My wife has a small business that she wants to offer a free WiFi hotspot in. She suggested opening up our private 'net connection to the customers - T&Cs of our internet provider and thoughts of random people viewing kiddy porn floated through my mind.

So, first action will be to get a separate internet connection. But I have no experience of setting up a public WiFi connection. What considerations should I make with regards to:

  1. WAP
  2. Security
  3. Access logging?
  • 1
    The Terms & Conditions of your ISP may specifically prohibit sharing a "personal" IP drop at a public business. I'd read it carefully, and if in doubt, ask the ISP. You may have to pay more for the service, but they won't shut you down; advertising "free Wifi" may well attract the ISP's attention. – msw Apr 29 '10 at 17:53
  • Also bear in mind that in some jurisdictions, it's been ruled that people who allow public access via their internet connection are responsible for what happens on that connection. I'd advise against this strongly. Get a nice desk, some comfy chairs, and put a hub + patch cables beside/under it. It'll be simpler for users than registering with your non-public access, safer than public access, and will save a lot of implementation time. – Lee B Apr 29 '10 at 18:38
  • What state/country, Lee? What courts? What specific cases? – Warner Apr 30 '10 at 13:06

I wouldn't worry too much about allowing use of your Internet connection. I would recommend segregating your internal network and creating a DMZ, which is where the hotspot would live.

Another thing to consider is if your Internet connection is shared between the hotspot and your production processes (such as Point of Sale) rely on it, you might risk affecting them if someone to saturate the link. Implementing a Quality of Service (QoS) protocol could help eliminate the risk here.

If my two earlier points are outside of your technical ability, it might make more sense to dedicate an Internet connection as opposed to risking exposure of your point of sale system.

Another item of note is that commercial or shared use of your Internet connection is likely against the Terms of Service of most DSL and cable connections. This is something to be aware of in regards to how you utilize your existing Internet connection.

In regards to implementation, if I were to do it, I would probably leave it open. I see no issue with making it public and free. If you are looking to capitalize on it, you will probably have some usage management.

The quickest and easily solution would be to use a router running DD-WRT, which is something I've had incredible successful with. It also comes with some hotspot solutions, which would address some of your questions automatically as well as make implemention of QoS simpler.

All in all, you'd benefit from a Google search. There is already loads of information available on this topic.

Chillispot on DD-WRT


There are dedicated products out there for just this thing. Otherwise you could just pick up a cheap router load it with something like dd-wrt and use OpenDNS for site logging and blocking. You could even turn on QoS on the router and use the same line as you are for business. Unless you are expecting quite a few people getting on then I would say get a second line.

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