This final description of good public Wi-Fi is another one with lots of controversy. First a caveat, if you live in a country which has some crazy law which forces a solution other than this easy one – obviously you’ll need to follow the laws of your country. Or better yet, lobby to remove such crazy restrictions!
Easy can be described quite quickly… to access a Wi-Fi SSID, the end user must click on the SSID once. After that, the client device remembers the SSID and joins automatically from then on.
I can hear your complaints and questions already. What about this, what about that, what about x, y, and z.
What I am proposing here is not new. Many large multi-national corporations are now embracing this simple, easy way of accessing their public Wi-Fi.
Let’s address some of your concerns. First, many assume incorrectly you need to have some sort of captive portal in order to have end-users click on a terms of service to limit liability. I’ll answer this with a couple of examples.
First up, Disney. Disney is a huge multi-national corporation with massive teams of lawyers. Much of their value is in their copyrights, intellectual property, and the like. They care a lot about meeting the laws and restrictions placed upon them.
Yet the public Wi-Fi in the Disney parks is completely free of any form of captive portal. You click on the Disney SSID, and you are in and running. Next time you return to the park your device just works.
I’ll repeat that once again for emphasis. Your device just works! It works just the same as when you return to home or work. The device joins the SSID, gets and IP address, default gateway and DNS, then has direct access to the Internet. (they might be doing some sort of bandwidth shaping – but I didn’t have tools to examine it further)
So if Disney, with all its legal might, found it not necessary to have a captive portal. Why are you?
Second – the chain of LaQuinta hotels. Their CEO asked explicitly to have their hotels act as a second home for their customers. They want the experience to be as simple and easy as it is at home. Not just by having comfortable beds, free breakfasts, and clean rooms. But the Wi-Fi experience needs to be just like home. After the first time connecting to the LaQuinta SSID, every time after your device just works.
See a pattern here. We want the Public Wi-Fi experience to be the same everywhere. It just works!
If Disney and LaQuinta can do this – provide Fast, Free and Easy public Wi-Fi, what is stopping you from providing the same?
Some say, “What about losing the branding opportunity.” – do you really think end-users care about hitting a splash page with your logo, that slows down their experience, makes them think more or less of your brand?
To provide the easy part of a Public Wi-Fi solution, just think what you’d want for your own personal experience?
In the final installment, we’ll discuss some of the downsides of providing Public Wi-Fi to your customers.