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Restrictions on allowing customers w/i wireless radius to use network?


I am considering the possibility of enhancing our wireles network capacity to allow customers within the radius of our wireless network free usage for marketing purposes.

May questions arise, however the immediate one is regulatory restrictions on such an action. Would this be cosidered lawful? What are the restrictions limiting this sort of action? Would it be considered a form of piracy to allow outside users 'free-internet' access in return for marketing exposure?

Thank you for reply.


Re: Restrictions on allowing customers w/i wireless radius to us

There are several variables that may or may not apply.

What are the terms of service from yor provider ?

If you offer filtered services (i.e., no porn) then you can (if you are in the USA) be sued if someone gets an eyefull they don't like.

This was the case some time ago; Prodigy said they fitered, Compuserve said they didn't - it's up to the custoemr to filter.

Both were eventually sued, Prodigy lost, because they said they'd filter and didn't, Compuserve won, because they said up fron that the end-user is responsible fr filtering.

There amy also be some local regulations, depending on your area.

What if someone uses your free link to download / upload some kiddie porn? What if someone uses it to uplink a massive batch of spam (you could be blacklisted)?

Were you going to allow client-to-client communication? What if someone gets hacked while connected and decides *you* or your organization are using the system for hacking?

Were you going to have any flavor of registeration? Maybe a Web front-end (" Register for Free Service") which would also possibly generate some leads for you, and give you the opportunity to present a couple meg of disclaimer material that may or may not cover your butt from the thundering herd of lawyers just waiting to take everything you own.

Good Luck



Re: Restrictions on allowing customers w/i wireless radius to us

Scott has a lot of important things to consider listed. I agree with him that you must make sure you know what you are getting yourself into. My thoughts to add are:

1. I would highly recommend some sort of bandwidth limiting. Unless you have an unlimited pipe to the Internet, someone will try to run bittorrent and chew up your bandwidth.

2. I would definitely disallow peer-to-peer communications on your wireless to avoid security issues Scott mentioned. (if you use wireless for VoIP, this will be a problem. you cannot currently disable peer-to-peer on a per SSID basis).

3. You need to have a good disclaimer page. If you have a lawyer, I would put the task to them to see what you have to include to protect yourself. If you are using LWAPP APs, you can use the built-in capabilities to present a splash page with your terms and an accept button. You can do this without having to do user authentication.

4. I agree with Scott about not claiming to filter, but if there are any schools nearby, or even kids living nearby, you may be at risk if you do not filter. My customers go different ways on this one. Some filter and say they filter. Some do not say they filter, but do anyways. Some leave it wide open. This is a liability question you need to work out with someone who knows more about the law than I do.

5. You absolutely should restrict available ports. I have set up public hotspots for many public sector organizations, particularly schools. We always restrict ports, usually just to http, https, and DNS, and sometimes VPN. Do not allow SMTP unless you want to be blacklisted. Spammers are starting to use open WiFi networks more and more to send untraceable spam.

6. As Scott mentioned, make sure your ISP is ok with it. If you have business service, it should not be a problem. If you are using residential DSL or Cable modem, they almost all forbid sharing your connection.


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