Wireless Networking in My Business

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by mooshoo, Sep 14, 2004.

  1. mooshoo macrumors regular

    Apr 14, 2004
    Not sure this belongs here:

    I am about to open my own café/upscale take-out eatery here in Vancouver, and I want to create a wireless network for my customers to use. The space just got a cable modem installed. At home I use a cable modem, linked to AEBS.

    I'm wondering if I can use this exact same setup? I'm not worried about "network security", because this is a free service that I want to provide to my customers. Therefore, there wouldn't be any passwords. I guess my question is, would the service provider shut down the service if they find out that I'm transmitting to the public (in my cafè that is)? I just can't see the logic of paying someone to install a big ol network, and then paying them again to provide service.

    I know Starbucks and a few other retail outlets now offer Internet access, but you hav to pay to use it. I just want my customers to come in, and get a nice suprise when they open their laptops (assuming they have wifi)...
  2. strider42 macrumors 65816


    Feb 1, 2002
    Starbucks and the like probably run big old T1 lines to get adequate speeds for users. just running off of a cable modem will not allow for a lot of speed if a lot of people connect.

    And I'm pretty sure your ISP will notice that much web traffic. And I'm pretty positive they will frown on a business doing this much, much more than a home user. If its for business use, you'll want to make sure you aren't doing anything that can get your business or you sued or service cutoff. Its just not worth it. talk to your ISP and run the idea by them to see what they may be able to offer you, preferably using your own equipment since it would be cheaper. You don't have to commit to anythign right away, but it doesn't hurt to ask the question and read all of the EULA of your internet service.
  3. ChrisFromCanada macrumors 65816


    May 3, 2004
    Hamilton, Ontario (CANADA)
    I dont think you will be sued or anything but if you exceed your bandwidth limit then you could get knocked with some nasty fees. I agree, check with you ISP about your bandwidth. You will need more than 25Gb per month but probably more like 35-50 Gb per month. As for speed if you are most likely going to have 5 users or less at a time you should be fine on a relitavely high speed cable connection.
  4. superbovine macrumors 68030


    Nov 7, 2003
    Well if you just have an open network, the security problem comes with you have your business computers on the same network which exposes them to attack by people. DLink sells a device just for what you need, if you have this problem.


    They also sell a ticket printing system.

    Anyways that should be your one of the only security concern, for you personal computer's on the network. Most people don't want their computer with their business data availble for people to try and hack. The other security concern is, if you are in a high urban area with apartments or homes near by, you might have people leaching via external antennas from your basestation 24/7. The easy work around is cut off access at the end of the business day.

    This is just a good read, so you know all the problems that come with wifi, but in your situation it doesn't apply.

  5. JeDiBoYTJ macrumors 6502a


    Jun 22, 2004
    Ft. Lauderdale, FL
    The problem I see with that, is that since your leaving it WIDE open, anyone, including people who are NOT your customers, have access to the internet. Leaving it open like that also leads to problems with illegal files and such. people can now easily log into your network and start downloading all kinds of illegal items, like copywritten songs, movies and programs. which then, if a big company like the RIAA or MPAA sends a letter to your ISP, you will probably be in some big trouble.

    If you still plan on leaving it wide open, at least look into finding a way to restrict access to certain websites. most routers have that ability. a firewall is also a good suggestion here.

    not meaning to rain on your parade/idea. its a grand idea, and I would love to walk into your shop, open my powerbook, and check my email for free. I'm just afraid for you that people might abuse that privilege
  6. BrianKonarsMac macrumors 65816

    Apr 28, 2004
    you will be fine. personally i'd place a simple password on it, just to control unwanted use of bandwidth, however it's not really necessary, because your connection won't reach very far (without distributors) and in a business district....i'm pretty sure everyone who owns a laptop with wireless capabilities also has their own wireless connection. at distance/through walls the transfer rate decays so they won't be achieving a satisfactory connection. go for it, wireless is like a breath of fresh air :D.
  7. mooshoo thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 14, 2004
    Thanks for all the input people. Keep them coming!

    In regards to security of the network, I'm not too worried because I'm not really accessing it myself with anything confidential. All my business related material (ie, finances, contacts, etc.) are stored on my PB, which already has a firewall installed, and doesn't connect to a wifi network unless I manually accept it. Plus, there really is nothing to attack. I mean, it's just a wifi network. In that aspect, I think the security issue is okay. I will, however, have a customer disclaimer stating that we are not responsible for any issues/problems arising from the use of our network.

    I like the idea of having a simple passkey, and giving it to the customers if they ask about access. I will also definitely turn it off at night.

    There definitely seems a lot more to this though, I'm beginning to realize. The thing about exceeding bandwidth never even occured to me. I thought they would mention something important like that the customers though, but I haven't seen any literature about it.

    I'm gonna keep my fingers crossed!
  8. garybUK Guest


    Jun 3, 2002
    Are there any ISP providing this service in your area? Over here BT (British Telecom) Openzone provide wireless acess through shops like McDonnalds, Motorway Service Stations, Town Centers and the such like. See if a local one want to re-sell their service through your shop.

    If you get a business broadband package and make sure that ports other than 80 (HTTP), 53 (DNS), email ports 25 (SMTP) and 114 (IMAP) are closed outbound then no one can use P2P software or download via FTP and you are sorted.

    If you get a really cheap PC with Linux & SQUID Firewall, this will cache mostly used web pages so when a customer accesses the webpage, it caches it, so the next person to access it gets the copy off the proxy server and not via the internet, this can cut your bandwidth usage by 1/2 in some cases! (This can be setup transparantly so the user doesn't need to set anything in the browser)
  9. superbovine macrumors 68030


    Nov 7, 2003
    If they never told you, you probably have unlimited access. It wouldn't hurt to check. My guess is you got the basic package similar to what any home user would get.

    Since you going to have your PowerBook on the same network, be aware that people at your cafe can "sniff" packets an extracted non-encrypted information. Translation: There are programs that can look at the data that is being tossed up in the air by wifi devices and look at the raw information. For example, you check your POP or IMAP email account provided by your ISP. In most cases someone will able to extract your email username/password, and see any email you read while they are on the same network. Using a free web-based email is a good solution though. by default hotmail and gmail encrypted your login/password, however yahoo you have to click on the secure icon. This however does not encrypt your email content itself. This problems also extends to your web surfing, instant messaging etc. I am not trying to scare anybody, because the chances are remote that someone would actually care to spy on people at a coffee shop. There are plenty of people that don't have a life though.

    from my previous post:

    This device stops this. everything on the private port will be secure within that private network i.e. someone on the private side could sniff you as well. the patrons of your cafe will be in the wild though. Someone throw out having a password, which isn't a bad idea. Perhaps you could print the 'password of the day' on the receipt to encourage a purchase. that might more trouble than its worth though.

    I would also suggest, you find some tutorials for both Mac and PC on how to setup a wifi connection on each, and have them edited for your wifi specs and printed out.

    Here are some tools you should have:
  10. mstecker macrumors 6502

    Jul 16, 2002
    I beg to differ

    I disagree with all of the posters who worry about "security" and non-customers using your bandwidth. Just let it be free. I leave open two wireless access points (on a discrete NAT network so that they don't see my real internal network) for the benefit of my neighbors and passers-by. Could someone park a van in front of my house and start downloading kiddie porn? Absolutely - but I'd be able to demonstrate in short order that I'd be no more responsible for this than my upstream ISP or their upstream ISP.

    Walk around New York City these days, and you can find an open access point about 80% of the time in lower manhattan.

    Information wants to be free.
  11. superbovine macrumors 68030


    Nov 7, 2003
    If mooshoo is paying for metered bandwidth, he has every reason for him to place some way to control his bandwidth consider it is a business.
  12. mstecker macrumors 6502

    Jul 16, 2002
    That's assuming it's metered bandwidth. Most cable modems aren't.
  13. emw macrumors G4


    Aug 2, 2004
    The D-Link device that superbovine recommends is a good idea, but you may be able to duplicate that setup less expensively by purchasing a wireless router and a wired router and simply setting up a subnet that prevents the wireless patrons from seeing anything on the wired side. It's not difficult to do, and would only cost about $100, vs. about $500 for the D-Link. Either way, the concept is sound. Regardless of how much you think your personal stuff is uninteresting, someone else may not agree with you.

    Also, make sure you change the default passwords on any router you purchase to make sure that others can't get in and change settings - make it something difficult to guess (because people will try) and change it regularly.

    As for others getting to your network, I suppose it depends on the size of your business, but if you've got a reasonably sized building, the reception is going to be pretty poor outside the doors of your operation. In any case, if you've taken steps to secure your private data appropriately, then I wouldn't concern myself so much with that if you've got unlimited use.

    But I would shut off wireless access during non-business hours.
  14. jeremy.king macrumors 603


    Jul 23, 2002
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    I would look into something like this.

    You can still offer the access for free to your patrons, but this device allows you to manage your wireless network more than a basic home router.

  15. earthtoandy macrumors 6502

    Jan 18, 2003
    good freakin luck.

    i work in a coffee shop with a free wireless setup. and in over a year of dealing with it let me offer my wisdom.

    1. Having it open without passwords of logging on is a great idea...there goes half the headache
    2. Are you sure you arent worried about security? If your other computers use this connection as well then you will be subject to all the mess of things the customers get their selves in to. Think about that. Also at first our security was worse than it is now and people were using the network as a p2p download system for themselves. sneaky bastards
    3. put the router in a very reachable location because no matter what the brand you will have to reset it rather often.
    4. Cable might not be good enough. Lots of users will bog it down. but i also dont think there is a problem having it on a wide open wifi network. its none of the providers business really. we have a business dsl line and it works well...when it works. You can also get t1 boxes and such...they arent TOO expensive
    5. Having the place hardwired as a back up isnt a bad idea either. when our wireless refuses to work many people use a lan line.
  16. sgarringer macrumors regular

    Jul 15, 2004
    Cedar Rapids, IA
    best advice i've seen on macrumors in quite awhile
  17. mooshoo thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 14, 2004
    1. The open network should solve the issue of having to deal with complicated WEP/passkeys.
    2. My PB only connects to the network when I allow it to. In addition, I do have a firewall/anti-virus program installed for protection. However, I am seriously looking into the use of creating a false subnet for myself as an extra layer of protection.
    3. The router itself will be located next to the POS/Fax/Phone.
    4. Cable is about the only option I have here, besides getting a full-blown T1. Cost is another issue. As much as I love free internet, I am still paying for this out-of-pocket for the enjoyment of my customers. We have a business account.
    5. Having a hardwire would almost defeat the purpose of wireless, for me at least :) . I don't want wires running around all over the place, hubs or not.

    Honestly, I'm not too sure what to expect in terms of traffic flow. I just moved here to Vancouver, BC. It seems like the people are very cosmopolitan and tech-oriented, but I don't know how they would use my services. The space that I have is only about 800 sqft, with about 600 allotted to the customer space. So, worst case scenario there might be 10 users at the most at the same time. Or there could be only 5. It's hard to tell. I'm also looking at the possibility of NOT offering it for free, and instead contract a company such as FATPORT to provide wifi coverage. But that will cost, which defeats my thing for free access.

    In terms of people using it for P2P stuff...I think having a disclaimer statement should cover that part. It would say somthing like "we will not be responsible for for whatever issues/problems arising from the use of our FREE wifi".

  18. grapes911 Moderator emeritus


    Jul 28, 2003
    Citizens Bank Park
    Most routers allow you to adjust the range of you wireless. I'd adjust it so that your whole place gets wireless and no more. That way you don't have to worry too much about people outside useing your internet.
  19. earthtoandy macrumors 6502

    Jan 18, 2003
    yeah, dont feel too confident in that firewall and virus protection. they are basically weakest line of defense.... a last ditch effort. Trust me we have all sorts of security measure including those you are mentioning and still have some probs. Do your registers use windows? or are they strictly registers...no os or internet connection?

    just research everything very well... one problem we had was the system wasnt too compatible with macs early on... this is a problem because 40% if not more of the laptops i see are macs.

    i understand the wired thing... our place was remodeled to specs and had wires routed well... it is a great back up system though. no one uses the wall outlets unless the wireless is down.

    there are companies out there who will research the best system for you based on needs and suggest a plan of attack. they are non partisan when it comes to hardware and dont actually install it, and you dont buy from them they just suggest it and you can take it from there... worth looking in to.

    take your time! you dont want the worry free wireless to become one of the headaches of youyr business. Trust me, people will complain about the wireless more than anything else so make sure it works consistently!

    but bravo to you... your business will do SO much better by having this access. keep it free if you can...its MUCH better. People will come to you based on this.

    in terms of traffic... we are a coffee shop with a big student population (right down the street from Arizona State and a community college with a 25000 student base) and at our busiest time we probably have around 10-15 people on consistently.

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