Running a WiFi Hotspot – A Guide to Hotspot Systems

What exactly WiFi Hotspot?

A Wireless Hotspot is an area that has WiFi gain access to the Internet. The word Hotspot is now used interchangeably for the both the area where the signal is available and the device (WiFi Router or WiFi Access Point) that is broadcasting the signal. Likewise the conditions “WiFi Router” and “WiFi Access Point” (AP) are often used interchangeably. ac1750 router

Straight forward Hotspot – The Start or Unencryped Router.

The easiest way to run a Hotspot is to acquire a domestic WiFi router, hook it up online and set the cellular security settings as “Disabled” or “Open”. This would allow one to gain access to the Internet and possibly also access other pcs linked to the router. You would have very little control of who connects and how much bandwidth is used. In the event that you have no security concerns and are certainly not looking at making any money this is a simple way to go. Price ~$50-100 

Simple Hotspot – The Encrypted Router with WPA or WEP

An additional option is to permit security on the router, there are two styles of WiFi security WEP and WPA – WPA is the newer plus more secure. With both types you specify a “key” the code you need to connect. You may inform your customers what the WPA or WEP key is and so they could hook up. This offers some security and I guess you could change the WPA or WEP key each day, however there is nothing to stop someone telling their friend the important thing so it’s not suitable for making revenue.

The Captive-Portal.

The majority of commercial Hotspots are Captive Portals, this shows up as an Open or Unencrypted WiFi signal but then redirects any traffic to a specific web page known as “Splash Page” where your often asked to login or purchase internet access. This is certainly a clever way of doing things as most laptops will automatically hook up to an open Wireless signal, then when a customer runs Internet Manager (or which ever Net browser they use) they are delivered to your sprinkle page whatever site they try to hook up to.

Walled Garden.

When speaking about Captive Portals the word “Walled Garden” is frequently used. This is a site or websites that a customer can hook up to without paying. For example a buyer connecting to your Killer spot will be diverted to the Splash Page. That they will then be given a choice of paying for access to the internet or accessing free websites you have chosen, for example your Motel website or local interesting attractions websites.

Hosted Hotspot Companies.

There are several companies offering business owners a hosted hotspot service. These types of services normally involve setting up a modified Linksys WRT54GL router on the customer premises that redirect traffic to a splash webpage hosted by the killer spot company. The hosting company normally also processes repayment for Internet access. These types of services normally work on an earnings sharing most basic where the hosting company pay the hotspot owner a portion of the income from the killer spot. Some companies also impose the hotspot owner a monthly cost for using their services.

DIY Attentive Portals.

If you avoid want to utilize a hosted hotspot solution there are many options for a DO-IT-YOURSELF Captive Portal. There are some commercial software plans that run on Home windows or Linux PCs and act as an attentive portal, with these the PC should be turned on 24 hours a day. Another approach is to run the Hotspot software on the WiFi router itself, replacing the stock firmware with a Cpanel based OS such as OpenWRT or DD-WRT. The challenge here is to slip the software required on the tiny amount of memory space on a domestic router.