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How do I set up a public WiFi hotspot?

How do I set up a public WiFi hotspot?

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Last updated: 21 May 2021

WiFi access is a great way to attract customers to your business. Find out how to set up a public WiFi hotspot here.

Is my broadband strong enough for a public WiFi hotspot?

Establishing a public WiFi hotspot relies on a strong and stable internet connection, so it’s essential you check your signal strength before attempting to set one up. If it’s not up to scratch, anyone trying to connect will be frustrated by half-loaded pages and time-out messages.

Pretty much all broadband deals come with unlimited usage now, so over consumption should be of no concern when setting up a public WiFi hotspot. However, what speeds you need will depend on how big your business is. For example, a standard fibre optic connection may be enough for a small café, but not a conference centre.

One way to help make sure you have a stable internet connection for your public WiFi hotspot is to set up a static IP address for your business connection; these are much more reliable than non-static IP connections.

It is also worth checking to see if you can get WiFi signal in every part of your office premises first; if you are unable to, it might be worth investing in a multiple routers of a mesh network of access points. 

How do I set up a guest network?

You’ll need to set up two networks on your router: a private one for the business itself, and one for the public. You can do this in your router’s settings. You then essentially divvy out bandwidth between your two networks, ensuring you have enough to run your business and allowing the public to enjoy the rest.

If you’re adverse to setting this up yourself, providers such as BT may include public WiFi systems as part of their business broadband deals.

How do I make my public WiFi hotspot secure?

It’s essential your public connection is safe from cyberthreats. Regularly changing the password, adding additional firewalls and disabling WPS are all effective ways to keep on top of this. You should also, as basic, enable WPA2 security on your router.

What is a hotspot gateway, and how do I get one?

A hotspot gateway is essentially another level of security that makes it much safer for the public to join your network whilst protecting it from threats. Rather than instantly connecting, the public will have to provide either a password, email address or small fee to join, or approve some other form of agreement.

It’s super straightforward to set this up. Simply buy some hotspot gateway hardware and install it in your router, or alternatively you can purchase routers with the software already installed. Each product will come with instructions from the manufacturer.


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Fergus Cole

Author: Fergus Cole

Fergus is a journalist specialising in the personal finance, energy and broadband sectors. He also has a passion for travel and adventure so tries to make the most of this in any spare time he gets.