Commercial vs Home WiFi comparison

Often hotels, cafes and businesses install home routers for public WiFi. You can use a home WiFi router as a public WiFi access point. But you have to be aware of tradeoffs. This table shows the differences between home WiFi routers and public WiFi hardware.

Home WiFiCommercial WiFi
Coverage10-30 metres radiusEverywhere in the specified area
PasswordsAll users are given the same password to log on to the Internet. If you need to change the password, you need to do that in all access points/all rooms. Common or individual passwords for the entire WiFi network easily changed in one place via web browser or mobile application. Unique passwords can be generated automatically and printed in batches on branded vouchers.
User ControlNoneThe ability to see and control:
  • who the users are
  • when they are connected
  • devices they use
  • how much each user is downloading
  • users may be limited by time or by download volume.
Network management, reliabilityNone, faults discovered only when the customer complains.
An on-site technician is required for troubleshooting and repairs.
WiFi network administrator is automatically notified of outages by email.
Administrators can see the status of the WiFi network and each individual access point online in one place via web browser or mobile app.
In case of a cable failure, WiFi points fall back to wireless mesh mode.
BrandingNoneWhen connecting to WiFi, users see a business login page with a logo, welcome note, links, or are automatically redirected to business Facebook page or webpage, etc
SecurityMust be updated manually. WiFi point interface is not usually securedAutomated updates from the WiFi access point vendor for maximum stability performance and security. Control interface is HTTPS secured. Each access point has a built-in firewall. WiFi users can be separated on hardware level eliminating the possibility of hacking either the network or each other.
MonetizationNone, manuallyA user can:
  • Purchase pre-printed access code vouchers.
  • Purchase time on a WiFi network login page with Visa or PayPal
  • ‘Earn’ access with Facebook likes
  • Get free but limited access upon agreeing to certain conditions.
  • Ability to build in advertisements
Roaming, moving between WiFi points/roomsNone - Connection is interrupted when user moves from one access point/room to another Connection is continuous. The WiFi device seamlessly roams to the best available WiFi access point.
Marketing, AnalyticsNonePossibility of statistical analysis of WiFi users
Scalability,adding extra rooms, WiFi zonesNone, each new access point needs to be manually configured.Additional points are easily added.
Price$30-$200 per WiFi router or access point$100-$2000 per access point

public WiFi networks

The reliability and security of public internet access should be the priority.

Unlike a single WiFi router, WiFi network installation requires careful planning, considering the customer’s needs, building specifications and budget. Some projects also require relevant certification, documentation and service level agreements which are not possible with home WiFi hardware and amateur installation. Overall, when implemented correctly, WiFi networks provide better value for money for businesses than many cheap, casually installed WiFi routers.