Having investigated a number of options for the delivery of customer facing WiFi solutions over the past few years, one option has stood out above the rest in terms of being cost-effective, reliable and offering simple, rapid deployment options.
Open-mesh products used in conjunction with the Cloudtrax captive portal and cloud based network management system offer an easy to deploy solution with a host of features comparable with and in many cases superior to those offered by higher end solutions.
Open-mesh hardware comes almost ready to use and is completely unbranded allowing resellers the freedom to add their own branding as they choose. A limited range of access points are available with some models focusing on range whilst others are tailored to higher bandwidth applications. The units support proprietary POE which is not ideal, but in practise is usually not a major deal breaker especially when the retail price comes in at under £100!
Whilst being suitably open that you could install a firmware of your choosing on the device, by default the units are entirely configured and controlled by the Cloudtrax management portal. Cloudtrax is a free service which allows remote management of the units as well as a number of detailed reporting features and captive portal management.
Some of the more notable features include:
- Dual SSIDs (Private and public)
- Network isolation – Prevent public users accessing your local network resources
- Layer 7 Packet inspection – More than adequate usage reporting on both SSIDs
- Captive portal – With customisable login pages and redirection
- Walled garden – Allow all users to your website before logging in
- Voucher management system – A comprehensive system for selling vouchers in person or online on-demand via paypal
Other useful features
The devices each feature two ethernet ports, one for the link to your internal network and it’s WAN connection and a second which can be configured either as a link to your public SSID allowing wired clients or clients connected to further wireless routers to be managed by the systems captive portal or as a direct link to your internal network.
The Open-mesh system allows both encrypted and unencrypted mesh connections to other units within your network meaning you can extend your networks availability as quickly as you can type a mac address into the Cloudtrax portal!
Overall, the Open-mesh system enables systems installers and end users to deploy a managed wireless network for their customers with very low capital expenditure without compromising the advanced functionality of more costly alternatives.
You can try it out and fully test the portal yourself for the price of a wireless access point, so why not!