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Monday, March 7, 2011

How To Set Up Your Own Free Wifi Hotspot With DD-WRT

set up wi-fi hotspotFor those of you who don’t know, DD-WRT is an open-source replacement firmware for household Internet routers that greatly enhances their functionality as well as providing increased performance. Though I was initially daunted by the sheer range of additional options that the DD-WRT firmware provides, I’m pleased to report there is a hell of a lot of great features in there that you’re simply missing out on with standard router software.
Last week, I talked about how you can tell if someone is stealing your Wifi – but today I’d like to show you how to let others share your Internet – with a Wifi Hotspot. Setting up a public Wifi Hotspot is great for small businesses who want to attract or offer additional value for customers, but you might also want to try it in your neighbourhood if you have a particular product or service to advertise.

In the set up we will look at today, the first page users will see is a page with banner advertising and a little about your company or service, as well as usage terms – once they click “agree”, they can use the Internet.

What You Will Need:

DD-WRT Flashed Router

A DD-WRT flashed router is the basis of this and any future DD-WRT tutorials. If your router is compatible, generally you can download the appropriate version and simply upload through the web interface. There is a long list of compatible routers and instructions in the DD-WRT wiki, but we cannot cover installation procedures here due to the sheer variety. Bear in mind that different routers have different levels of compatibility, and some features will not be available on your router if it cannot handle the full DD-WRT firmware install due to memory limitations.
If you do decide to go forward with DD-WRT and explore the other features it can offer you, it’s best to buy a new one that you know is fully compatible. I purchased a high power 802.11n router that was listed as 100% compatible with easy installation for around $150.

A Free Authentication Provider Account

In addition to configuring your DD-WRT router, you need to have some kind of user authentication system. Today we will be using a service called HotSpot System, which you can use for free to manage a basic free Wifi Hotspot with your own customized landing page.

Twitter Account

Since HotSpot System is offering a free service, they do ask for a little self-promotion. For this you need to follow their Twitter account, and tweet about their service. Feel free to make a new Twitter account just for this purpose.

Getting Started: HotSpotSystem

Though there are a few different providers you can use to manage the user authentication side of things, I’ve picked out HotSpotSystem as it’s fairly user friendly and setup is built into the router firmware. They offer a range of plans depending on what your HotSpot requirements are, but a basic free Wifi Hotspot with splash page is free. Paid plans allow you to charge users for access, or print special coupons for paying customers. Next time I will show you a free service that allows you to charge for access, but let’s concentrate on a free hotspot with splash page today.


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