Cash is obviously the easiest payment method but the router can integrate with credit cards and has predefined configuration pages for Authorize.net, iValidate.net, Secure Pay and PayPal. From here on the router keeps track on their session and kicks them off when the time is up. From the status screen you can see who is logged in, when they started their session and when it will finish. Unused accounts show up here as well and you can decide on how many hours or days they remain active before being automatically deleted. The Keypad option appears to be redundant as this is designed to link up with a separate ten-digit serial port keypad, which links to the printer but it appears SMC no longer sells this.
Move to the Advanced Setup page and it becomes clear how many features the router has on tap. Pass Through uses a list of web sites that can be accessed without authentication and devices can also be made exempt by adding their IP or MAC addresses to the same list. Filtering lets you block access to specific sites but this can also apply to IP address ranges as well. Certain resources on the LAN can be made available to authenticated users and you can add up to ten URLs that will appear in the client’s browser and could be used as advertising links. You can also use the walled garden where you add up to ten links in the main portal page, which users can visit prior to authentication. Usefully, you can incorporate an information web page where they can check on their remaining session time.
Basic bandwidth management tools are provided where you can set a maximum upload and download limit in Kbps and these values will be applied to every user. Account logging provides a list of all user accounts including those that have expired along with charging details, payment method and when they logged in. Current users can also be viewed and selected ones disconnected if required. Security also extends to administrative access as you can restrict this to a specific range of IP addresses and add three other system accounts that provide limited access to the router’s status pages and settings.
SMC offers a simple solution for providing wireless hotspot services with a range of payment methods. It’s still a little pricey but is particularly easy to set up and use, provides good accounting facilities and is better value bundle than ZyXEL’s G-4100 hotspot, which costs around £100 more.