Technically speaking, hotspots consist of one or several wireless access points installed inside buildngs and/or adjoining outdoor areas. These APs are typically networked to printers and/or a shared high-speed Internet connection. Some hotspots require special application software be installed on the Wi-Fi client, primarily for billing and security purposes, but others require no configuration other than knowledge of the network name (SSID).
Wireless service providers like T-Mobile generally own and maintain hotspots. Hobbyists sometimes setup hotspots as well, often for non-profit purposes. The majority of hotspots require payment of hourly, daily, monthly, or other subscription fees.
Hotspot providers strive to make connecting Wi-Fi clients as simple and secure as possible. However, being public, hotspots generally provide less secure Internet connections than do other wireless business networks.