FirstSpot® - FAQ Topics
For technical questions, please refer to our technical FAQ.

    General


  1. • No authentication mechanism
    • No access control support (such as timeout, logout)
    • No exception free web sites
    • No usage reporting for billing, tracking
    • No mechanism to charge users (e.g. credit card)
    • No way to push personalized content (e.g. advertisement) to end-users
    • The Wi-Fi hotspot owners or operators need to prevent themselves from liable for the network abuse. Even for free access, the operators usually want to present a web page and require the end user to accept a user agreement. There are metering and tracking requirements for Public WLAN service providers in some countries as well.

  2. Most of them support Wi-Fi Hotspots in a very limited way. This architecture has the following problems:
    • You are tied to that particular WLAN AP manufacturer. We believe that AP vendor should focus on what they do best, which is radio frequency excellence.
    • This kind of WLAN AP Hotspots support is usually distributed in nature. You cannot manage the WLAN AP in a centralized way.
    • It does not cater for growth. Since most of the information such as user accounts or customized web pages reside in the WLAN AP itself, you have to upgrade every single WLAN AP for any change.
    • Last but not the least, cost. Since this kind of AP is proprietary in nature, the cost per AP is quite a bit higher than the standard WLAN AP. In fact, you will find out that expansion cost increases dramatically when you need to add APs (i.e. when your hotspots become successful and popular). The economics for this kind of proprietary AP punish your success and it just doesn't make sense for most Wi-Fi Hotspots owners (see point 11 “What WLAN AP does FirstSpot® support?” for more details).

  3. In most cases, you sacrifice the ownership of your “airspace”. You will have much less flexibility on the welcome page (such as deleting their logos, including your own logo). Also, the service providers or aggregators will need to charge considerable access fee (to make profit) to the end-users, which limits the usefulness of the whole Wi-Fi Hotspot. Instead, FirstSpot® gives you unprecedented control over your Wi-Fi Hotspots.

  4. FirstSpot® features and technology


  5. • Hotels
    • Coffee Shops
    • Conference Centers
    • Internet Café
    • Universities and other education premises
    • Airports, Terminals, Public Transport premises
    • Shopping Malls
    • Business Centers
    • Multi-Tenant Units (MTU)
    • Enterprise that wants to provide guest access
    • ISP / Wireless ISP (WISP)
    • Operators of any visitor-based network or Wi-Fi Hotspots

  6. FirstSpot® is the number one Windows-based hotspot software in the world. FirstSpot® has been in development since 2002 and other product in the market cannot match our feature richness and proven track record. Also, we believe that utilizing a standard PC hardware with familiar Windows environment will give you much better control.

  7. There are many. Some of them are:
    • By using standard PC hardware, you wouldn’t be trapped with a proprietary, expensive hardware. Once your Wi-Fi Hotspot becomes popular and you need to upgrade the capacity, it is often difficult and costly to upgrade the proprietary hardware box.
    • It is much more flexible. You can put in any web site content in the PC, and you can even put in streaming video/audio content. We call this “local content”.
    • The familiar Windows environment gives you a head start without learning other platforms.
    • You can “try before you buy”. Just download the FirstSpot® trial version before committing. Try to obtain a free hardware box for a trial. :-)

    FirstSpot® (Windows)

    Linux

    Hardware

    Ease-of-use

    Easy

    Difficult

    Difficult

    Customization

    Easy

    Difficult

    Impossible

    Price

    Inexpensive

    Inexpensive

    Expensive

    WLAN AP

    Neutral

    Neutral

    Proprietary, tie to specific brand

    Hardware Upgrade

    Easy

    Medium, often involve reconfiguring Linux

    Expensive and limited

    802.11 standard upgrade

    No action

    No action

    Need to wait for upgrade from manufacturer

    Local Content (e.g. stream data on-site)

    Yes

    Yes

    No


  8. FirstSpot® uses MAC address to identify and maintain session information. MAC-address session handling is more secure than IP-based session handling. Consider the following test :
    1) user A with IP 192.168.0.7 logins to gain access
    2) user A shutdowns the machine
    3) user B sets the IP to 192.168.0.7 (which is very easy), user B now gains access
    As you can see, IP-based session handling has some limitations.

  9. No. Proxy is a bottleneck to the whole network is not recommended for hotspots. Also, proxy-based solution limits you to only a few applications (such as web only) and it significantly limits the usefulness of the hotspot. As FirstSpot® is not based on proxy technology, it will provide access to ALL applications (e.g. Email, Web, Instant Messaging, Audio, and more...) after the client logins

  10. User accounts are stored in an embedded ODBC datasource. You can change the ODBC datasource to a server-based SQL such as MySQL or SQL Server. Alternatively, FirstSpot® v3 (or later) supports RADIUS protocol. Normally, you should only use RADIUS Authentication Mode if you have another NAS (Network Access Server) that supports RADIUS.

  11. A feature that allows some web sites to be “free”(i.e. without forced login page). FirstSpot® allows you to specify Exception Free Web Site in domain keyword format. The advantage of specifying host (i.e. domain name) keywords format is that it allows you to specifying all the sub-domains for a particular domain. It is very difficult to get all the IP addresses of all the sub-domains. For example, if you want the user to freely access all Yahoo web sites (i.e. www.yahoo.com, uk.yahoo.com, au.yahoo.com …), instead of building a list of IP addresses of all yahoo web sites (which is difficult if not impossible), just specify “yahoo.com” in the FirstSpot® setting.
    (FirstSpot® does allow you to specify IP addresses in addition to domain name keywords as well)

  12. The nice thing about FirstSpot® is that it is AP neutral. In fact, you can take advantage of a cheaper "thin" vanilla AP (note that the WAN port within AP is not used) to keep the cost down. At the time of this writing (June, 2003), this kind of AP is sold for as low as US$40 (e.g. Netgear MR814). The saving really adds up if you deploy more than one AP, which is quite common since each AP only cover a small area. Keep in mind that FirstSpot® will take care of DHCP, DNS and NAT so all you need is an AP that sends out WLAN signal! In fact, you need to make sure that you turn off the WLAN AP's DHCP server as it will conflict with the DHCP server within FirstSpot®.

  13. A Patronsoft-invented, user-friendly FirstSpot® feature that allows end-user to type a keyword (e.g. “logout”) in the browser to perform some specific action (e.g. bring up the logout screen). Refer to FirstSpot® Demo for details.

  14. Both distributed and centralized network topologies. You can put FirstSpot® on-site, or deploy FirstSpot® remotely. Please click here for details.

  15. The technique that forces unauthenticated users to a web portal (“capture” the users and redirect them to a “portal”) for authentication. Captive Portal allows you to leverage a web browser to authenticate without installing any client software in the PC.

  16. No. FirstSpot® is completely browser-based.

  17. FirstSpot®'s idle timeout handling is both efficient and accurate. It will only timeout users if they are idle (i.e. no network traffic) for a specific amount of time. Also, there are no "keep alive" packets sent from browser to FirstSpot® (which will degrade network performance).

  18. All of them. As FirstSpot® is completely protocol neutral, you do not even need to touch FirstSpot® when you change or upgrade your APs. In fact, FirstSpot® can work with Ethernet as well as Wi-Fi.

  19. FirstSpot® v8 can run on Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10 as well as Windows server like 2008 and 2012. Please refer to our requirements page for more information.

  20. FirstSpot® is 100% developed in house. It is not based on any open source project.

  21. Absolutely not. We are not against open source. We are against people charging for open source software without contributing back to the community. If you want open source software, just download it for free.

  22. Pricing


  23. FirstSpot® is based on simple server-based pricing. It is an unlimited user license (no more concurrent or named users limit!) that gives you much better flexibility to structure the Wi-Fi Hotspot access package. Click here for details. Also, visit here for feature comparison among different FirstSpot® editions.

  24. No. FirstSpot® web portion is written in PHP/HTML and can be easily customized.

  25. PatronSoft is a technology provider, period. We do not own your network in any way. We believe the "airspace" ownership should belong to the premises owner and no one else.

  26. Partnership


  27. Of course! We welcome all channel inquires. Please see here for details.