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A typical hotspot deployment

This page is intended for you who want to start but don't know where.

If you are confident and feel ready - go directly to download.

We start from scratch, and assume you have "nothing".... and want to build a successful hotspot.

Covered areas

  • Internet Access
  • Router
  • Access Points
  • Access Controller
  • Other equipment
  • Putting the hardware together
  • Putting the networks together
  • Choosing SSID (WiFi Network name)
  • Quality of service
  • Pricing strategy

Internet Access

The first thing you need is internet access. In most places you can get internet access in at least one of the following ways:

  • Dial-up modem, exists in speeds from 32Kbps to 256 Kbps, we do NOT recommend you to use a dial up modem for a hotspot.
  • ADSL, with speeds ranging from 64 kbps to 20+ Mbps, we recommend to buy speeds of at least 512 kbps for a hotspot.
  • Cable, again speeds range from 64 kbps to 20+ Mbps, we recommend to buy speeds of at least 512 kbps for a hotspot.
  • Fibre optics, still only common in northern Europe and parts of south east asia, this is currently the best way to connect your hotspot, speeds range from 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps.
  • GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/WCDMA, or more popularly 2G, 2.5G, 3G or 3.5G, the download speeds are usually between 5 kbps up to 3 Mbps shared between all users in your "cell". This means that you rarely actually get the full speed. Additionally the uplinks are similar to those offered by a dial up modem. We would never recommend you to use a 3G wireless card to feed your internet hotspot, but in some cases it is the only available solution with "some band width".
  • WiMAX, speeds range from about 100 Kbps to peak rates at up to 15 Mbps at top speed rates. As the bandwidth is shared with everybody else in your sector (area), the variations will be large over time. It is fair assume an average bandwidth of 150 Kbps in an average area with 100 other subscribers in your sector.
  • LTE will deliver 5 to 20 Mbps in reality, with peak speeds much higher. This is a good choice for mobile hotspots.

Many different technologies - remember that the most important aspect is your total monthly cost and availability. A normal hotspot with a few users you can expect a bandwidth usage of 10 - 50 GB (Giga byte) per month.

Router

Normally your ISP (Internet Service Provider) will suggest routers that will suit your need. What is important choosing router for a hotspot is that it needs to support many concurrent users. Additionally you want a router that is "stable" that is that it doesn't require you to restart it now and then.

Avoid any router that is in second generation as it is the the first version where the manufacturer have tried lower he cost.

Access points

Access points have two basic requirements, "no service" and "adequate" coverage. The theoretical max speed is irrelevant. We have found an entire range of Linksys wireless routers and hotspots suffering from a problem where they hang at least once a week (Rumor says it is due to an overheating chipset). We have not verified if this is the case with the latest "Cisco branded" versions.

Our best experience is with Netgear WPN802, we have documented two different Access points where both were running for over 3 months without a restart. The longest documented non hanging AP we have documented is a Dlink 900AP+ which ran for 3 years without a restart.

Industrial Access point, will offer you much better MTBF (mean time between failures) - but will also cost more. Depending on your capacity to service a location, remote power switches can be very useful to "reboot" remote equipment.

Ethernet of power lines

We strongly recommend any hotel or venue that is more substantial in size to offer Ethernet over Power lines. The technology has become mature and work very well. Equipment from for example Netgear (there are other providers) require no configuration and are truly plug and play. Additionally it is a way to offer connectivity in parts of your facilities where it is hard to get WiFi coverage.

Access Controller

Always separate the Access Controller from the Access Point and router. This is for several reason but mainly:

  • Ability to add Access Points of any brand as you please
  • Simpler service of separate parts
  • Better performance

The hardware for the access controller should be simple and no complicated. Apart from being financially smart it is also recommended from an ecological point of view to re-use older computers.

A standard PC with 5- 10 GB IDE drives ( avoid SATA), preferably with a Pentium 2 or 3 processor and at least 128 Mb or RAM.

Other equipment

Stability of any network is to a large extent based on how "good" the electricity is in the location. Our experience show that by adding an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to your hotspot equipment, the number of service occasions are significantly reduced.

You don't need a grand "UPS" to keep the equipment going for hours as the role of the UPS is to deliver a smooth and precise power supply - not to carry the load over power cuts.

Putting the hardware together

These are the parts that constitute your ideal hotspot:

hardware

Connect as much as possible of your equipment to the UPS, even switches if required in your set-up.

Putting the network together

Above you can see the different components physically, they also need to be configured from a network perspective to actually function properly:

Automatic

In most cases almost almost every setting can be made automatic - and we recommend you to use automatic settings unless you for some reason absolutely need static settings.

Notice the following:

  • The private network (LAN) MUST have a different subnet (IP addresses) then the Public network - this is absolutely necessary.
  • The DHCP server in the router must be giving out correct information for the automatic set-up to function properly.
    • Validate that DNS, Network masks, Gateway IP etc are correct and function.
  • If your ISP is providing a slow or bad DNS, try using Open DNS (www.opendns.com)
    • DNS 1: 208.67.222.222
      DNS 2: 208.67.220.220

Choosing SSID

When choosing SSID most locations chose some variation of the name of their location or company name. We strongly recommend to avoid this naming policy in favor of a policy where you name the network InternetAccess or InternetAccess4U. The main reason behind this is that even big brand names are almost unknown to the general public.

Ready to go?

You can download our software and get started here.

You can read more about pricing strategies here.

If you want to read more about how to set-up a public network or a hotspot - read our get started guide.

If you have any questions Contact us!

To understand our system better you read about our vision and goals

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