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Review Wi-Fi Hotspots: Setting Up Public Wireless Internet Access

Discussion in 'Articles, Reviews and Interviews' started by tripwire45, Nov 21, 2006.

  1. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Book Review: Wi-Fi Hotspots: Setting Up Public Wireless Internet Access

    Author: Eric Geier
    Format: Paperback: 264 pages
    Publisher: Cisco Press; Bk&CD-Rom edition (October 10, 2006)
    ISBN: 1587052660

    Review by James Pyles
    November 21, 2006

    Ever want to set up your own wireless hot spot? Eric Geier's new book professes to teach you how...the Cisco way. According to the introduction, this book is equally useful to the IT Professional or the average computer user who wants to construct a wi-fi accessable environment. This was the first Cisco Press book I'd seen that wasn't heavily laden with a large number of arcane acronyms such as OSPF, IGRP and BGP. I wanted to see if it met the standards for clear writing and accuracy I'd come to expect from this publisher.

    The first thing Geier does is provide the reader with an elementary education in wi-fi hotspots, defining a hotspot, describing independent vs. hotspot networks, how to find a hotspot and how wi-fi works. I found that the book is definitely in the business of selling wi-fi to business. Anyone owning or managing a coffee shop, motel, or bookstore and wants to create their own hotspot is the target of this book.

    "Wi-Fi Hotspots" provides the reader with all of the information they'll need to setup several different types of hotspot solutions. I was a little surprised that installation times were listed as from 1 to 3 hours. While I doubt a wireless guru would need very much time to setup a hotspot, the wireless newbie may encounter some problems that will toss those time estimates right out the window.

    As I made my way through the book, I discovered that it provides the "nuts and bolts" of setting up different hotspot types in simple, straightforward steps using well known Linksys equipment (of course) and in some solutions, ZoneCD software (which is included on the accompanying CD). I was pleased to see a "How to get help" section was provided since undoubtedly, no matter how well the book is written, some reader will hit a snag or two and will need help.

    Continuing to read, I was pleasantly surprised to see references to other wireless hardware vendors such as D-Link. While there's nothing wrong with Cisco marketing their own equipment through this book, it's not always reasonable to assume that everyone is going to exclusively use Linksys wireless routers and NICs when they build and maintain their hotspot. I was glad to see that the author and publisher included these references.

    Advertising tips, setting up security, and troubleshooting information are all included in this book. There are also chapters on routine maintanence and how to expand coverage by using antennas or adding access points. Examples are all "real world" such as setting up a hotspot at a motel or for use by business conference rooms. The book uses Windows XP exclusively as the operating system for the PC examples but I guess you can't have everything.

    Somewhat more "advanced" material is included in the appendix regarding how to understand wi-fi signals but the average business owner probably will not be as interested in this material as someone wanting to know more about Wi-Fi in general.

    By the time I came to the end of the book, I felt reasonably sure that I could use "Wi-Fi Hotspots: Setting Up Public Wireless Internet Access" as a guide for setting up a hotspot if I so desired. However, while I think the book speaks volumes to business owners who want to take advantage of a wi-fi hotspot solution, Most IT Professionals might find the book's content a bit light. Although Geier's stated target audience ranges from the technical newbie to the experienced networking professional, I don't think it casts quite that wide a net. That was the only issue I had with Geier's book, though. "Wi-Fi Hotspots" is absolutely great material for folks who want a no-nonsense guide to setting up their own hotspot.
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  2. zebulebu

    zebulebu Terabyte Poster

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    I've actually been thinking of setting up a Wireless hotspot in my neighbourhood.

    This book might be a really good resource - cheers Trip!
     
    Certifications: A few
    WIP: None - f*** 'em
  3. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Keep in mind that using your Internet connection as a shared service for your neighborhood might be a violation of your ISP's Terms of Service. In addition, since you are paying for the service, you are also responsible if any illegal activity occurs by people using the connection. Just things to keep in mind so that you don't inadvertently lose your service. Be sure that all is cool with your ISP before proceeding.
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  4. tripwire45
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    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Another side of it is that if all your neighbors start piggybacking on your signal, throughput is going to slow to a crawl...that is unless you have a partial or full T1 line. :wink:
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  5. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Even with a T1 line, it can slow to a crawl. Cable service in Nashville is somewhere between 6 and 8 Mbps down, which is far faster than a 1.5 Mbps T1 can handle. The upstream speed will suffer, though, as I think cable service here only provides 512 to 768 Kbps up, about 1/2 to 1/3 the upstream speed of a T1. Upstream speed will especially suffer if someone is illegally streaming media or serving files.
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  6. Bluerinse
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    Bluerinse Exabyte Poster

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    Another interesting review James and some good points made in response.

    On a more personal note, I have just heard from my ISP (BigPond) today that I can upgrade my connection from 512/128 to 1500/256 for the same money $69.95AU/mnth, starting Dec 1, so I am all excited :D Australia are dragging their heals with affordable high speed Internet connectivity but we will get there eventually. Even the odd hot spot's are appearing on the Gold Coast, oh my what next, hmmm maybe a P4 :p
     
    Certifications: C&G Electronics - MCSA (W2K) MCSE (W2K)
  7. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    If it's not a C2D, it's crr-r-r-r-r-r-rap! :biggrin
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  8. Bluerinse
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    Bluerinse Exabyte Poster

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    It will be, just waiting for Vista, so that I can also convince the misses we need a decent vid card that supports aero etc. :wink:
     
    Certifications: C&G Electronics - MCSA (W2K) MCSE (W2K)
  9. BosonMichael
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    Get the beta and convince her early! :wink: heheheheh
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  10. bobsumowrestler

    bobsumowrestler New Member

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    Hello!

    My first post, so I thought I'd offer some advise after setting up my own hotspots.

    We decided to use PolkaSpots Wireless Hotspots, (www.polkaspots.com) as they have a number of decent packages and even a white label fully managed hotspot scheme.

    They use Pronto Networks as their back end software provider, and therefore their system is pretty rugged.

    On the white label scheme, they provide you with a hotspot controller (effectively an intelligent access point). When connected to a broadband connection, it calls home and downloads it's configs.

    The most impressive part of the service is that you get your own login to monitor your locations realtime and make remote changes without having to remember / sort a static ip address.

    In most of our deployments, we just plug the box in to the cafes / hotels / bars connection and off we go. The end user gets branded login screens according to either what we want or what I decide! There's walled garden access and service level agreements, so you can cap each user depending on what they're doing. The system also locks down virus infected / spammers to preserve bandwidth.

    In one deployment, we had to create a separate vlan for security reasons, but this was pretty simple to do.

    Hope this helps!

    Bob
     

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