[EDIT 2018/03/27] Initially in the /. article and this post I wrote about APs but I meant the physical device. I was running the network in Ad-Hoc mode. Before the Belkin, I actually used a P150 laptop to host the AdHoc network of the same name probably even earlier than 2004. Maybe 2002? I had a PCMCIA card and created Free Public WiFi as an experiment.
One day I decided to take my 11 megabit 802.11b access point by Belkin with me to school. This was in 2004/2005. When I set up the network I made it an ad-hoc network called Free Public WiFi.
I wanted to give my laptop access, and students as well who had laptops with WiFi. The school didn’t have WiFi yet.
Well it seems to have spread to Toronto. I see networks by the same name everywhere, even in 2010. I sometimes wonder if it’s the same ad-hoc network I started spreading like a virus through people’s machines when they save the address.
You see Windows will connect to Free Public WiFi even if nobody is broadcasting in the area. You just become the first node.
Seems like others have noticed this phenomenon but have no clue where it started.