Hottest Hotspot Gateways

4 products that deliver Wi-Fi guest access.

wifi

Offering Wi-Fi can be a good way to increase return customers and boost revenue in retail stores, hotels, cafes, etc. And it provides convenience for contractors and associates working in corporate offices and conference rooms. We looked at four Wi-Fi hotspot solutions, some that offer free access, others that support fee-based access. (Read the story version.) Here are the individual reviews:

Intellinet GuestGate MK II: Best for small deployments

Intellinet GuestGate MK II: Best for small deployments

The GuestGate MK II from Intellinet is an 802.11n hotspot gateway targeted towards smaller deployments, available for as low as $140 from online retailers with a three-year manufacturer warranty. It features automatic segregation from the host or private network that it plugs into. The GuestGate hotspot gateway features four Internet ports to expand coverage and a wireless on/off switch.

Captive Portal

Captive Portal

The GuestGate MK II provides a fully customizable captive portal, password-protected Internet access using global or up to 50 individual passwords or RADIUS authentication, and offers bandwidth controls. We found the initial installation of the hotspot to be easy. Simply plug it anywhere on the host network and it starts offering segregated guest access.

Guest Internet Hotspot Gateway and Printer (GIS-R4)

Guest Internet Hotspot Gateway and Printer (GIS-R4)

The Guest Internet Hotspot Gateway (GIS-R4) supports up to 100 users, and offers a compatible Ticket Printer (GIS-TP1). Although the gateway doesn’t include Wi-Fi, four Ethernet ports offer wired access and wireless access by connecting access points. The gateway is available for as low as $210 and the ticket printer for as low as $150. The gateway provides a fully customizable captive portal. To sell the access codes you can configure a PayPal Business account to accept credit cards and PayPal payments for self-service users.

Guest Internet Hotpost Gateway

Guest Internet Hotpost Gateway

The installation of the gateway was easy; simply plug it into the Internet connection or private network, connect a PC, and the first time you access the Internet a wizard appears. It helps you test/configure the Internet connection, set an admin password, customize the login page, and select the authentication method. The remaining pages in the Management section allow you to schedule hotspot availability, change the system password, and reboot the system. We also setup the ticket printer. Installation was easy.

ZyXEL Hotspot Gateway and Printer

ZyXEL Hotspot Gateway and Printer

The ZyXEL 802.11n Hotspot Gateway (N4100) and its compatible Service Gateway Printer (SP300E) are targeted for mid-sized deployments. The gateway costs as low as $400 and the printer $290. The Hotspot Gateway is designed to provide dedicated guest access via 802.11n with the ability to connect computers or additional access points via its four Ethernet ports. It supports up to 100 concurrent users, with the ability to upgrade to a license supporting 200.

Fully customizable

Fully customizable

The ZyXEL Hotspot Gateway features a fully customizable captive portal, supports on-demand user account creation with the ticket printer, self-service credit card billing, and RADIUS authentication. We found the gateway to be easy to install. We also setup the ticket printer. Installation was easy; it connects to the gateway via Ethernet and was automatically detected by the gateway. The printer features three buttons that you can press to generate an account and print-out with the login info and pricing based upon the billing profiles you’ve set for each button.

4ipnet Wireless Hotspot Gateway Kit

4ipnet Wireless Hotspot Gateway Kit

The 4ipnet Wireless Hotspot Gateway (HSG260) provides public and private 802.11n wireless access, targeted for mid-sized deployments. We reviewed their kit (HSG260-WTG2) that also includes the ticket printer and a dial-pad to generate access codes for guests. The kit is available at $1,150 via 4ipnet, or the gateway separately at $600 and the dial-pad at $560.

Our overall winner

We found the installation of the hotspot kit to be easy. During our review we also setup the ticket printer and dial-pad. Installation was easy; the ticket printer connects to the dial-pad via a serial cable and the dial-pad automatically connects via Wi-Fi to the hotspot gateway. Overall, the 4ipnet Wireless Hotspot Gateway is an advanced solution that supports just about any hotspot type or requirement. Though it’s the most expensive solution we reviewed, it’s one of the most configurable and customizable solutions.