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Skype fires up a week of free Wi-Fi for you and you and you

The only thing better than the Internet is free Internet -- and everyone in the UK will be able to access the Web without paying a penny all next week, courtesy of Skype.

The only thing better than the Internet is free Internet -- and UK Web fans will be able to skate the Intertubes without paying a penny all next week, thanks to the generous types at Skype.

Skype is offering access to public Wi-Fi hotspots for nowt as part of Internet Week Europe, a celebration of the web starting on Monday 8 November and running until Friday 12.

To get involved, you'll need the clever Skype Access service. Skype Access is an app that allows you to use other companies' Wi-Fi hotspots and pay with Skype credit. It's particularly handy when away from home, as Skype has deals with wireless providers all over the world.

To take advantage of the gratis wireless, get the latest version of Skype for your computer or phone and create or log in to your Skype account from Monday. Choose a nearby public hotspot -- the app will tell you if it's one of the supported networks or not -- then log on and rock out.

You can choose from networks including Boingo, BT Openzone and The Cloud. That means free use in BAA airports, and of the new Wi-Fi services on the underground in London's Charing Cross station and across Glasgow Subway.

The week of Wi-Fi will be a taste of things to come for Londoners, as mayor-with-the-hair Boris Johnson has promised the big smoke will be a giant Wi-Fi hotspot by 2012.

While we're on the subject of free public Wi-Fi, never try to connect to 'Free Public Wi-Fi' when it appears in your list of hotspots. You're not connecting to the Internet, you're connecting to someone else's computer -- a quirk in Windows XP means computers that can't connect to the Web set up an ad hoc network with the name of the last network connected to, thus spreading the fake 'Free Public Wi-Fi' name from computer to computer. This 'zombie network' isn't harmful but could make you vulnerable -- and wastes your time as you try to figure out why the Internet isn't working.

Send us your comments -- how will you make use of your free Internets?