Managing wireless mesh networks

Each wireless mesh access point we install is configured via www.wiana.org, which is an excellent free service that saves our clients from having to host the special configuration software themselves. At wiana.org, each subscribed organisation has a single control panel to configure all their mesh access points, and any changes they make are automatically downloaded to the mesh access points in their organisations.

The wireless mesh can be accessed in three ways:

  1. Ticketed: Unique 'tickets' can be printed out and supplied to users to allow them temporary access to a wireless network for a set period of time, after which the ticket expires. The tickets are generated by selecting options and clicking a button on the mesh control panel, which then emails the network administrator a list of single-use usernames and passwords.
  2. Unticketed: Access to the mesh can also be given using a shared username and password, which is ideal for a conference.
  3. Constant: Regular users can be given constant access to the wireless mesh by configuring the mesh control panel to always accept their laptops.

Any attempt to access websites through the wireless mesh without an authenticated username and password will automatically forward the user to the organisation's mesh login page, which can be branded accordingly. Until a correct username and password is entered, access to the mesh network is denied. Once a valid username and password has been entered, the user has full access to the Internet via the wireless mesh.

Finally, bandwidth usage can be restricted on a group basis. For example, a shared bandwidth of 512 kilobytes per second could be allocated for ticketed use with 1 megabyte per second devoted to administrators, employees and/or regular users.

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