How to make Hotspot connection better

how to create a hotspot connection and how to set up hotspot connection and how to make a hotspot connection faster and how to manage hotspot connections
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Published Date:26-10-2017
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41_275191-bk07ch01.qxp 6/16/08 10:16 PM Page 603 Chapter 1: Wi-Fi Hotspots, Hot Zones, and Cities In This Chapter  Untangling the public Wi-Fi types — Wi-Fi hotspots, hot zones, and muni wireless networks  Equipping yourself to search for public wireless Internet  Connecting to public Wi-Fi networks  Securing your Wi-Fi communications  Getting past the e-mail block on Wi-Fi hotspots our home network is not the only place where you can access the Y Internet. These days, you have a dazzling array of places to choose from — hundreds of thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots, hot zones, and municipal networks — to connect to the Internet with your laptop and other mobile devices. These Wi-Fi locations throughout the world can serve as an exten- sion of your home network, connecting you to the digital world when you’re away from home. In this chapter, you discover exactly what types of public networks are out there, how to find and connect to them, and how to stay secure. Understanding Wi-Fi Hotspots and Hot Zones Wi-Fi hotspots are locations or areas with wireless Internet access that is intended for public use, usually within a single building. In a hotspot or hot zone, Internet access may be provided either for free or for a fee. You can find Wi-Fi hotspots at just about any location where you might pop open your laptop or pull out your PDA, VoIP phone, or other mobile device that makes use of the Internet, including: ✦ Hotels, motels, timeshares, and vacation homes ✦ Airplanes and cruise ships ✦ Cafés, coffee shops, and restaurants 6/16/08 10:16 PM Page 604 604 Finding Wi-Fi Hotspots ✦ Bookstores and libraries ✦ Airports and train and bus stations ✦ Shopping centers and shipping and mailing stores When wireless Internet access covers larger areas, such as a few city blocks or a collection of buildings, it’s referred to as a Wi-Fi hot zone. This type of network, such as what you find on a college or company campus, can sup- port access for hundreds or thousands of users. Even larger Wi-Fi networks exist that offer wireless Internet access to hundreds of thousands of users (or even more than a million). These net- works are called municipal (muni for short) or Metro-scale networks, and in the past several years, cities and counties (and even some small countries) have set up wireless networks to support the Internet needs of their resi- dents, businesses, travelers, and government departments. Though all the public Wi-Fi location types are discussed in this chapter, in many areas you’ll see that the text refers only to hotspots, but in many cases this applies to all public network types, Wi-Fi hot zones, and municipal wire- less networks as well. The way you go about finding the different types of Wi-Fi locations varies, but the way you connect with, use, and secure each type is pretty much the same across the board. Finding Wi-Fi Hotspots These days, most major brands or chains of hotels, restaurants, and stores offer some type of wireless Internet access. Even some mom-and-pop stores are getting techy and setting up hotspots. When it comes to figuring out whether a certain place offers wireless Internet or searching for locations, you have many available options and techniques. Keep your eye out for signs When you’re out and about, the best thing to do when trying to find a Wi-Fi hotspot is just open your eyes. Most places that offer this access let you know with signage. You may find a decal, for example (see Figure 1-1) on the doors or windows of the location. You may also see signs or tent cards displayed within the establishment. These signs may say something like “Wi-Fi Hotspot,” “Wi-Fi Here,” or “Wireless Internet.” Hotspots, Hot Zones, and Cities 41_275191-bk07ch01.qxp 6/16/08 10:16 PM Page 605 605 Finding Wi-Fi Hotspots Figure 1-1: Example of a “Wi-Fi here” sign. Book VII Chapter 1 Check online from your home computer or while on the go If you need to plan where you can get Internet access before you leave home, or if you can’t find a hotspot location on foot, you can always turn to the computer and search the following: ✦ Online directories: When you have access to the Internet, you can check online directories of hotspots on Web sites, such as ✦ Downloadable directories: If you plan on using Wi-Fi hotspots often, you might want to download hotspot directories to your computer. That way, if you get nervous because you can’t find a hotspot when you’re out in the world, away from your usual Internet access, you can just pop open your laptop to find the nearest hotspot location. Check out the following Web sites (or hotspot directories) that offer downloadable software directories: 6/16/08 10:16 PM Page 606 606 Finding Wi-Fi Hotspots ✦ Mapping software and Web sites: Another way to find Wi-Fi hotspots is through mapping software and Web sites, such as Yahoo Maps ( and Google Maps (http://maps Though this type of software shouldn’t be your only source, you can usually use the search function of mapping applications (just search using the keyword “hotspot”) to find hotspots near the loca- tion you’re zoomed in on. This is a great (and timesaving) way to take a quick look for hotspots when getting maps or directions. Check your network list When trying to locate a hotspot, you can always just turn on your laptop or mobile device and see what nearby wireless networks show up on your list of available networks (which you find by accessing your network icon). Look for unsecured or unencrypted networks. Keep in mind, though, that you might see some private networks left unsecured, which you should leave alone because connecting to them is illegal. Sometimes it’s difficult to differ- entiate these from networks intended as public hotspots; however, here are a few tips that can help you verify them: ✦ Look: Check for signs in the establishment. ✦ Ask: Ask the staff or property owners whether wireless Internet access is available there. ✦ Assume: If neither of the preceding suggestions works out, you’re proba- bly safe in assuming that a wireless network named after an establish- ment or company that is left unsecured is a public hotspot. Use Wi-Fi finders If you regularly use Wi-Fi hotspots, a Wi-Fi finder (Figure 1-2 shows an example) might be something you can really use. You can carry the gum- pack–sized device around in your pocket. When you want to check what wireless networks are around, you can pull out the device and see informa- tion about nearby networks on the small LCD screen. You see information on each network, such as signal strength, network name, and security status. This is usually enough information to differentiate a hotspot from a public network. You can even get combination devices, such as USB wireless adapters with built-in Wi-Fi finders. See Book VI, Chapter 3 for more information. Hotspots, Hot Zones, and Cities 41_275191-bk07ch01.qxp 6/16/08 10:16 PM Page 607 607 Finding Municipal Networks Figure 1-2: Use a Wi-Fi finder to locate nearby wireless networks. Courtesy of Cisco Systems, Inc. Book VII Chapter 1 Sign up for reliable access If you are a frequent traveler or hotspot user and are willing to pay for access, you should look into signing up with a Wi-Fi hotspot provider. Having this resource gives you better chances of finding reliable hotspots through- out the United States and abroad. As you may have found out already, find- ing free hotspots isn’t always easy and can be frustrating. Rather than pay per hotspot session or per day, you can get monthly sub- scriptions for as low as 20 per month that you can use with more than 100,000 locations. Plus, you won’t have to search for free hotspots anymore. Before you leave home, you can see exactly where wireless networks exist in the areas you’re traveling through and around your destination. Two popular hotspot providers are Boingo ( and T-Mobile ( Finding Municipal Networks You can use the same searching techniques for municipal Wi-Fi networks as those for traditional Wi-Fi hotspots (discussed in the previous section), plus the techniques described next. 6/16/08 10:16 PM Page 608 608 Connecting to Wi-Fi Hotspots Local media outlets Check the Web sites of local newspapers and news stations and search the news or IT (Information Technology) section of the city or county Web site. Online news sites Browse through online Web sites that cover municipal Wi-Fi topics, such as the following: ✦ In particular, the list of U.S. cities and coun- ties available in the resources section ✦ In particular, the Metro-Scale Networks category Connecting to Wi-Fi Hotspots Using Wi-Fi hotspots is similar to using your wireless network at home; how- ever, you should understand a few important differences, discussed through- out this section. When you find a Wi-Fi hotspot, connecting is similar to what you do with your home network. Here are the basic steps: 1. Connect to the Network. Choose the network name from your list of available wireless networks and click Connect or OK. For step-by-step directions, refer to Book IV, Chapter 1. 2. Open your Web browser. If your regular home page shows up, you’re probably done and can start using the Internet as you want. However, most hotspots have a splash or portal page, which automatically comes up instead of your home page; this feature is called captive portal. Figure 1-3 shows an example. 3. Accept terms, make payment, or both. If a splash screen does appear, it usually displays the terms of service or rules of using the hotspot, or maybe shows just a portal page with advertisements. After reviewing the page, you should know whether you can access the Internet for free or have to pay for it first. Follow the directions given and, if necessary, accept the terms and make payment to proceed. Hotspots, Hot Zones, and Cities 41_275191-bk07ch01.qxp 6/16/08 10:16 PM Page 609 609 Securing Your Hotspot Connections Figure 1-3: A hotspot splash page opens instead of your home page. Book VII Chapter 1 Securing Your Hotspot Connections Using a Wi-Fi hotspot poses risks similar to using your wireless home net- work without encryption, as discussed in Book III, Chapter 2. Wi-Fi eaves- droppers can capture the Web sites you visit and the login information you use for unsecured (non-SSL) Web sites and services (including POP3 e-mail accounts). Furthermore, any files or folders you have shared may be accessi- ble to the other hotspot users. What’s an “SSL” Web site, you’re wondering? SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer (also sometimes seen as Secure Sockets Layer), which is an encryption standard for securing Web pages. Securing your real-time traffic Real-time traffic consists of the Web sites you visit, login information, and any other content or data transferred to and from your computer and the public network. To secure your real-time traffic, you should follow a few safety measures: 6/16/08 10:16 PM Page 610 610 Securing Your Hotspot Connections Use a virtual private network (VPN) connection A virtual private network, or VPN, is a technique to securely connect remote computers. A VPN network can consist of computers around the world, connected via the Internet, with all the traffic being encrypted and extremely secure from one computer to another. VPNs traditionally are used within businesses to allow employees to access their work files when away from the office. You can also use VPN technology to secure your hotspot traffic. This method can provide even better encryption and security than what you get on your wireless home network using WPA or WEP. Here are a few ways to use VPNs to make your hotspot connections secure: Use a company-provided VPN If your work involves regular computer usage, you should inquire with your boss or the company IT or tech team about any available VPN access and the procedures and rules related to its use. Even though you may not always want to access your work files, you can connect to and use the VPN connec- tion to secure your real-time traffic from people at the hotspot locations. Use hosted hotspot access or software You may want to consider using hosted hotspot security solutions that make use of VPN or SSL technology, such as the following: ✦ AnchorFree Hotspot Shield ( hotspot-shield/): Free ✦ JiWire Hotspot Helper ( Free trial, then around 25 per year ✦ WiTopia’s personalVPN ( Around 40 per year What to do if you don’t use a VPN connection If you don’t use a VPN (or SSL) connection to encrypt all your real-time traf- fic while you’re on a hotspot, you should at least follow a few minimal secu- rity measures, as follows: ✦ Secure any services used: Make sure any Internet services you use, such as POP3 e-mail and FTP for file transfers, are secured. Some e-mail hosts provide SSL encryption for e-mail accounts, which you have to set up in your e-mail client. If not, most e-mail providers do offer secure access to accounts through a Web site. Hotspots, Hot Zones, and Cities 41_275191-bk07ch01.qxp 6/16/08 10:16 PM Page 611 611 Securing Your Hotspot Connections ✦ Use SSL (or HTTPS) Web sites: Don’t log in to accounts or services that require you to use a username and password, unless they’re secured with SSL (see earlier in this section for an explanation of SSL) and use an HTTPS address (note the S at the end of HTTP) — for example, Most Web browsers also display a pad- lock icon when a Web site is using SSL. Figure 1-4 shows an example of the padlock in Internet Explorer 7. Previous versions of Internet Explorer and other Web browsers, however, display their padlocks in the lower- right corner of the browser window. This technology encrypts the communications between your computer and the particular Web site. You can still visit unsecured (or non-SSL) Web sites; however, when you do so, all the Web page’s contents can be captured and viewed by others. This should be fine when you’re visiting nonsensitive Web sites. Padlock icon Book VII Chapter 1 Figure 1-4: SSL padlock indicator in Internet Explorer 7. 6/16/08 10:16 PM Page 612 612 Securing Your Hotspot Connections Protecting your computer Depending upon the equipment used at particular hotspot locations, con- necting to a hotspot can open your computer to being accessible to other hotspot users. For example, if you have set up folders to be shared, some hotspot solutions out there may not block user-to-user communication, making your shared files accessible to other hotspot users, just as they are for your home network. Regardless of the hotspot solution you use, you can safeguard your computer and personal documents in the following ways: ✦ Disable sharing: Before connecting to a Wi-Fi hotspot, you should disable the sharing of any files, folders, and services that you may not want others to view, use, or edit. Refer to Book IV, Chapter 3 for step-by- step directions on checking for and disabling shared resources. Turning off sharing while you’re away from home and then reactivating it for your home network is easy, after you get the hang of it, so I urge you to get in the habit of doing it. It’s an important aspect of safeguarding your computer. ✦ Use personal firewall software: When connecting to hotspots — and even your home network — you should use personal firewall software. This software helps protect you from Internet intruders and hackers. Windows XP and Vista have built-in firewall utilities, accessible via the Control Panel. Or, if you prefer, you can use a third-party firewall application, such as ZoneAlarm ( or whatever is included with your antivirus software. (You do keep a regularly updated antivirus application running, right?) ✦ Keep your OS up-to-date: Make sure that your operating system (Windows, Mac, or any other) is up-to-date at all times so that you’re receiving patches for security holes and fixes for known issues. See Book II, Chapter 5 for information on how to update your operating system. Watching out for fake hotspots A technique used by some techy criminals is to set up a fake hotspot — sometimes referred to as an “evil-twin hotspot” — copying the look and feel of a real hotspot, and maybe even a specific hotspot provider’s brand. The intention is for people to connect to the hotspot and make a payment so that the criminals can capture the users’ credit card and personal information. This is known as a “man-in-the-middle” attack. You may find spotting these fakes difficult, but you do have several ways to check the legitimacy of a hotspot, as follows: Hotspots, Hot Zones, and Cities 41_275191-bk07ch01.qxp 6/16/08 10:16 PM Page 613 613 Sending E-Mail on Hotspots ✦ Make sure that payment pages are secure: If the hotspot requires pay- ment, the pages where you make payment and log in should be protected with SSL encryption; otherwise, you may be on a fake hotspot. A prop- erly secured Web page should use an HTTPS address (the S at the end signifies that it’s a secure site), and a padlock icon should be displayed in your Web browser. For examples, see Figure 1-4, shown previously. ✦ Check the SSL certificate: If the hotspot does require payment and its payment and login pages are secured with SSL, look at the SSL certificate details. You may find some clues as to the legitimacy of the hotspot. If the certificate contains any errors or problems, you shouldn’t use the hotspot. In Internet Explorer, you can check the SSL certificate details by double-clicking the padlock icon that appears on the right of the Address bar or in the lower-right corner of the browser. ✦ Check for signage: If you are suspicious of a hotspot, you can check for signs or with the staff at the location to see whether the establishment even has a hotspot. Sending E-Mail on Hotspots If you use POP3 e-mail accounts, you may find that some Wi-Fi hotspots — and even some ISPs, such as your home Internet connection — block the Book VII outgoing port(s) so that you can’t send any e-mail through your POP3 e-mail Chapter 1 server. This is a security measure put in place by the hotspot owner so that the owner’s Internet connections aren’t used to send spam messages. You have a few ways to get around this security feature: ✦ Use Web-based e-mail: Use a different account that’s Web-based, or find out whether your POP3 account provider offers Web-based access (that’s secured by SSL, of course). ✦ Use a redirector: You can use an SMTP port relay or redirector, such as the one offered by the JiWire Hotspot Helper ( hotspot-helper.htm). ✦ Try another port: You may have success with other outgoing e-mail ports, such as 2525 or 587, in place of the usual port 25. For help on making these changes, you can refer to the documentation and Help files of your e-mail client application or your POP3 account provider. 6/16/08 10:16 PM Page 614 614 Book VII: Wi-Fi Hotspots 6/16/08 10:17 PM Page 615 Chapter 2: Making Your Location a Wi-Fi Hotspot In This Chapter  Discovering what it takes to be a Wi-Fi hotspot owner  Deciding whether to provide free or fee-based wireless Internet access  Choosing a Wi-Fi hotspot solution  Setting up and configuring your hotspot: Things to remember  Promoting your Wi-Fi hotspot to attract more visitors and customers n addition to having a home network, you might benefit from setting Iup a Wi-Fi hotspot of your own — especially if you own a store or small business. Even if you don’t, think about any friends or family members who do — you might discover you have the passion to help them bring wireless Internet to their location. The following businesses and locations can serve as great Wi-Fi hotspot locations: ✦ Hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfast establishments, and vacation homes ✦ Cafés, coffee shops, and restaurants ✦ Bookstores and libraries ✦ Shopping centers and shipment stores ✦ Any establishment in a high tourist, travel, student, or business area In this chapter, you find out what’s involved in offering wireless Internet to the public. You also discover various types of hotspot solutions and how to set up a hotspot. Weighing the Benefits and Costs of Having a Wi-Fi Hotspot Before diving deeply into the hotspot world, you need to understand the benefits and costs of setting up and hosting a Wi-Fi hotspot. Though the benefits usually outweigh the costs, you should know what you’re getting 6/16/08 10:17 PM Page 616 616 Weighing the Benefits and Costs of Having a Wi-Fi Hotspot into. The next sections tell you a bit about what’s good and what’s not so good about hosting a hotspot. The benefits Following are some of the main points in favor of hosting a hotspot: ✦ Attracts more visitors: Being on the hotspot map — that is, being listed in online hotspot directories and having signs posted — can attract new visitors to your location. ✦ Pleases your current visitors: Perhaps you’ve had visitors inquiring about wireless Internet. Well, make them happy You’ll also be pleasing all the other visitors who haven’t asked but wished your location offered this. ✦ Creates a possible new revenue stream: If your business is in a high- traffic area for hotspot users (such as a bookstore, hotel, or tourist or traveler location) and you choose a fee-based solution, this venture may be a profitable one that can bring in extra revenue. ✦ Allows integration with your private network: Some hotspot solutions even have support for integrating a private network with the hotspot (using the same Internet connection), so your communications are secure. Having a separate connection for your private communications is more practical than using the public wireless connection if you plan to use the wireless Internet regularly for the business. Without a separate, encrypted wireless connection, you can’t share files between your busi- ness computers, and your communications can be intercepted. For a general overview of Wi-Fi hotspots, take a look at Chapter 1 of this minibook. What’ll it cost you? Of course, setting up and hosting a Wi-Fi hotspot has its disadvantages as well. Be sure to consider the following costs carefully: ✦ Your time: Remember that you’ll have to invest a good deal of time in picking a solution, setting it up, and supporting it. You may find that the time you invest is more costly than the price of the equipment. ✦ Money for hotspot equipment: The cost of hotspot solutions varies greatly and can be anywhere from 40 to 800 or more. Normally, pack- ages you purchase to offer free hotspot access are on the lower end of this range and for-fee services range at the higher end. Additionally, Your Location a Wi-Fi Hotspot 42_275191-bk07ch02.qxp 6/16/08 10:17 PM Page 617 617 Understanding What Makes Your Location a Wi-Fi Hotspot solutions that require more in-depth setup are cheaper compared to out- of-the-box hotspot equipment for hotspot gateways, which I discuss later in this chapter in the “Choosing Your Hotspot Hardware” section. ✦ Money for business-class Internet connection: You’ll probably have to set up a business-class Internet connection (DSL or cable), which usually costs 60 or more per month. An Internet service provider (ISP) usually doesn’t allow customers of the lower-cost connections (which are intended for residences) to share access or provide it to others. You should check with your ISP to make sure. Understanding What Makes Your Location a Wi-Fi Hotspot Wi-Fi hotspots generally are very similar to your home network. Many hotspots consist of a single hotspot gateway that is just like a wireless router used in homes, but with some extra features. Some of the extra features and functionalities that hotspots and gateways include are the following: ✦ Open (unsecured) access: Wi-Fi hotspots are meant to be open to the public, so hotspots are left unencrypted. You can find out more about the risks of using these unsecured public networks in the first chapter of Book VII this minibook. Chapter 2 ✦ Advertised access: Hotspots are advertised by signs at the locations and in hotspot directories, whereas the existence of home networks should be kept private. ✦ Captive portal: On some hotspots, after you connect to the Internet and open your Web browser, your regular home page appears and can start using the Internet as desired. However, many hotspots use a captive portal feature, which causes a splash, or portal, page to appear when you open your Web browser. This splash page doesn’t let you move on until you accept the terms of the service or make payment (or both). Figure 2-1 shows an example of a hotspot splash page. ✦ Account control: Some hotspots require user accounts, meaning that users must log in before they can get Internet access. These accounts can exist whether or not users are charged an access fee. ✦ Content filtering: Most hotspots filter or block certain traffic, such as access to adult Web sites and even outgoing e-mail through a POP3 e-mail account (to prevent spammers from sending messages). These content filtering features can make your hotspot much safer for the users, the other visitors in your location, and your business. 6/16/08 10:17 PM Page 618 618 Deciding Whether to Charge a Fee Figure 2-1: A hotspot splash page. Deciding Whether to Charge a Fee Here are several things for you to consider when making the decision on whether to give away free access or to charge people for using your hotspot: ✦ Check out the competition. Find out what your nearby competitors are doing. If the ones with hotspots provide free access, it’s probably best to do the same. If they charge for access, you can try that with your hotspot to see how much money you make. On the other hand, providing access for free when your competitors are charging can draw more business to your location. ✦ Fee-based solutions cost more. For-fee hotspot solutions usually cost more and require more time to set up because of the complexity of the system and third-party services required in order to accept payments. ✦ Free is usually the way to go. Going with a free hotspot is usually the best way to go unless you’re in a high-traffic location for hotspot users, such as a bookstore, hotel, or a location with a high number of tourists or travelers. (People using and carrying laptops are good signs.) If this description doesn’t fit your location, providing free access is probably the best bet. Your Location a Wi-Fi Hotspot 42_275191-bk07ch02.qxp 6/16/08 10:17 PM Page 619 619 Choosing Your Hotspot Hardware ✦ Beware of freeloaders. When giving free access, you open your hotspot to Wi-Fi freeloaders. Your intent in setting up free Internet access is to give your visitors and customers a service. However, neighbors might regularly use the wireless Internet, slowing everyone’s connection speeds in addition to getting a free service without being a “paid customer.” Choosing Your Hotspot Hardware Browsing the Web — using, for example md can reveal count- less hotspot hardware options and packages, either for self-installation and support or through a service provider. When sifting through your options, consider the following: ✦ Whether to offer the service to your visitors for free or for a fee: Discussed in the preceding section. ✦ Price (including any monthly or yearly fees): This can range from pur- chasing a hotspot gateway for 300 to 600 dollars with no strings attached to hotspot packages and services requiring a setup fee and an ongoing monthly fee. ✦ Additional hardware or software requirements: Make sure you under- stand whether you must use additional hardware (such as a computer Book VII that you must dedicate to the setup) or software with the hotspot Chapter 2 setups you find. ✦ Time involved for setup: Whether you set up and install the hotspot yourself or go through a service provider, you need to understand how much time it will take to get the hotspot working and to support it. ✦ Type and availability of support: When sifting through your options, compare the type (telephone, e-mail, on-site) and availability (24 hours a day, seven days a week versus business days only) of support from the hotspot equipment or service provider. You have many different ways to create a hotspot, each with its advantages and disadvantages. For example, simply installing a wireless router such as what you have at home is cheap, but doesn’t offer the hotspot features discussed earlier. Alternatively, you can load special software on your home wireless router to offer the hotspot features; however, this approach requires much more time. Another way to go is to buy a piece of hardware (a hotspot gateway) specifically designed to offer public Internet; this approach, however, can cost several hundreds of dollars. Yet another way to go is through a service provider that supplies a package of preconfigured hardware and ongoing support, but that option also involves an ongoing fee. 6/16/08 10:17 PM Page 620 620 Choosing Your Hotspot Hardware Following are ways you can offer public wireless Internet: ✦ Using a simple wireless router: You can simply use a wireless router just like you would use at home (but without any security or encryption enabled) to give away free access. You don’t get the traditional hotspot features, such as captive portal or user accounts, so you can’t display any usage terms or collect payments. This solution, though, is cheap and requires minimal investment of your time. ✦ Taking advantage of the AnchorFree Hotspot Network: AnchorFree is the world’s largest free hotspot network. It offers free hotspot equip- ment and marketing materials (decals and signs) to location owners throughout the United States. The cost of the equipment is offset by advertising revenue generated from the hotspots. This solution provides everything you need to offer free wireless Internet, is the cheapest, and doesn’t require much time to set up. For more information, go to ✦ Using hotspot gateways: These devices are similar to wireless routers; however, they have been specifically designed for public hotspot solutions. Some gateways can handle user account, captive portal, and payment features without additional hardware or services; however, some require external servers (or hosted services) at an additional cost. Most hotspot gateways have compatible ticket printers. This lets you easily hand out passwords for the hotspot. For example, say that you want to give Internet access only to paying customers. You can restrict hotspot access to people with a password. When you want to give out access to the hotspot, click a button on the ticket printer to print a password, and give it to the customer to input into the hotspot login page. Some hotspot gateways may also have private ports so that you can easily integrate a private network securely. Following are examples of hotspot gateways: • SMC’s EliteConnect Wireless Hotspot Gateway (SMCWHSG44-G): • ValuePoint’s Wireless Controller 3000 (WC-3000):www. • Versa’s 802.11b/g Multifunction Hot Spot Subscriber/Gateway (VX- HG11G) • ZyXEL’s 802.11g Wireless Hot Spot Gateway (G-4100) • Nomadix’s Wireless Gateway (AG 2100) ✦ Open source (free) solutions: These solutions typically offer free software or firmware replacements for you to use with your own simple wireless router. Features such as captive portal and user account control, among Your Location a Wi-Fi Hotspot 42_275191-bk07ch02.qxp 6/16/08 10:17 PM Page 621 621 Choosing Your Hotspot Hardware others, are usually provided. This is a great way to set up a hotspot while keeping the cost down; be aware, however, that the setup and configuration require some patience and learning. Here are a few open source, firmware-based hotspot options you can look into: • ZoneCD ( Available for free hotspots only. • Less Networks ( Also available for free hotspots only. • DD-WRT ( Includes hotspot solutions for both types of hotspots: those offered to visitors for free and those that charge a fee for access. ✦ Hosted services: These types of solutions usually offer a hotspot man- agement system that let you log in to a Web site to manage the settings and user accounts of your hotspot(s). You configure your supported hotspot gateway (which includes using cheap wireless routers with firmware upgrades, mentioned in the preceding bullet) with the server information of the hosted service you choose. Then your hotspot gateway will be managed through the service and gain all the features offered by the service. This type of solution can also be cost effective, but usually requires a monthly or one-time fee. It offers very good fea- tures, including usage reports, ability to manage multiple locations, and Book VII payment collection. Here are a few companies you may want to check Chapter 2 into that offer hosted hotspot services: • Sputnik ( • WirelessOrbit ( • WHOTSPOT ( ✦ Turnkey solution providers: These companies offer prepackaged hotspot kits and customized hotspot installations. These solutions are relatively high priced (costing at least a few hundred dollars) and are best for high-traffic, fee-based hotspot locations that will definitely draw users. One advantage of going with one of these companies is that some operate under larger hotspot providers (such as Boingo Wireless). Being listed in their database can help draw even more people to your hotspot location. Here are a few turnkey solution providers: • SurfAndSip ( • NetNearU ( • ( • FatPort ( 6/16/08 10:17 PM Page 622 622 Configuring Your Hotspot Configuring Your Hotspot If you have chosen a solution specifically designed for hotspots, you likely have instructions to follow that will help you install and configure your hotspot. Otherwise, if you are “winging it”— by, for example, using a simple wireless router, as discussed in the previous section — you won’t have any direction on what to do. But help is here Just plug in your wireless router and make sure you follow the configuration tips given in this section, and you should be fine. Additionally, these tips can also help you if you’re implementing real hotspot solutions. Going through the important settings First, you should ensure that the important settings on your router or hotspot gateway are good to go. The following subsections take you through these steps. But first, you must connect and log in to your router: 1. Bring up your Web browser (Internet Explorer, Netscape, Firefox, or other). 2. Type the IP address of your router or gateway and press Enter. Keep in mind that some manufacturers may use a domain name (such as that looks like a Web site address instead of an IP address ( If you don’t know the IP address or the username or password, refer to Book V, Chapter 3 for help. 3. When prompted, enter the username and password. If you don’t know the default username and password, refer to Book V, Chapter 3. Change your network name (SSID) In order for your visitors and customers to identify your hotspot network, you need to change your router’s network name (SSID). To do so, follow these steps: 1. Click the Wireless tab (or other, similarly named tab containing the basic wireless settings). Some newer wireless products may offer wizards to help with wireless configuration; however, you should still be able to manually configure the wireless settings, which is needed to perform these steps. 2. Enter your own name in the Network Name (or SSID) field, as shown in Figure 2-2.

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