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  1. Sharing an Internet ConnectionIssues and Opportunities
  2. Different Ways to Share
  3. Sharing Your Internet Connection with Others: Creating Your Own Public Wi-Fi Hot Spot
  4. Next: Securing Your Wireless Network
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Sharing Your Internet Connection with Others: Creating Your Own Public Wi-Fi Hot Spot

As discussed previously in this chapter, you can—if you want—configure your network so that any wireless computer in range can freely access your Internet connection. This effectively turns your network into a public Wi-Fi hot spot.

In fact, the process of publicly sharing an Internet connection is identical to that of setting up a Wi-Fi hot spot. A hot spot, after all, is just a wireless network with no wireless security set up; because you don't have to enter a network key or passphrase, any wireless computer can access the network and thus the Internet connection.

Configuring Your Wireless Router for Public Internet Access

You don't need any special equipment to set up a public wireless Internet connection; a standard wireless router and broadband modem will do the job. Here's how you make your shared Internet connection public:

  1. Set up your broadband modem and wireless router as normal.
  2. When prompted to enable wireless security, choose not to.

That's that. Without wireless security enabled, your network and Internet connection are now completely public.

Setting Up a Wi-Fi Hot Spot with a Wireless Access Point

That said, if you're creating a public Wi-Fi hot spot for commercial use—that is, with no need for typical networking functions—you don't need or particularly want a fully featured wireless router. Instead, a better choice might be a single-function wireless access point, such as the one shown in Figure 7.7. A wireless access point of this type is kind of like a wireless router without the network router functions.

Figure 7.7

Figure 7.7 D-Link's DWL-2100AP AirPlus XtremeG Wireless Access Point—for residential or commercial use.

The advantage of using a wireless access point instead of a wireless router is simplicity. It's pretty much a plug and play affair; connect an Ethernet cable between your broadband modem and the access point, power everything up, and you're good to go. There are configuration settings to tweak if you want to, but they're seldom necessary—unless you're using the device for commercial use. (When you're running a public Wi-Fi hot spot, you want some control over how the access point is used.)

It's that capability to handle commercial usage that makes a typical wireless access point more expensive than a similar wireless router. Expect to pay anywhere from $80 to $300 for a wireless access point; the higher-priced models are better suited for day-in, day-out commercial use.

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