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Access to guest networks

Jul 25, 2017

wifi captive portalNowadays, all companies provide their customers with Wi-Fi in some form or another. We find it in shopping malls, airports, restaurants, offices and even on transport. It is fair to say that Wi-Fi has become a commodity.

Most customers want to connect to Wi-Fi services in the simplest way possible. Therefore, their preferred methods of accessing them might be an open Wi-Fi network or a password posted on a poster on the wall.  However, there are certain legal and security issues that must be met by companies offering such connectivity.

The usual way of offering Wi-Fi to guests is through a captive portal.

What is a captive portal?

A captive portal is a web page that our terminal redirects to when using public Wi-Fi access before connecting us to the Internet.

The welcome page usually presents the user with various types of information which the user must interact with before being granted access to the network.

What benefits does a captive portal give you?

The main benefits from the point of view of service providers are:

  1. Protection against unauthorized Internet access

The Internet is not a secure medium. The service providers who offer connectivity services are responsible for the use being made of such access: illegal content downloads, pirating of information, etc. In order to be exempt from legal responsibility for the actions of users, the service providers require said users to accept the terms and conditions of use of the services, published in the captive portal, before being granted access.

  1. Traffic discrimination

Some service providers can allow or deny certain public network content, such as visits to competitors. But they don’t just provide Internet access; they can also offer own products/services from their private network. For this, they have to define traffic policies that prevent users from accessing other company resources, which might compromise their own security and privacy.

  1. Controlled connection

There are always some users who abuse these services by, for example, staying online for hours at a time, accessing various times a day or even connecting via several terminals at once. And they can also occupy an indeterminate bandwidth depending on the type of activity they perform on their connection.

The captive portal offers a number of mechanisms to ensure all users have adequate access: it can control connection time, the number of terminals per user, bandwidth consumption and/or per-session download speed, and even the type of traffic permitted.

  1. Data capture

A captive portal offers a number of ways to access the network: accepting the terms and conditions, filling out a form, using social-login (Facebook, Twitter), etc.

These mechanisms enable a captive portal to monitor user connections and gather information about how many people are using the service, which users visit most often (customer loyalty), which users are no longer regular visitors, and so on. And if they have filled out a form, the portal gets their email, phone number and location.

In short, it has enough data to create a customer database, which provides a company CRM with extremely useful information.

  1. Marketing and brand awareness

A captive portal is a simple mechanism for displaying corporate information and capturing user attention. Let´s not forget that the social network login or registration form provides enough information on customers to allow us to create a custom welcome page for them based on multiple parameters (age, sex, location, interests or hobbies, etc.). The advertising impact thus ceases to be impersonal and becomes targeted at a specific audience.

This latter point is what the company marketing departments using the service will be most interested in.

In addition to the fact that offering Internet access is already a competitive advantage, the benefits mentioned in points 4 and 5 are the ones most used to monetize the customer Wi-Fi network investment.

How can companies acquire captive portal services?

This type of service can go from presenting a simple static corporate image with a checkbox (for terms and conditions) to displaying a dynamic welcome page with different access options, banners and multimedia content.

Numerous providers offer a fully-equipped captive portal service with professional features and performance, where the companies advertising team can design the welcome page, the communications team can check the operability of the connections, and the marketing teams can collect data to subsequently customize publicity campaigns.

As always, Teldat is aware of market demand and offers its customers professional class access and captive portal solutions to more than satisfy all their needs in corporate settings.


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