Creating a Free Wi-Fi Hotspot

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by DSchwartz88, Jun 27, 2007.

  1. DSchwartz88 macrumors 6502

    May 18, 2006

    My father is opening up a cafe in a train station that is 95% of the time used to get into NYC from outer suburbs. He expects (according to the MTA) as around 1000 people in and out per day. Im sure it would drive the business up a little if there was a free Wifi hotspot within his cafe.

    Ok my first question is: What sort of setup would i be doing on the router to help support 200 - 300 people at a time using one router and internet connection?

    Second question: Since the cafe is near other buildings including residential areas i would like to keep the WiFi for customers only. However i dont want to go through the trouble of having patrons register their mac address. And my thoughts about WEP/WPA are that if you can get it within the shop then the neighbors will come by grab it and steal internet.

    What are your guys' thoughts on the situation, and what would i be able to do?

  2. Reflow macrumors 68000


    Mar 30, 2005
    What I would do is have WPA on the wireless and give the users passwords when they have want wireless. Then change it every day to keep unwanted users off your network. As for the brand well that depends on what you are willing to pay and support if you are going to be the one supporting it.. I've setup several outdoor and indoor wireless and there are a lot of brands out there to chose from..
  3. jalagl macrumors 6502a


    Jun 5, 2003
    Costa Rica
    What I think you need is to setup a system that prints out an access code that you can hand out to your customers so they can connect to the wireless network. When the users log in, they are redirected to a web page where they need to enter the code to get access to the internet. The access codes can be valid only for a specific period of time.

    You can find router and software solutions by searching for something like "hotspot network access control". There are plenty of solutions out there that meet your needs.
  4. DSchwartz88 thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 18, 2006
    Sorry i forgot to mention this in the previous post. The problem i have with using a daily wep key, is that most of the people coming through the cafe will be buisness people getting their coffe and would just want to check their e-mail or surf for 5 - 10 min while waiting for the train. So because of this it does not make any sense to have a daily wep key. However, what are everyones thoughts about a RADIUS so that each business person has a username and pass because after the intiial sign up peroid the laptop or pda (or iPhone) would be able to remember it
  5. dex22 macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2003
    Round Rock, TX
    My local coffee shop uses WPA, changes the code each morning, and prints it on the till receipt. How simple is that?

    That said, the implications of free wifi are that you'll get a lot of campers. These people sit around for hours nursing a cup of coffee and leech your bandwidth. What you need to do is calculate just how much space you can turn over to leechers. If, during busy periods, you have too many leeches stuck to your seats, this impacts your peak capacity and affects income.

    Also, you should reduce the transmit power of your access point so you can reliably connect from inside, but not reliably connect when you're 20 feet outside your door. Campers are an unsociable bunch, and tend to sit at 4-seat tables all by themselves. Arranging a long bench with lots of power sockets that just happens to be in a strong signal area out back would be called "prudent" by my coffee-shop-owning friend.

    It's very unlikely you'll need to support 200-300 simultaneous users. 5-25 users seems more realistic. Any consumer router can do that.

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