Hospitality with WiFiA couple of weeks ago my son and I shared the purchase of a used smartphone. His old phone was a smartphone look-alike but with no data capabilities, and it had begun to randomly shut off, even while talking. So we decided to get the smartphone for use on our AT&T Wireless family plan as a phone, and then he could use the smartphone capabilities over WiFi at home and school.

It didn’t quite work out that way.

AT&T “discovered” his phone (no one was hiding anything) and automatically added a $30 per month data plan to our bill. It was for our protection, they said, so that we would not accidentally incur large data charges. I was incensed, but trapped due to coverage where I live and by the limited number of non-smartphones that are still available. So I cut his plan back to the minimum $20 per month, 300 MB plan, and moved on.

When the carriers charge what I consider to be exorbitant fees for unwanted data, and when the most irrelevant phone apps use considerable data, access to free WiFi becomes like a drink of cool water to a weary traveler. WiFi access is the new hospitality. Mixing metaphors, providing WiFi is like offering shelter and protection from robbers.

After thinking about this over the past week or so, its reality came to fruition last evening. We had some teenage house guests over with my nephew and after they had been here for a while one of them sheepishly asked, “Can we have the code for the WiFi?” I felt shame at that question. I had given them supper and a place to stay for the night, but I had not provided them with free data access for their mobile phones.

I have learned my lesson. From now on I will offer WiFi access just like I offer food, drink and shelter.

You can offer access at your home or business in several ways with a secured WiFi network. The options may vary depending on your equipment. Do maintain a secure network for your own protection.

1.       Share your WEP or WPA key. This gives “permanent” access to your guest. Businesses can set up a public WiFi router and then post the key in their lobby or conference rooms.

2.       Use the WiFi Protected Setup (WPS) button on your router. When the button is pressed your guest can scan for the WiFi and be given access. This access is similar to providing your key but doesn’t actually share it with your guest. This works for house guests but not for business.

3.       Set up guest access. This is a separate link to your WiFi that doesn’t require a key. This is simplest for your guests, but anyone, even passersby, will be able to use your WiFi. This may work for businesses that can set up a public router and for home hospitality If you turn the feature off when you have no guests.


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