motel hotspot range question

When travelling and staying in motels with wireless hotspots, can I generally count on being able to connect to the internet from my room, regardless of location? Or, am I sometimes going to have to go to the lobby to go online?

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On Sat, 28 Apr 2007 12:25:00 -0500, "rb" wrote in :

Depends on the hotel/motel. Some have good coverage in all rooms. Others have spotty coverage.

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John Navas

Some offer NO coverage in the rooms (except the bleed through from the lobbies or other hot spots.

Reply to
Kurt Ullman

Thanks. Glad I asked this. I had a sneaky suspicion that in most cases I'd better be prepared to just go to the lobby.

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Or always request a room next to the lobby and then you can stay up all night surfing the net . It will be so noisy that you you won't be able sleep anyway.

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There are all kinds of exceptions. One Motel where I stayed had good service, but the signal was even better from the truck stop next door, and from the McDonald's across the streeet. Look for a motel in a busy commercial area. Very few motels who claim "in-room wi-fi" don't have it in every room. I also learned to take a cat5 cable.

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Bill Radio

The motel down the street has an AP in each room. 24AP's, each AP no more then 4meters from the next o_O

In hotels in malaysia, singapore, sydney, ect... i was able to hit the AP in the hotel over the road from my room but not the one 2 floors down... Naturaly coz of the clear path for the signal.


Reply to
Forster Tuncurry

"rb" hath wroth:

You can find out in advance by looking up the hotels on the internet and checking their web site, or using various hotel directories. At least that's the theory. I stayed at a hotel last summer where the wi-fi was totally useless, misconfigured, and did not cover the entire hotel, despite what their web site claimed. However, they also had ethernet in every room, which worked fine after I bought a cheap USB to ethernet adapter and cable.

There's also a strange thing called a "data port" on some hotel web sites. In most cases, it's genuine ethernet. In other cases, it's a dedicated dialup phone line, that goes through their switchboard PABX, that only dials some ISP. 20Kbits/sec on a good day but better than nothing. If their web pile says "data port", you'll need to ask what manner of "data port" they offer.

Motels are somewhat different from hotels, in that they're cheap. Really cheap. Cheaper than your worst imagination can conjure. If there's a way to cut corners, then the motel owner will do it. Wi-Fi and internet service is one of those things that doesn't generate direct revenue, but which they can't ignore. It's generally considered by owners as a waste of money and by managers as a waste of their time.

Be prepared for some rather minimal motel installations. I know of one local motel that has Wi-Fi in the managers office, which covers about half the rooms if you place the laptop in the window. The other half are covered from the laundry room, and only works if the laundry room door is propped open. I walk by this place on the way to lunch erratically and the door is almost always propped open.

Another local motel has apparently decided that a 2.4GHz power amplifier is the answer to their coverage problems. I can see their system in my palatial office, about 1500 ft away. Just one problem, I can't connect to their wireless unless I'm practically in their parking lot. Incidentally, this is called an "alligator" which is an animal with a big mouth (transmit) and small ears (receive). No clue on how well their one and only access point covers their rooms.

I have one motel customer. The manager will not call me when a customer complains. This is because the owner discovered that every time someone calls with a vague complaint, I arrive with a vague diagnosis and an invoice. So, only the owner is allowed to call me with a complaint. The problem is that the owner only visits the motel on weekends. To avoid having to pay my exorbitant weekend and holiday rate, he always calls Monday morning complaining that the internet has been down for a week. Cheap would be an understatement. However, there is hope. About 1/2 of the rooms now have a wired ethernet port which stays up and is working just fine if the manager remember to power cycle their cheapo router. Incidentally, I'm not surprised that the wi-fi is flaky at this location because the motel is line of sight to a large hotel converted into a college student dormitory.

Incidentally, there are two ways to do wired ethernet. The right way is with isolated network ports using a multi-port router. This isolates clients from each other so that users don't see each other (or attack each other). The wrong way is to plug everyone into one big ethernet switch, or series of small ethernet switches, where everyone can see everyone else on the system. The latter seems to be more common in motels. Make sure your laptops software firewall is functional.

I don't know if this is the typical or if I just happen to run into the worst case motels. I'm not much of a traveler and don't really have a good feel for how the rest of the worlds motels operate. Good luck.

Reply to
Jeff Liebermann

On Sun, 29 Apr 2007 09:17:16 -0700, Jeff Liebermann wrote in :

My experience is that most routers in hotels and motels _don't_ have isolated network ports.

Essential on _any_ network!

Reply to
John Navas

John Navas hath wroth:

Oh well, but I'm not suprised. Such high end switches were not cheap or easy to find. However, that's no longer the case. I'm bidding a Cisco 2960-24T or Express 500 (WS-CE500-24TT) switch:

which are overkill just to keep users from seeing each other. If I bid these switches at about $900 for the 2960 or about $600 for the Express 500, I'll probably end up being overpriced in the bidding. I know the 2960 will work, but I'm not so sure about the Express 500 switch.

Know of anything cheaper that offers port isolation?

Also, turn OFF UPnP. Make sure that "Print and File Sharing" is *NOT* checked under Firewall Exceptions. Etc...

Reply to
Jeff Liebermann

Carry a little wi-fi locator with you and check the joint out before registering..or get in your jalopy and drive around the motel until you can connect. I never fail to connect because I am ready for them..Take a good USB unit with you..Or else if you're a slow learner, there's always dial-up for you..WARNING many hotels/ motels are using NOMAD..Who wants to stay there??

Reply to
John Smith

There are few specific hotels that I've become intimate with over the years. (Inlcuding one of the employees, but thats a different story. LOL)

These locations are chain hotels and they just simply use consumer off-the-shelf junk. One AP per floor. They are just sitting in utility rooms at one of the far ends of the hallways. So, if you are on that end of the hallway, you are ok -- but if you are on the other end, it is weak. I always take a repeater with my in my laptop bag because often there are also really too many people on a single AP than it can handle. I let others go through my repeater. I don't care...

At one hotel (above), she gave me a key (which I had copied, LOL) to the utility rooms. I often use it to reset a locked up AP, grab some extra towels, "steal" some extra coffee or popcorn, etc..

Shhh. Don't tell. :-)

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On Sun, 29 Apr 2007 10:09:35 -0700, Jeff Liebermann wrote in :

As guesses (haven't used them myself), how about: ZyXEL ES-2024A


I personally think that UPnP can be useful, and that anti-UPnP is often overdone to the point of hysteria (notably the crap from self-proclaimed security wizard Chicken Little Steve Gibson). What's important is to keep current on security updates, and to disable features you don't actually need, not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Again, I think this issue borders on counterproductive hysteria. What's important is to either diasable sharing altogether, or to set strong passwords on any shares that might be needed.


Reply to
John Navas

Looks likely. Neither mentions port isolation. However, the FSM726 supports 64 static VLAN's, which will do the same thing when properly configured. The right way to do this is at the IP (layer 3) level, which the Cisco 2960 does nicely. I'll download the Zyxel and Netgear manuals and RTFM.

I'm on the fence. I've seen UPnP auto configure router port forwarding quite nicely. It's no big deal with one or two clients, but an office full of MSN Messenger users are a pain to configure. UPnP is the right answer. I've also read about some UPnP exploits which appear very functional. Unless the customer has a need for UPnP, I prefer to play it safe and turn it off.

I'll play ignorant. It's been my understanding that disabling the firewall exception prevents *ALL* access to file and print sharing. I just tried a quick test on a laptop. As soon as disabled the exception, my attempts to probe port 137-139(netbios) and 445(smb) failed. However, my sniffer shows that service advertisements are still being sent over the network. I suppose advertising a service that can't be used is a bit tacky, but I don't write the firewall rules. The ports are still open on the laptop, just inaccessible from the internet. I suppose you're right that it's safer to disable all sharing, but methinks this is good enough.

I had to deal with a situation where the user wanted network connectivity but not from the internet. That was easy enough by editing the Windoze firewall exception for "File and Print Sharing" and simply adding the "scope" required IP address ranges which did NOT include the internet gateway (router) IP address. This way, the shares were accessible from everywhere except the internet.

List of ports used by Windoze servers:

Reply to
Jeff Liebermann

On Mon, 30 Apr 2007 16:52:57 -0700, Jeff Liebermann wrote in :

ZyXEL does mention port isolation:

- Port Security and Port Isolation

It also has Port-based VLAN.


That was my thinking.

Reply to
John Navas

Sorry, I missed it. So much for my speed reading. Now reading the user guide:

Looks like port isolation and VLAN are one and the same. Zyxel has a nifty matrix diagram for setting which port can talk to which other ports (page 87). Looks like it will work just fine. Lots of other features which look really handy. Per port RADIUS authentication (with an external RADIUS server) and an SSH2 CLI login. 267 pages of docs to read. Ugh. $250 street price plus shipping. Cheap.

The Netgear FSM726 is about $220. It's lacking some features of the Zyxel model, but should work. However, the setup web page is crude compared to the nifty Zyxel matrix. I'll read some more on the Zyxel and probably use it in the bid.

Thanks much.

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