use the Wifimapper to help you locate a cafe with a wifi network.

Meanwhile, property rates are rising by the day. Cafes that offer free wifi (on top of good service and great coffee) deserve our support, so that they'll be around for many days to come.

Did we miss your favourite cafe? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook.

[Image source: Wikipedia]