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Free Guest Wi-Fi Access: Best Practices

Posted by Jody Raines on Aug 25, 2017 3:01:32 PM
Jody Raines

Offering free Wi-Fi is a common service in many businesses, and you're probably no different in offering it to loyal and first-time customers. Since most customers expect it in public places, it's always a good idea to come up with a workable policy to make it a fair system for everyone.

intelligent wifiOne of the biggest downsides to offering free Wi-Fi is how much people try to monopolize their time on the network. You give any service for free, and a lot of people are going to take advantage of it as much as they can.

It's unfortunate when customers use your Wi-Fi service to search services that don't pertain to your brand. Or, they may bombard your bandwidth with downloads and live-streaming requests.

Here's some best practices for offering free guest Wi-Fi using a fair policy.

Establish a Formal Registration Process to Control Access

To put less stress on your Wi-Fi network, requesting users do a simple registration process allows better control on your end. Once you can monitor what's being used, you'll be able to take control of who's abusing the network while gathering data in the process.

When allowing people to sign-in through a registration process, you can capture valuable data to provide better services for the future.

Of course, you don't want to restrict your customers too much or they may feel like you're micro-managing your Wi-Fi network. Still, a registration process is going to make your customers feel  secure when using your Wi-Fi and also more cognizant of how much Wi-Fi they're using.

A Policy for Guest Access Roles

One good way to provide a superior guest access policy is to create a landing page Wi-Fi users see when they sign in. Requiring a log-in allows you to create a webpage providing relevant information for your most valuable customers.

At the same time, guest access policies allow you to set up a captive portal to capture even more data on your Wi-Fi users. Captive portals help with marketing later, though it also sets up different roles and credentials for your users.

As with registrations, it prevents users from using your Wi-Fi network maliciously. You're also setting quality of service limits to make it a fair system for everyone.

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Customizing Guest Access Based On Need

The use of captive portalsabove also allows you to customize content on your landing page. In fact, a lot of captive portal data is in real-time, letting you tweak any content within minutes.

Through context variables, you'll be able to customize guest access based on particular need. This means content on your landing page can persuade users to use your Wi-Fi network strictly to learn about your products and services.

Since you'll already have data about what they want, you'll personalize this information so it persuades users to stay focused on your brand.

Setting Up Content Filters and Bandwidth Limits

With the right content filters, you'll limit what users access so they're more apt to keep engaging with your own content. When in an enterprise environment, you can assure all content pertains to your business and not something related to only personal needs.

Bandwidth limits keep your Wi-Fi network from being bogged down by people downloading large files. Many of your valuable customers may leave if they find out your Wi-Fi network is too slow from overuse.

Creating a Strong Security Framework

You need to assure all your customers that any data they enter into a registration system is going to stay private. Make it clear you're using the latest encryption methods, or a virtual private network for end-to-end security.

Don't forget to make it clear you use an active firewall, plus continually update all your firmware so you don't have security gaps.

It's equally important to disable access points during non-usage periods to avoid any chance of hackers infiltrating the network.

Tags: free wi-fi, captive portal

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"A group of intelligent and well-educated people who guide or try to guide the political, artistic, or social development of their society."

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