This wireless hotspot kit from 4ipnet is an innovative bit of kit. Not only does it provide all the bits and bobs you need to set up a commercial hotspot – a gateway for providing access to the internet, a thermal printer for printing out guest access tickets, and a keypad to control it all – but you can also add QR codes to tickets, making logging on a breeze for users.
The new SDS200W device server and PRT200 POS printer can be wired or wirelessly linked to the HSG260 hotspot gateway, with up to ten printer/keypad combinations supported, and the whole lot is easy to deploy via 4ipnet’s patented Terminal Auto Setup (TAS) button. Press this for three seconds and the server will find the gateway, set up a private, encrypted wireless link to it and print out a confirmation ticket.
The HSG260 offers only single-band 2.4GHz wireless-N operations, but does have Gigabit LAN and WAN ports. Initial gateway setup is wizard-assisted, although we found it took a while to familiarise ourselves with the web interface and its myriad features.
The gateway provides two security zones – public and private – each with its own wireless network, and you can map the LAN ports to either one.
We allowed wired and wireless users coming in on the private zone to bypass further authentication. In setting up the public zone, local, RADIUS or on-demand authentication can be applied. The latter is of most interest as this brings the device server and printer into play.
On-demand authentication uses up to ten billing plans, each of which are linked to the keypad buttons. User accounts for each plan can be based on total access time, a set duration, a traffic volume quota or a cut-off time. Tickets can be customised by adding the SSID, encryption key, custom login instructions – and those QR codes. Simply press the desired button and the gateway creates a new user and password for the associated billing plan and manages all further access.
The login portals can be customised with your own company logos, banners and acceptable use policy agreements. You can also select an access policy for each zone that applies firewall rules, time schedules and QoS profiles. Once users have authenticated at the portal, the login page remains loaded and displays a counter showing remaining browsing time. You can also redirect users to a specific web page after they’ve logged in.
The gateway doesn’t provide any URL filtering, though. A walled garden presents up to 20 URLs that users may access from the portal without having to authenticate, and you can pester them with advertising URLs as well. The HSG260 also supports Authorize.Net, PayPal, SecurePay and WorldPay online payment gateways. Performance is fair: file copies over a close-range WPA2 wireless-N connection returned around 14MB/sec, and range can be increased since the public zone supports two WDS-enabled 4ipnet APs.
The HSG260-WTG2 is pricey when compared to ZyXEL’s N4100 (web ID: 360610), but it offers more features and greater flexibility in locating the printer/keypad combinations. We also found it easy to install and the ability to print QR login codes makes it unique.