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atroutcatcherFlag for United States of America

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What is a technically sound solution for a hotel network which needs wireless access in rooms?

I have a client (a hotel) which has some 25 rooms and currently has a wireless solutions for the guests. There are various wireless access points in the building (either Cisco or Linksys units) which are connected to Dell 16 port 10/100/1000 switches, then to an Actiontec GT701 router.  Basically, a large home network for a hotel.  DHCP services are provided by the Actiontec router.

There are many problems with the network, mostly with the lack of consitent performance for clients.  DHCP services are terribly slow so most clients report issues when they only need to wait 30 seconds (which is indeed a long time).  At least once per day during high use times, the Actiontec becomes completely unresponsive to login requests.

Last, the network is unsecure as many users in this hotel just cannot grasp entering an access key.  This leads to everyone in the surrounding area gaining access to the network and, in my opinion, abusing it.

Thus, I'm hoping someone can tell me the 'parts' they are using in a similar configuration so I can start determining the best course of action for cleaning up the mess that I've inherited.

Many thanks to any and all who are willing to throw me a life vest. :-)
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LaserSpot

You could get Hotspot style access points. These have their own logon system that's easier to use than WPA & WEP. One example is the ZyXEL G-4100 Wireless Hotspot Gateway
You also need something that can do bandwidth limiting/traffic shaping.

Take a look at this open-source firmware: http://coova.org/wiki/index.php/CoovaAP
You can reprogram a $50 Linksys to have these features.
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I like LaserSpot's ideas just for the economical aspect.

But even if you do nothing else you should implement WPA-PSK [AES+TKIP].

If necessary, use a digital camera and a paint program to paste up a sheet showing how to enter the keys on a couple different sample interfaces on a windows machine and on a mac. Laminate them and put them in the rooms with the other info sheets like the room service menu or list of local restaurants. Change the key, say, every monday. Either print it on their receipt or have it on a separate card, and it should be one of the essential pieces of info available to whoever answers the phones from the rooms.
Just the fact they're stealing bandwidth the hotel pays for should be able to convince anyone who has to ok it that securing your network is a must. Let alone the illegal things some people do with internet access they're not responsible for.
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chuckycharms
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Hi guys!  Thanks for the input.  I'm looking at the various solutions and will post back asap.
You're welcome. The ZyXEL G-4100 comes with a little thermal printer that uses calculator type paper. You press a button on the printer and it spits out a random username and password that you hand to the guest. You can set how many days/weeks before the random accounts expire.

If you don't need random accounts and tickets, the Coova firmware is simpler.
LaserSpot,

With this particular hotel, it's 4 floors of rooms (some 36 rooms).  I can't imagine a single unit would cover the entire premises.  Today, in every other room there is either a Cisco or Linksys access point.  I certainly believe that they are overlapping, so will check on this situation immediately.

With this unit, I have the budget for it and like the concept.  Just trying to determine what is needed for all areas?  Is this unit going to replace the Actiontec router (which is in a basement and adjacent to the demarcation point for the phone company).  Would this unit go above ground and daisy-chained off the Actiontec unit (so that the Actiontec plays only the role of DSL modem)?

Thanks much.  We're getting closer!
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No, you're right. I didn't read it all the way through. I read another article one time that recommended using channels 1, 4, 8, & 11. Searching for it, I pulled this up and assumed that it was recommending the same setup.

I recently was troubleshooting a network with 4 APs all on channel 6; changing channels helped eliminate almost all the deadspots.
While I do not yet have the issues resolved, I am going to proceed with closure of the question and use the information from all of you as guidance.  I would have preferred to keep the question open until I can get an answer (so that everyone else out there could benefit), but I cannot test/resolve everything until the last week in April (the hotel closes for break, so i can do my testing/adjustments then).

Thanks for the guidance and advice.