I typically don’t bother with free wi-fi hotspots. Why? Because they almost all require you to pull up a browser and jump through some hoops. Of course, if the network activity you are trying to do is not visiting a web site—like checking your e-mail—you’ll sit there wondering why the free wi-fi seems to be slower than the Edge network.
Even if you think to pull up Safari and jump through the hoops first, the whole process is still probably slower than having just checked your e-mail over the Edge.
Well, it seems that with the iPhone 3.0 firmware, AT&T has fixed that for their wi-fi hotspots—which are free for AT&T customers.