15 May 2011

Creating virtual interfaces on a router

Have you ever wondered how a wi-fi hotspot in a coffee restaurant nearby works or is created? The second question is at what cost? We will come to that later on, first lets explore the possibility of creating a wi-fi access point for public use.
It would be practically stupid of someone to take a broadband connection just for public consumption at your own expense, not practical even if you give it on chargeable basis. What can be done is creation of two networks - private (encrypted and password protected) and public (open network). You might have encountered virtual office, virtual server, cloud computing.. but might have less heard about a virtual interface ! Though virtual servers have virtual interfaces, you can just create such an interface using DD-WRT firmware for routers. Then you can use the virtual access point for public use , which can be an open network (without password). You may think why would you provide free internet to others when you are paying the bill? We will come to that later too..

Creating virtual interface
First you need a broadband connection with a router that supports DD-WRT firmware.
With DD-WRT, you can create two or more virtual interfaces to create multiple Access Points (AP). Its simple, goto the router settings accessible at and go to Wireless tab. Under the basic settings, you have an option to create a virtual interface. Click Add, name the SSID and keep AP isolation disabled.
Save your settings, now you are done, as simple as that.

You can choose to password protect it or keep it as an open network via the "Wireless Security" tab .

Now if you go to the network connection are, you can see the SSID being broadcasted.

Why provide free internet for public?
Now coming to the point of why free internet to public! There are many service providers who provide free wi-fi hotspots around the world to its members, and can earn money by letting non-members use the services. One of them is FON.  Its a beautiful concept of creating a network of wi-fi access sharing members across the world , of the same community. Since its a network of members across the world, wherever you go, all you need to do is login with your membership and use free internet.
The bandwidth you share is negligible and wont hardly affect your work. For more details visit the site
Image courtesy: FON (C)
Lend your bandwidth
What happens in a coffee shop is such networks, which are made available to non-members for a nominal price. DD-WRT has done a great job by integrating it with a service provider called Sputnik. It can be found in your router settings at Services >> Hotspot.

Here basically, you have a variety of choices. You can provide free internet, broadcast your product over wi-fi (as you normally see at Cafe Coffee day etc) , offer/ lend your bandwidth for a nominal price. You can broadcast your services to let other wi-fi enabled devices know about your services too.
Image courtesy: Sputnik (C)

Whatever be the reason you took a broadband connection, i believe that unless you share it with the society.. its a waste. Be it for earning some income, as a social service or ads campaign. The choice however is entirely yours.

To know more on how to create a free internet service , read here
If you dont want your file to be shared in your public network, learn how to create a private network here


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