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 WiFi||Commercial WiFi|
|Coverage||10-30 metres radius||Everywhere in the specified area|
|Passwords||All 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 Control||None||The ability to see and control:
|Network management, reliability||None, 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.
|Branding||None||When 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|
|Security||Must be updated manually. WiFi point interface is not usually secured||Automated 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.|
|Monetization||None, manually||A user can:
|Roaming, moving between WiFi points/rooms||None - 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, Analytics||None||Possibility of statistical analysis of WiFi users|
|Scalability,adding extra rooms, WiFi zones||None, 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.