Wireless Access Point options

Hi all.

We intend to install commercial wireless access points for transient visitors to our community (ie, boaters).

What we are researching now is methods of access. We want to set it up so each customer can purchase online time (usually daily), provide payment, and connect with a minimum of fuss. Some of our sites are permanantly monitored (Wharfinger) while others are isolated and unmanned, working on the honour system.

Right now, the technical issues are minor compared with the business model. We are delaying selection of hardware until most of the issues are resolved. (: and by that time, maybe wireless-N will be finalized :)

I have seen a number of access point setup alternatives, but usually they are tied to a particular router.

Bear in mind that we aren't creating an open system, but one which we want to control access and also provide a reasonable level of security. When necessary, we can hook up to NetTeller or Visa processing.

In essence, we would like to find out what options are available for access point management, and how they are tied to particular hardare solutions.

Thanks for your help. Dar7yl

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On Sat, 24 Mar 2007 22:07:52 GMT, "dar7yl" wrote in :

To do it right, be prepared to spend more money then you think, and to spend more time on support than you think.

Then you'll want commercial-grade hotspot-type wireless routers.

That's usually the case.


Not much of an issue in your environment.

Or firmware; e.g,, DD-WRT.

See wikis below for an introduction. Then give serious thought to hiring real expertise to spec your system. Learn by doing isn't a good way to go.

Reply to
John Navas

"dar7yl" hath wroth:

The reason that boaters have money is that they don't like to spend it.

You might want to look at what commercial marina wireless operators are currently doing and using.

Huh? Sounds like the chicken and egg problem. Boater drifts into a new harbor and wants to connect via wireless. Just one problem. They have to register and pay online and they can't connect quite yet. You might want to look into a captive portal, where an unregistered user can only connect to the registration and payment page, and nothing else. The problem is security. You can't use encryption yet, because they don't have an account or encryption key. So, you have to use SSL or other form of web based security, which is potentially subject to man in the middle attacks and spoofed access points.

Exactly. The real problem is how much effort are you (and your accomplises) going to put into the system on behalf of the customers. When someone can't connect, or arrives with a laptop full of viruses and worms, what are *YOU* going to do.

802.11n will be finalized when hell freezes over and possibly later. The current guess is (insert drum roll):

October 2008. Don't hold your breath. Anyway, as John says, it's not part of your business plan or problem. You'll probably be dealing mostly with 802.11b and possibly 802.11g speeds.

Usually, they're INSIDE a particular router. All in one box is exceedingly popular because it's cheap. I'm partial to seperate access points, central router (i.e. wireless switch), offsite RADIUS server, and some redundancy.

I suggest you look at an overpriced, overkill, and overly complex solution first. That will give you an idea of what can be done if you had infinite resources. The idea is to not overlook anything. Then, decide how much of those features you really need and are willing to pay for. Then, find something within your budget that will do what you need. (Translation: figure out your requirements first, then pick your vendor and hardware). If you start at the bottom, you usually run into some missing part of the puzzle such as multiple SSID's, RADIUS authentication, logging, SNMP, monitoring, remote admin, ad nausium. The SNMP and monitoring aren't very useful for normal operation, but are invaluable for troubleshooting.

See my comments on the initial connection. You don't have any local security (i.e. encryption) before the user can signup and authorize. You'll probably need to do the payments with an unencrypted wireless link. That means you had better have your browser security in place. That works, but is subject to key loggers, man in the middle, spoofed access points, and the exploit de jour.

One access point or dozens? There's a difference. There are numerous products that offer wireless system management software. I know something about a few of these. The ones I deal with are SNMP based, but there are other methods. I think you need to nail down a few specifics before any sane recommendations for management systems can be made.

Meanwhile, I suggest you look at the following:

which might be close.

Reply to
Jeff Liebermann

On Sat, 24 Mar 2007 19:03:04 -0700, Jeff Liebermann wrote in :

Say what? Definition of "boat": A hole in the water, surrounded by fiberglass, into which you shovel money.

You'll find chaos and wildly uneven deployments, ranging from horrid (a fair number) to workable (most) to reasonably good (all too few).

Reply to
John Navas

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