WIFI – Hotspots

Ease of Use is a Feature
Hotspots use the custom paper writing service 802.11 open authentication method, meaning no authentication process at Layer 2 – at all. The customer’s client device (laptop, iPad, smartphone, etc.) joins the hotspot’s SSID, and is forwarded to the DHCP service, and the client device receives an IP address, default gateway and DNS. This, in its purest form, is hotspot connectivity.

At this point the client is now ready to access the Internet. One option is to just allow direct access. This is the easiest of all systems. It causes no difficulty with devices, because there is no user interaction.

However, most hotspot providers opt for a captive portal solution – whereby any attempt by the client device to either load a browser-based Internet session, check e-mail, etc., will all be redirected to an HTTP web page. By capturing all possible outbound ports, the customer’s experience is changed from what they would get at home.

On this captive portal page, the customer can choose to accept the terms of service, and/or pay for Internet usage. The use of a captive portal makes accessing the Internet via a hotspot quite difficult for devices that do not have native web browsing capabilities. The more “hoops” a customer has to go through, the lower their valuation of the hotspot service.

Bandwidth/Throughput
The next feature that is on the top of customer’s mind is the actual throughput of the connection. If Internet access is slow or inconsistent, customer complaints rise.  Gone are the days when a 100-bed hotel could utilize a single T-1 line (1.5MBs) being shared between all the guests.

With the advent of streaming audio and video services – like Spotify, Pandora, Hulu and Netflix – users expectations of throughput have increased faster than most hotspot providers have increased bandwidth. A business can have the best Wi-Fi system available, with fantastic data-rates going over the RF medium, but without an adequately sized backhaul, end users will still complain.

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