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Hot hotspot gateways

Four products that deliver Wi-Fi guest access

By Eric Geier, Network World
April 01, 2013 06:01 AM ET

Network World - Offering Wi-Fi can be a good way to increase return customers and boost revenue in retail stores, hotels, cafes, etc. And it provides convenience for contractors and associates working in corporate offices and conference rooms. Though visitors might have 4G mobile devices or laptops, Wi-Fi can provide a faster, higher quality connection.

[SLIDESHOW: Hottest hot spot gateways]

We looked at four Wi-Fi hotspot solutions that can be used to offer guests and visitors wireless and wired access. Some offer free access, with the ability to make customers agree to your terms of service before Internet access is given by what it called a captive portal. Others support fee-based access where guests/visitors can purchase access time via their device or from a cashier using a ticket printer.

Here are the individual reviews:

Intellinet GuestGate MK II: Best for small deployments

The GuestGate MK II from Intellinet is an 802.11n hotspot gateway targeted towards smaller deployments, and available for as low as $140 from online retailers with a three-year manufacturer warranty. It features automatic segregation from the host or private network that it plugs into.

GuestGate provides a fully customizable captive portal, password-protected Internet access using global or up to 50 individual passwords or RADIUS authentication, and offers bandwidth controls.

We found the initial installation of the hotspot to be easy. Simply plug it anywhere on the host network and it starts offering segregated guest access. And for wired computers or additional access points, it offers four 10/100Mbps ports for guest access.

[ALSO: Big cable companies pooling Wi-Fi hotspot resources]

For increased security, you must access the web-based admin interface from the host network, which you access via the IP address it's been assigned. After accessing it, you'll see the Status tab, which shows the typical network and device details and statuses. It includes a list of guest clients, including their connection details and the ability to disconnect them.

On the Guest tab you'll find the guest network settings, where by default each guest is assigned to their own network/subnet so they can't connect to each other. Or optionally you can choose to have all guests on the same network.

You'll also find the wireless settings, which, unlike other routers or hotspot gateways, lacks auto channel selection and the ability to enable encryption. On this tab, you can also select the download and upload bandwidth limits and add trusted media access control addresses for devices you don't want to require authentication or acceptance when using the guest network. Plus here you can enable/disable the welcome captive portal, configure RADIUS authentication, or create global or individual access passwords.

On the Host tab you can configure the network settings for the host/private network connection, including OpenDNS support for content filtering on the guest network and Dynamic DNS using the DynDNS or DNS-O-Matic services.

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