Public Internet Access
Guest access with additional requirements
One special form of guest access is the hotspot with more or less public access to the Internet, which is generally a Wi-Fi connection. Users can take advantage of this to access the Internet in airports, train stations, hotels, restaurants, hospitals, and other places with their own Wi-Fi device, be it a notebook, PDA, or IP-compatible cell phone. Whether this is free of charge or for a fee is up to the provider, who also makes decisions about the available services, including VoIP.
The hotspot fulfills two functions from a technical perspective. It offers a wireless interface in the form of an access point for multiple users and assumes responsibility for bundling and connecting to the Internet backbone. For the user it is irrelevant whether this connection is made with a cable or an additional wireless connection, or how many additional switching points are involved. Routing is handled by the provider’s infrastructure. In the process the IP addresses the user has at work or home are not used, rather the provider’s router assigns its own locally, which are converted to public IP addresses, for example, using NAT (Network Address Translation).
Because the conversion resembles anonymization in the eyes of the Internet, additional functions are required. Legislation requires correlation of IP sessions to specific people (that is, data preservation and joint liability for the operator). The provider would like to make its hotspot services billable, but would like and must be able to ascertain at the very least that only authorized access is occurring. The user, on the other hand, expects that the access code he is given is protected from other participants. If access needs to be paid for, fees should only occur for actual connection time and other people should not be able to have access.
For all of these reasons, the hotspot must assume the tasks of authentication, user activation, and administration of the user account either completely by itself or forwarded to the hotspot provider as a relay station.
For this purpose, the hotspot device includes functions such as the captive portal, which transfers users automatically to an authentication page when they are trying to access the Internet. Here they can sign on with their account data and then access the desired website as they normally would.
Depending on the provider, the hotspot function must be able to offer online payment options such as IPass or Boingo, or employ a ticket system for which the local provider assumes responsibility for administration.
To separate hotspot users from each other, direct communication between clients connected to the access point – which is otherwise a possibility – needs to be prohibited. For this the device needs to be implemented with a walled garden.
If the hotspot operator wants to use the system for other networks, for example, to make several providers available on the same hardware or to process its own internal services (mobile visits at a hospital, cleaning service in the hotel, Voice-over-WiFi, etc.) it will be necessary to support with virtual networks, perhaps Quality of Service or a WMM implementation.
If roaming is to be enabled for internal users across different locations, central administration, authentication, and accounting functions will all need to be added.
We offer optimized solutions for all these different applications. These include independent access points, solutions for larger locations, connections in stores, and the networking of hot zones, which are areas in which several operators pool together.
Naturally, wired areas can also be integrated, such as hotspots without Wi-Fi.
Whether you are a smaller operator, regional provider, or an international business, please feel free to contact us. We are happy to show you what a hotspot can offer, including its return on investment. We are certain that you will be amazed.
p.s.: Aeroaccess is a provider listed with WiFi-Zone®.