Tag: wireless hotspots

Public phone booths becoming public Wi-Fi hotspots


Telstra public phone booth

One of the public phone booths that is becoming a wireless hotspot

150 free Telstra Wi-Fi hotspots go live today | PC World

Pay Phones in New York City Will Become Free Wi-Fi Hot Spots | New York Times

My Comments

Increasingly public payphones are becoming more irrelevant in today’s mobile-phone society, simply serving as access to telephony for those who can’t get a mobile phone service or as a failover solution if your mobile phone’s battery dies or you run out of uesable credit on a prepaid mobile-telephony service. Other than that, they become a shelter from a sudden downpour or to talk quietly with one another or “fix oneself up quickly”. They are even mentioned in that Men At Work song “Touching The Untouchables” (Spotify link) as a quiet space for the homeless – “Spend My Nights In The Telephone Booth / I Make Sure I Leave The Phone Off The Hook”.

These are being seen as a waste of money for incumbent telcos or cities who are charged with maintaining these payphones. But incumbent telcos like Telstra are charged with having to provide these phones as part of providing the universal telephony service.

What is happening now is that Telstra and the City Of New York are integrating Wi-FI hotspot finctionality in to the phone booths. Telstra, as Australia’s incumbent telecommunications provider responsible for the universal telephone service, is adding this functionality to its phone booths which have the fully-functional public payphones while the City of New York is replacing existing phone booths with the hotspots. These will offer an IP-based speakerphone function to allow calls across the USA as well as a charging station for smartphones that run out of juice. Their cost will be covered by outdoor advertising that is attached to these booths.

One group that these services will benefit are those of us who are on mean mobile data plans and have to use the public-access Wi-Fi with our smartphones or other mobile devices to apply for a job through an online form or find out material online. With some of us, we have to use Skype or Viber VoIP services to make free calls between correspondents who have the same service on our phones to save money.

This could be seen as a way to help establish a universal Internet service especially if the service provider is involved with using the public payphones as part of their commitment to the universal telephone service.

The French campground and caravan park scene is now switched on in new ways

Article (French language / Langue Française)

La fibre optique et la domotique débarquent dans les campings | DegroupNews

My Comments

Travelling is now becoming more of a connected affair with Internet connectivity being considered a valuable amenity wherever you stay. Even the humble campground or caravan park now offers a level of Wi-Fi-based Internet connectivity as a value-added service.

But the French have taken this further with the use of fibre-optic broadband to assure the people who lodge at these facilities have proper high-speed Internet access everywhere. They are typically in a position to do this because that country is fast becoming the poster child for a highly-competitive highly-affordable Internet service. This is in contrast to the typical cost-effective setup with one or a few Wi-Fi access points to cover the campground with Wi-Fi wireless Internet.

Yelloh Village have worked with Covage to achieve this goal and also provide an IPTV service with access to international TV channels.They have also implemented the “smart-home” concept in the bungalows or cabins that are becoming part of what the typical campground or caravan park offers. For example, when a guest leaves their bungalow, the electrical installation and hot water heater shuts down like as expected in a lot of newer hotels.

Some people may think that the idea of using a campground or caravan park for their holidaying needs is a chance to seek a humble cheap holiday but as more of these places equip themselves in a manner similar to a resort, it may become that camping in the wilderness may be the way to have that humble holiday.

Similarly, the goal to see proper rural Internet service can play in to a campground owner’s hands as a way of seeking to provide high-calibre public-access Internet to holidaymakers who are wanting to camp the “connected way”.

San Francisco and San Diego establish the first free wireless hotspot which implements Hotspot 2.0 technologies


Free Wi-Fi networks in SF, San Jose join hands through Hotspot 2.0 | PC World

My Comments

The Wi-Fi Passpoint or Hotspot 2.0 technologies have been made available to allow those of us with mobile devices to benefit from public-access Wi-Fi without having to deal with Web-based sign-in routines every time we want to use these facilities. But they have been pitched primarily at mobile phone operators and ISPs who want to offer Wi-Fi service for their subscribers.

But San Francisco and San Diego have implemented this technology as part of their free public-access Wi-Fi setup, which I see as being a first for this class of public-access Wi-Fi. Typically these services implement a Web-based login routine which occurs at the start of each session and this may be provided in order to assent to the service’s terms and conditions. With these setups, it becomes impossible to continue a usage session even if you move out of the network’s scope temporarily and it also becomes impossible to roam between the different locations ran by the service without having to log in again.

What they have done is to prove that the Wi-Fi Passpoint or Hotspot 2.0 technology can work well with single-location or multi-location public-access Wi-Fi setups whether free-to-access or pay-to-access. For example, a chain of restaurants, a public-transit system or a community Wi-Fi setup can benefit from this by allowing the users to move between locations without a need to log in again.

The next question that may be raised is to simplify the provisioning experience, especially when it comes to provisioning the same service across multiple devices owned by the same user. This may range from setups where you simply assent to terms and conditions through services where you establish a session-based account like most docket-based hotspot setups to the services offered by WISPs and telcos which are based on an existing customer account.

Who knows, this could be the trend for easy-to-use secure public-access Wi-Fi as different scenarios are being tested.

IHG to raise the bar for free Internet access by frequent-lodger-club members

Articles – From the horse’s mouth

IHG Hotels

Product site (IHG Rewards Club)

Press Release

My Comments

Just previously, I have covered the issue of paying for Internet access at the big-name hotels and mentioned that it is worth checking for accommodation packages and frequent-lodger programs that include Internet access as part of the package. As part of citing the “Business Sense” accommodation package that the Intercontinental Melbourne The Rialto hotel were running, I learnt further from this hotel and the hotel chain’s PR agency about revisions that were underway for their Priority Club Rewards program.

Here, they are revising this program to include Internet access at the participating hotels for all members. Unlike some of these programs that include this benefit but limit it to a requirement that you stay in the hotel overnight or rent meeting space at that hotel before you can use Internet service, the IHG Rewards Club program allows members to benefit from the Internet service unconditionally. This means that even if they just attend an event, visit the restaurant or bar for something to eat or drink or see a guest who is staying at that hotel, they can use the wireless Internet service there.

This ability to use the Internet-access independent of whether you are staying at the hotel answers a key reality with people who use portable computing equipment. Here, one could be using the bar or restaurant as a meeting place or “second office” for activities like showing data that you have drawn down from work to show a colleague or client; or simply catching up with emails and similar online activity while away from the office.

The feature is intended to be rolled out gradually with Elite-level members being the first to benefit from July 2013, with all members benefiting from 2014. The IHG Rewards plan also is intended to work across all of the IHG hotel brands ranging from the premium Intercontinental hotels through the Crowne Plaza to the cheaper Holiday Inn places.

What I see of this is that it could be a chance for the hospitality industry to look at the realities concerning how people are using portable computer equipment on the property and work better towards improving the tariffs and packages for this reality.

You may not have to pay extra for Internet access at that business hotel in some situations


Rydges Melbourne

Some accommodations plans offered by hotels like this one do include wireless Internet access

A common gripe I have heard from travellers in relation to Internet access at hotels, especially the “big-time” hotel chains is that they charge too much for Internet access rather than providing it as a complimentary service.

There are two ways you can benefit from this access without having to pay extra.

The business-focused accommodation deal

Some hotels offer a business-focused deal which includes at least accommodation, breakfast served in the main restaurant along with the Internet access for the duration of your stay. Most often, some of these packages are offered through the weekdays and, in some cases, may be cheaper that the standard accommodation-only rate. Different properties may throw in extras like reduced business-centre costs, or a rebate on your food or drink bill.

This is in a similar vein to how some of the accommodation+breakfast deals may cost slightly more than the accommodation-only deals yet you have the breakfast which would cost significantly more as part of the package.

Examples of these include:

It is also worth paying attention to the club-floor or concierge-floor programs that some of these hotels offer which will have complimentary or reduced-price Internet access. These premium-priced programs are related to a cluster of rooms on a particular floor where you also have access to an exclusive-access lounge, complimentary food and drinks amongst other things depending on the program.

That frequent-lodger program that the hotel offers

Some of the hotels who run a frequent-lodger program may offer cheaper or inclusive Internet access for all members of the program. An example of this is the Marriott Rewards program which provides inclusive Internet access to guests checking in using this plan. Another example is the PriorityGUEST program which reduces the standard property-specific Internet access costs by half for members who check in at a Rydges, QT or Art Series hotel with their PriorityGUEST card.


It makes sense to spend extra time trawling through Websites and similar material offered by a big-name hotel chain or other hotel that charges for Internet access and look for the accommodation packages or frequent-lodger programs that integrate access to this service.

It is worth knowing that any particular package or promotion that I mention in this article may be subject to change.

Improvements taking shape for better public wireless Internet access


Wi-Fi Alliance Begins Certification For Automatic Hotspot Connection – SmallNetBuilder

My Comments

The Wi-Fi Alliance are taking proper steps to make the user experience for wireless-hotspot services more user friendly and secure. This is based on the “Passpoint” standard which covers logging in and a secure usage session.

It has been driven by wireless-broadband providers who want to use these hotspots and their wired-broadband backhauls as a data offload in busy areas. One key improvement is to implement WPA-Enterprise security with session-unique security parameters rather than the common WPA-PSK security which uses a common password.

The login experience has also been tackled through the provision of a consistent experience that isn’t depending on a Web-based form. Here, the credentials could be a username/password combination that is presented by the device’s native user interface, or credentials held on the device or in a SIM card.

This may open up hotspot access to headless or limited-display devices like digital cameras, car infotainment systems or handheld games consoles. But a question that could be raised is whether it could be feasible to have a group of devices seen as a logical network that can exist through the hotspot’s space. This issue may play in to setups like multiplayer multi-machine gaming amongst a group of teenagers or young adults in the same cafe or bar.

Another question worth raising about Passpoint is whether a venue is able to have control over its Wi-Fi access? This would be of concern with anyone in the food-beverage-hospitality industry who would rather that patrons who use the venue’s Wi-Fi are the ones who are buying food and drink or renting a room.

This function has also been extended beyond just logging in to the network and Internet service. A Passpoint setup has also had the ability to factor in application-level authentication needs like content access. An example of this application is the in-room movies service offered by nearly every hotel. Here they could allow a person to stream a movie to a tablet or laptop and view this anywhere around the premises such as the lobby lounge.

One risk that I see for Passpoint or any other “easy-setup” standard promoted by the Wi-Fi Alliance is that the same old situation will repeat itself. This is where Apple won’t implement the standard in their products or platforms even though they consider themselves the “super-cool” IT brand. I have seen this for myself with WPS where just about everything except a MacBook Pro or an iPhone will enroll with a Wi-Fi segment using this “push-button” setup routine.

These standards could be implemented not just with an operating system but also in a software form which is based around a program that can be loaded on to a device by its user and that such software is available through device platform’s app store without any need for the device to be jailbroken.

Should you set up a Wi-Fi hotspot in your cafe or bar?

Fujitsu Lifebook TH550M convertible notebook at a Wi-Fi hotspotI have talked with a few cafe owners regarding the idea of implementing or maintaining public Wi-Fi Internet access at their premises and have been observing how the different premises have taken on this issue. As well, I have read articles on the topic of the cafe or bar becoming an increasingly-relevant business and social place in most cities. Most of these establishments may consider the provision of public Internet access more as a way of adding value to their service especially in a crowded marketplace.

Some of you may already have public Wi-Fi Internet service in place thanks to either a neighbouring business that you are friendly with or a “hotzone” run by the local government or a private entity.

The usual mitigating factors that affect the use of a public Wi-Fi hotspot in that cafe or bar may include the size and layout of the public areas. A small cafe may put off that idea due to a small public dining area with lots of furniture. Similarly the location of the premises to regular public transport (regular rail, tram / light-rail or regular bus service) may affect its worth for this feature due to the fact that the commuters would use this facility to do email updates before they head on their journey.

One cafe owner who has a hotspot may notice that there may be more reliance on certain traffic types and drivers to cause more patronage and make the use of a hotspot worthwhile. He cited the existence of apartment blocks as being a key driver due to the residents seeing the cafe as a “second lounge room” due to the typical flat (apartment) having a very small lounge area. Another driver would be tertiary education or small offices operating nearby, where the cafe serves as the “second office”. This would include people who work from their homes and use these places for their meetings.

Factors that may be of concern:

The space and layout of the public area can be a key factor. A wireless hotspot may work against smaller premises where there is a lot of furniture in the public area. This is because of the fact that there is an increased likelihood of personal luggage like laptop bags or briefcases ending up in the thoroughfares.

Another factor is the prevalence of smaller living or working premises near the location. Here, this could support the provision of a hotspot due to the cafe or bar being seen as a “second lounge room” or “second office” because of the size of the living or working area in the customers’ own areas. This may be already factored in to your business’s direction especially as development takes place in the neighbourhood concerning these kind of premises or as a significant employer sets up shop nearby.

Yet another factor that affect your idea of implementing or maintaining a public wireless Internet service would be the proximity of the premises to regular public transport. This may be based on a tram or regular full-time bus service passing your door or a rail station for a commuter-rail or mass-transit service being a few minutes walk from your door.

As well, you may also factor in the kind and frequency of your traffic. This may include whether you have your traffic arriving mainly through weekdays or weekends.

On the other hand, some cafe and bar operators may find that a Wi-Fi hotspot may attract “nuisance technology traffic” who may affect the mood of the cafe or bar. This traffic may manifest in the form of people playing games with loud sound-effects, teenagers or young people playing YouTube videos or latest downloaded music with the sound turned up loud, or customers using their laptops for long videoconferencing sessions. It may also attract “mooching” where customers exist in the premises for a long time, using the facilities but without ordering any food or drink or infrequently ordering low-value food and drink.

Surveying your traffic

It may be worth observing the kind of traffic you have before committing to a public Wi-Fi service so you can have best use. One way would be to observe and count particular traffic types through a sample period of a month or two months. Here you would notice the number of traffic that fits certain types as well as the value of the spend caused by that traffic through their stay.

Traffic types:

There are two different technology-user traffic types to look for when assessing the volume of traffic that uses technology.

Business traffic

These are people who are using your premises to do business. Typically they are equipped with a briefcase or similar case and will use a laptop computer. They may also be equipped with various business documents, paper notebooks or similar items.

This traffic will end up in two sub-classes – one where there is a meeting between two or more people; and another where the person works alone at the table or bench, going through notes or typing / writing up the material. The latter person may come about after a meeting where one of the participants want to “do their homework” from that meeting away from the office.

Leisure portable computer users

These people use the portable-computer technology for personal use at your premises. This will typically be in the form of email, Social Web (Twitter, Facebook, etc), games (Angry Birds, etc), researching leisure-activity information (movies, concerts, etc), videoconferencing (Skype) or personal video viewing (YouTube, etc).

They may typically be younger users who may be alone or with a group of friends and be clutching on to consumer notebooks or tablet computers like the iPad.

What to factor in

When you plan for a hotspot or want to attract “technology-equipped” traffic, there are certain issues worth considering

One factor would be the premises capacity. This encompasses the seating capacity and layout in both indoor and outdoor areas. Here, technology users will come in with briefcases or other luggage that houses their technology and this can get in the way of the traffic flow. Similarly, the premises needs to have proper access to restrooms which can allow for increased traffic.

It may also be worth investigating additional power connections in the public area such as spare power outlets so that clients can charge their technology devices or run the devices on AC while at the premises. This may also involve using high-capacity powerboards when connecting lights or appliances to power outlets in the public area and anchoring these powerboards to the wall using their keyhole sockets.

Of course, it is worth finding out from your regular clients about how they would accept this traffic that would be caused by the proposed hotspot. Of course some of the regular clients may be portable-technology users themselves and may want to benefit from this kind of access themselves.


This article may be of interest and use to cafe or bar owners who are thinking or have thought about the public Wi-Fi Internet service as part of the service mix for the business. It does explain what issues may be of concern as part of providing the service and whether the service may be right for the business.

Please feel free to leave comments after this article about your experience with planning for, setting up or operating public Wi-Fi internet service in your cafe or bar. If you are reading this in the HomeNetworking01.info Facebook Page, you can leave comments on that page after the article. As well, please lave the name of your cafe or bar in the comments that you leave and / or provide a Web link to your establishment’s homepage in the Web link field so I can see it is from the establishment who has the insight.

Implementing HP ePrint as a public-printer setup


HP Envy 100 all-in-one printer (D410a)

HP Envy 100 all-in-one printer

Most of the new network-capable Hewlett-Packard home and small-business printers are now offering ePrint, which is an email-driven cloud-based driverless printing service ran by HP. This service has increased the appeal of running a printer as a courtesy printer service for business partners, clients, guests or patrons. This is due to there being no need to require the right driver to be on the computer for one to print out a document.

What is HP ePrint

The ePrint servie is a cloud-based printing setup operated by Hewlett-Packard that allows one to send a print job by email to one of many recently-released HP printers via email.

HP Photosmart Wireless-E B110a all-in-one printer

HP Photosmart B110a – the cheapest ePrint-enabled printer

I have infact reviewed some of these printers on HomeNetworking01.info, such as the Photosmart B110a, Envy 100, OfficeJet Pro 8500a Plus, Colour LaserJet CM1415fnw and LaserJet M1536dnf. As well, I have covered HP ePrint in another article to do with a product launch that had occurred last year in Singapore.

Here, you just send an email to the printer with the file that you want hard copy of as an attachment. The file can be one of the common file formats like PDF, text, HTML, JPEG or a Microsoft Office file.

If you want hard copy of an email, you can forward the email to the ePrint address or add the ePrint address as a BCC address in the email you are sending. You could even send an MMS message from your mobile phone to your HP ePrint printer by using the ePrint address as the destination address for that message.

Technical requirements

HP LaserJet M1536dnf monochrome laser multifunction printer

HP LaserJet M1536dnf monochrome laser multifunction printer

The requirement is that the HP printer has to have access to an Internet connection. Since these printers have an Ethernet and / or Wi-Fi wireless connection to a local network, the printer needs to be on a network served by a network-Internet “edge” device such as a router.

The client devices can be connected to the Internet via any network. This can range from a smartphone or tablet connected directly to a wireless-broadband service to a computer connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot or a computer connected to the same local network as the printer. This can allow for deployment scenarios like a printer connected to a private network yet serving a Wi-Fi hotspot or a printer connected to a cafe’s network but allowing hard-copy for people who use iPads that are connected to the wireless carriers.

ePrint in the public-printer or complimentary-printer context

A typical public-use setup is represented by the example that I have outlined below.

Example setup

This example of an ePrint-enabled HP printer working as a public printer was the HP Envy 100 installed at Stay On Beverly which is a backpackers’ hostel in Los Angeles. How I learnt of this was through a comment posted on this site by Bo Lorentzen who is the hostel’s owner in response to a review of this printer that I had done, just after I published that review.

HP Envy 100 used as public printer at Stay On Beverly

HP Envy 100 (left of image) used as public printer at Stay On Beverly

He had set this up as a no-fuss way of allowing the travellers that stay at this hostel to print out documents like airline tickets and boarding passes that they receive via email as part of purchasing air travel through the Internet. I had further conversation with Bo and he had told me that he had put a notice with the ePrint address on the top of the printer so guests know where to print to.

Conveying the ePrint address to your customers

You can let your customers’ know of your printer’s ePrint address through a handout that your staff give to the customers as and when they want to use the public printing service. This would be more effective where only the staff members have access to the printer. A self-service setup like the above-mentioned HP Envy 100 at “Stay On Beverly” will require the printer to be in an area accessible to patrons or guests rather than the general public and the address would be fixed to a label on the machine. On the other hand, there could be instructions on how to print out the ePrint Info Sheet displayed near the printer.


HP OfficeJet Pro 8500a Plus multifunction inkjet printer

HP OfficeJet Pro 8500a Plus – a hign-end business inkjet multifunction printer

One key limitation with the email-based ePrint system is that once the user has the ePrint address, they can send further documents to the printer just by using that address. This could be held in an email contact list or the “email-history” lists like the Sent Items in most email clients. Here, this could lead to the printer being used to print out

As well, in some areas, a public “free-to-use” environment can allow for abuse of the printer facilities. This could range from people using the printer to print material that can offend to “barrelling out” a very large document that uses up all of the machine’s resources.

How can you gain control over your ePrint printer

Resetting your ePrint address

If you do end up with your printer spewing out jobs that shouldn’t be printed, you may have to reset the ePrint address.

HP ePrintCenter Web page

HP ePrintCenter management page

You will have to remove your printer’s ePrint address from your ePrintCenter account. This is don by bringing the printer up on the ePrintCenter dashboard and clicking on “Remove Printer”. Then you use the printer’s control panel or Web interface (accessible at the printer’s IP address) to remove Web services. After that you then use this same interface to enable Web services. Here, you print out a new info sheet with the new ePrint address.

After that, you enrol the new ePrint address with your ePrintCenter account and are ready to go. If you do run ePrint Apps, you will have to reconfigure the mix of apps you have on your printer.

Suspending ePrint operation

ePrint ON/OFF option on printer control panel

ePrint ON/OFF option on printer control panel

You may have to suspend your printer’s ePrint operation so it doesn’t print out ePrint jobs. Here, this could be done as part of closing up your premises at the end of trading to stop people who aren’t at your premises using your machine for example.

This can be done at your printer’s control panel by selecting the “ePrint on / off” option or at the printer’s Web page which will have a similar option.

Use of a “white list” in HP ePrintCenter

You may want to control ePrint access to your public HP printer so that only your guests or patrons are using the printer. Here, you use the HP ePrintCenter to manage a “white-list” of people who can send jobs via email to the printer. The limit you can have for this list is 50 users.

This method may benefit a hotel, B&B or similar lodging place where you can ask for your guests’ email addresses as part of the booking or check-in process. Then you use the HP ePrintCenter to enable printing for that guest when they check in; then use this same interface to disable printing for the same guest on the day they check out. Similarly, a small cafe or bar who knows their customers can benefit from this setup by allowing unrestricted access to the printer for trusted and known customers.

Features that could be provided

HP LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw colour laser multifunction printer

HP LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw colour laser multifunction printer

One feature that I would like to see for HP ePrint if it is to work in the public printer concept is the ability for print jobs to be manually released. This could be through the use of a client job number that is emailed back to the client device once they send out the job and/or an operator password that is keyed in before the job is printed. This above scenario can work well for those businesses that want to charge by the page for printing if the job queue list shows the number of pages.

A machine like the HP Colour LaserJet CM1415fnw or OfficeJet Pro 8500a Plus, which has a large LCD screen could benefit from a “job preview” function so that the operator can vet jobs before they are printed. As well, there could be an option for an origin class to be blocked. Here, this could, for example, prevent MMS messages, which is a common path for “sexting” and mobile-phone bullying, that are just sent to the printer from being printed out.

Of course, when an MMS message is printed out by an HP ePrint printer, it should be passed through as a formatted text page rather than two pages with one that has regular text and one that has formatted text.


At the moment, the HP ePrint technology can be a basic way of providing public driver-free print service to a trusted user base that is highly mobile but there needs to be a lot more done to it in order to yield a highly-controllable service.

Product Review–WiFi Analyzer (Android)


Android Market direct link


Click on or scan this barcode from your Android device to install this program.


I am reviewing WiFi Analyzer which is an elementary wireless-network site-survey tool for the Android platform. This program is free-to-download but is ad-supported with ads that can be suppressed for a few weeks at a time through a user option. There is also the ability for users to donate via PayPal to keep the program being developed.

Like all other WiFi site-survey tools, this program relies on the “beacon” information sent out by wireless networks at regular information and a low-traffic wireless network may occasionally show up on the program’s radar whereas a regularly-used network will exist on the program’s radar.

Data views

This program has a few different methods of visualising the wireless-network space that your Android device as listed below.

There is a Channel graph which, like inSSIDer, can show the relative strength of each SSID on the Y axis and channel positioning on the X axis. This can be useful for determining whether a wireless network is being swamped out by other networks or determining where to tune the wireless access point’s operating channel to.

Wi-Fi Analyzer for Android Channel Graph

Wi-Fi Analyzer Channel Graph

There is also a time graph which shows relative signal strength of access points over a time period. This can be useful for determining what happens when a certain network comes on line for example.

There is also an access-point list which lists each access point that the Android phone can pick up. Here, you are provided with the ESSID, BSSID, channel number and security type (including WPS capability) of each access point and can have this sorted by ESSID, channel,signal strength or security type (“openness”). This list can be grouped by ESSID and security type so you can identify multi-access-point networks. This view may not be accurate if you have multiple wireless routers in an area set to default SSIDs like “linksys” or “dlink” but working on different WEP keys or WPA passphrases.

Wi-Fi Analyzer Network List

Wi-Fi Analyzer Network List by ESSID

There is a Channel-rating bar graph which measures channel useability by the number of stars where the more stars that exist, the better the channel is for your network. You can also “set” an access point to this graph so you can compare channels to the one it is tuned to at the moment. Again, this would come in handy for tuning the access point for best operation.

Lastly, there is a Signal strength meter which allows you to measure the signal strength of an access point. This can be useful for locating rogue or interfering access points or simply to determine the coverage of an access point.

Wi-Fi Analyzer signal strength meter

Wi-Fi Analyzer signal strength meter

There is the ability for one to connect to a network if the user installs the “WiFi Connector Library” either through the application or by visiting the Android Market. This can allow the user to “lock-on” to a network while monitoring other wireless access points.

It works well as a basic handheld tool for setting up a new wireless router or access point or keeping a small wireless network operating at its best. For businesses who run public wireless hotspots, this program allows them to assess their hotspot’s performance or find rogue access points (fake hotspots / evil-twins).

Usage tests

I had put the program to some usage tests with different wireless networks including my own and a wireless hotspot, This hotspot was a complementary-use service run by a small independently-run cafe whom I have been helping out with concerning its performance and keeping it “business-safe”. Here, I used the signal-strength meter to check that there was proper signal coverage over the public dining room and terrace area of that cafe. I also used the channel-graph view to determine if there are other access points or ad-hoc wireless networks able to be picked up in the cafe. Both of these functions worked well with assessing the hotspot’s coverage and quality-of-service.

As well, I used it in two shopping strips to assess how it and the Samsung Galaxy S Android handset that I was running it on could handle many wireless networks. It is able to identify each SSID and plot it properly on the graph and could cope with me walking into and out of particular access-point coverage ranges.

Limitations and Points of Improvement

For this application, the program could support “whitelisting” of BSSIDs against an ESSID so that one can easily know if the access point that is using your ESSID is really your network. This would work well with managing public networks like wireless hotspots by identifying rogue access points like the aforementioned “fake hotspots”. It can also work well with managing multiple-access-point wireless networks.

A “Pro” version, which would be sold for at an extra cost and wouldn’t have in-app advertising, could provide various extra functions like SSID whitelist management for use in optimising or managing wireless-network activity in particular sites or GPS support for “plotting” network coverage maps or the ability to keep standard log files for use with desktop software.

It is worth noting that this program is restricted to the frequency bands that the smartphone or tablet can cover and this is typically the 2.4GHz platform. At the moment, there aren’t any Android devices that can cover the 5GHz spectrum using their own hardware.


At last this is a program that answers my need for a cost-effective easy-to-use handheld network-survey tool in a popular smartphone platform. It can therefore be a good companion program to the inSSIDer program that I had previously reviewed on this site.

Simplifying login and authentication processes for WiFi hotspots


Wi-Fi body wants hotspots to override 3G • reghardware

From the horse’s mouth

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ Hotspot Program to Ease Subscriber Connectivity in Service Provider Wi-Fi® Hotspots  – Press Release

Wi-Fi Alliance Webpage

My comments

One main thrust behind the Wi-Fi Alliance’s new initiative concerning authentication, authorisation and accounting on public hotspots was to permit a wireless-broadband carrier to use Wi-Fi hotspots as a complimentary cellular technology. This is to avoid the need to buy cellular-telephony spectrum in order to increase service capacity and is increasingly necessary as the available radio spectrum becomes increasingly scarce.

Here, a cellular carrier could run their own Wi-Fi hotspot networks like what Telstra is doing or they could form a partnership with a wireless Internet service provider like “The Cloud” in the UK as a way of providing this service. They could then allow for a customer to seamlessly hand over from a 3G network to a Wi-Fi network that supports these credentials.

The way this is going to operate is to use a SIM card in a smartphone to store credentials for Wi-Fi networks. This card is typically controlled by the cellular carrier and may be only used for login credentials that continue the carrier’s partnerships.

A limitation I find with this is that the carrier could implement software locks so that the customer can’t use public networks other than those provided for by the carrier or their partnership. As well, there are other issues that haven’t been looked at properly with this goal for improved authorisation, authentication and accounting on these networks as I list below.

Venue-controlled hotspots

It can also make life difficult for customers who use hotspots provided by venue owners like hotels or cafes. Here, the login experience is typically managed by the hotspot owner and this may require information like a session ID in the case of a hotspot at a bar or cafe, or a room number for a hotel. These may apply for hotspot service where you pay the premises owner for that service or the service is part of the business’s main operation. In some free hotspots, you may have to click on a form to assent to terms and conditions of the service before you continue using the service.

As well, a user could use a hotspot run by an independent wireless hotspot operator and buy their access themselves through a Web-based user interface before using the service.

What I would like to see is support for these kind of hotspots because the user interface that is provided by most of them can become awkward for people who use handheld devices. This is typically because most of these user interfaces are designed for devices like laptops rather than handheld devices.

The improved interfaces could support “app-style” login experiences including “remember-me” login experiences where applicable. Other improvements that could be facilitated include the use of barcodes that are scanned by the phone’s camera to load “session keys” for docket-controlled hotspots or MMS direct-load support for login tokens for “SMS login token” WISPS. It could then lead to a venue-branded experience which some users may find as a “safety net” for their hotspot experience.

As well, a branded experience can be part of a “walled-garden” of sites that a person can visit free of charge or can be a sophisticated experience with such things as an online menu or the ability to order food and drink from your computing device.

Similarly, the idea of “franchising” WISP service to owners of venue-controlled hotspots hasn’t been worked out fully with this technology. Here, a person could have the rights to resell a WISP’s service under varying risk-return models and have the clients associated with that service use their hotspot in exchange for a cut of the costs paid by the clients.

Selective device-cluster creation

It is also a preferred standard to have devices in a public network isolated at lower network levels in order to prevent unwanted peer-to-peer discovery of the devices on these networks. This is typically achieved through functions like “AP isolation” or “Wireless Network isolation” and makes it appear to the devices that they are connecting directly to the Internet privately.

There are situations where a person may want to provide local connectivity between their own devices or devices owned by other users that are in their trust circle. Examples of this include LAN-based gaming over a wireless hotspot network, workgroups sharing data during a cafe meeting; one shifting data between a smartphone and a tablet computer at a coffee lounge or simply uploading pictures from a Wi-Fi-enabled camera to a 13” traveller laptop at their favourite “watering hole”.

Here, the authentication needed for this could be achieved through “same-token” login for devices with integrated Web browsers to entry of MAC addresses or WPS PIN numbers into a “cluster-creation” screen provided by the hotspot gateway. The Wi-Fi Alliance could examine the feasibility of using the new authentication methods as a way of creating selective network clusters across a device-isolated public wireless network.

Authenticating hotspots at the SSID-discovery level

The other question that has not been answered as far as I am concerned is whether there will be a system for authenticating hotspots and public networks in a similar manner to what is done when a user logs on to a banking site for example. This is to verify that the user has discovered a “safe” network before they select that SSID and begin to login to the hotspot.

The data that would be verified would be the MAC addresses of the access points as well as the gateway device’s  IP address and MAC address. This can be used to verify that the user has logged in to a network that is operated by the venue that is providing the hotspot service. For a WISP like “The Cloud” or FON, this may be useful for verifying that users have logged in to the WISP’s network. In this case, this information may pertain to the locally-installed hardware for the WISP.

Here, this could be achieved through a private-key / public-key exchange setup where the successfully verified hotspots could at least be highlighted in a wireless network with a ?key” or green-light icon. If this system does also support the transmission of logo icons, the client device could also show a company logo for that hotspot host.

It can also work as a way of encouraging customers to be sure of where they are surfing the Web through. As well, a business could have a Windows 7 laptop or Blackberry smartphone that supports this kind of verification for public wireless networks to prohibit logging in to public wireless networks that don’t have this kind of verification.

The main issue with this is that independently-run cafes and bars may need to be able to have access to any certification setups at a modest price, preferably through a government business-support agency or their bank.


Once these issues are ironed out concerning the provision of public Wi-Fi Internet service to the hordes of users with notebooks, netbooks, smartphones and tablet computers, then they can use these services to full capability in a secure manner.