How many WiFi networks can you pick up?

  Danoh 11:01 19 Apr 2006

Just curious to see how many other WiFi networks fellow forumites can pick up.

I'm in a greater London suburb and from an upstairs PC using an external Linksys (MIMO) antenna, I have picked up 2 more neighbouring WiFi networks since the Easter weekend.

Obviously, these networks I can scan are all broadcasting their SSIDs.
Todate, I have scanned 11;
2 have no security at all and anyone can hitch a ride.
Only 2 uses WPA encryption with all others using WEP.
Most default to channel 11.

My own WiFi network does not broadcast its SSID. Assuming there are 30% more networks which do not broadcast SSIDs (like mine), that would make a total of 14 neighbouring WiFi networks.

This seems a lot to me, although I am on high ground, so I wonder how many others can scan (with SSIDs being broadcasted) and the type of environment they are in;
a) Large Town/City
b) Built-up urban area
c) Less built-up large city suburbs
d) Small town/village
c) Rural countryside

Just out of curiosity......

  keewaa 12:37 19 Apr 2006

Just a thought but if you did hitch a lift on an unprotected wifi, do you not then open up your own computer to access from the wi-fi owner .... in other words .... could the owners of these unprotected wifi be doing this deliberately to hack into anyone who decides to get a free ride. I'd guess most are just people who don't realise but there may be some deliberate ones out there.

  Aargh 13:08 19 Apr 2006

If Danoh is starting a poll, I live in a smallish rural town, on a an estate of about 500 homes.

I can see 16 networks in a scan on average - most have no security at all. There are bound to be others who hide their SSID.

I have to confess to having gently probed some neighbours to see if they were susceptible to file sharing etc - they were a bit concerned to learn that I could type/edit a Word document on their system!! They also had no firewall or AV running.

Wifi has become a bit of a hackers paradise if you are that way inclined.

  Danoh 21:30 19 Apr 2006

Thanks for participating in the poll "Aargh" :-)
Looks like WiFi is pretty popular! I thought my scan of 11 was pretty high!
My count includes networks which are not always on though.
But at least only 2 were completelt unsecured!

Hi keewaa.
I'd also had that thought and I guess it is a possibility.

Thanks for posting!

  Taff™ 01:15 20 Apr 2006

Wireless networks are everywhere. "Hotspots" to which you subscribe are in every town. I was working on a train into (and out of) Birmingham earlier today and my laptop kept picking up wireless networks, I must turn that autoscan feature off because as soon as I had tried to connect to an unsecured network (just for the experience of course) The train had moved.

Seriously though, At home I can pick up 3 Wi-Fi "Access Points" - neighbours. When I`m at clients I can pick up about 4 or 5 maximum that are transmitting their SSID. The secret is to turn off your transmission of SSID. Hackers might get you but they`ve got to work for it.

Who cares anyway - I`m on unlimited download and my firewall means they can`t get access to my computers. Hang on! Who`s parked outside my house!

  Danoh 08:50 20 Apr 2006

Thanks for posting Taff™,

work locations/environments;
I'd expect that in almost all WiFi networks will not be set to broadcast their SSID and so will not be picked up via a standard scan.
Hotspots are easy to spot by their SSID; BT Openworld, etc.

Home location; are you in Birmingham city?

  Mr Mistoffelees 17:55 20 Apr 2006

I live in a tiny little town in South Somerset and the only network I can detect is mine.

  xyfas 18:02 20 Apr 2006

I regularly pick up 4 other networks, 2 unsecured with default management passwords. At different times and by moving my ariel slightly I can pick up three more.
I ive in a suburb of substantial (thick pre war walls) semi detached hses & with the limited power of home network devices, this is pretty good.


  tammer 19:42 20 Apr 2006

I live in a suburb 3 miles from the centre of Edinburgh and can only pick up 1 other wireless network. And it's secured although the SSID is broadcast as "Tolkien".

  Danoh 22:03 20 Apr 2006

Thats an excellent spectrum!!
My wireless clients downstairs only pick up 4 other networks in total, most of which are not switched on all the time.
As I'm on high ground, my upstairs wireless clients (with external antennas) can pick up more then double that number.

Looks like over 10 networks is pretty dense, which could cause more problems due to radio wave interference from neighbours' networks.

3-4 is probably an average.

But no real correlation to population density? (love the "Tolkien" SSID! Mine's just jibberish.. but its my own jibberish! :)

  ade.h 23:19 20 Apr 2006

One. Mine.

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