HotSpot Software by Antamedia
The hassles of setting up Wi-Fi
The traditional method of providing Wi-Fi involved setting up routers along with your internet connection, and using a bunch of other expensive and complicated internet. All of this hassle was required to just get a few users connected to the internet. A single error in anything would actually lead to the entire network coming down- that is how unstable an improperly set WiFi is. In addition to that, setting it up is another hassle in itself.
Technology has changed since then, and you do not need to be a network engineer for setting up WiFi anymore. All you need is a PC and a software that can accomplish that. HotSpot Software by AntaMedia is one that claims to be just that- but how good is it really? Let us dive into it to find that out.
In simple words, the HotSpot Software is a tool that you can download and install on your PC, and then use it to provide Wi-FI through that PC’s internet connection to anyone in range. What makes this a good choice is that you do not need any complicated wires, routers and other equipment for getting started. Just download and install HotSpot Software on your internet enabled PC, and starting giving Wi-Fi to anyone you want to. The minimum requirements are a PC that has at least 2 GB Ram, a CPU of 2GHz and 2 network cards.
Granting and revoking access is highly simplified with HotSpot Software. You can set the number of paid as well as free user devices that will connect to the particular hotspot. This helps to conserve bandwidth as well as resources in an easy to implement method. Depending on your requirements, there are 4 different plans to choose from.
Pricing and Plans
The Lite Plan, priced at $199, allows you to only have 20 online users at a time. However, if you are looking for an unlimited number of users to be able to use the Hotspot, then you have to choose from either of the Standard, Premium and Enterprise plans, priced at $349, $499 and $799 respectively. The Standard plan comes with real-time stats and reports. In addition to that, the Premium plan also gives you the capability of collecting your customer’s data, URL filtration and tracking. A step above is the Enterprise plan, which along with all other features, also lets you create a hostpot on the Cloud by the use of Routers and Radius. All these plans, including the Lite one, let you control upload/download, bandwidth and time.
However, contrary to what it may sound like, the HotSpot Software is only installed and configured in 1 PC, and the settings cannot be accessed anywhere else via the cloud. The license can be transferred to another PC in case you ever change your system. However, for that, you will have to provide sufficient documentation to show that you have purchased a new machine.
If you multiple hotspots running in a single network, then you can make them all connected to the same database as well. This means that no matter where you customer creates his internet account, he will be able to use its time and bandwidth in any access point within your network. Resorts make use of this by providing cables in every room, and access points in the lobby, restaurants etc. However, this is a separate add on for all plans.
It is worth mentioning here that the price of the licenses are to purchase the software for life- once purchased, you do not have to pay anything else to use HotSpot Software. No monthly billings are involved. In addition to all of that, if you want to setup a paid Wi-Fi, then you can even do that by choosing from any of the 70+ payment gateways. There are no extra fees for accepting payments via credit card.
The advantages of HotSpot Software
The first advantage that every user gets with HotSpot Software is that it does not require any customized hardware. Most users connected to the internet already have access points, routers as well as any other network equipment. Any type of existing network equipment will work perfectly with the HotSpot Software. All that has to be done in this is routing of the devices via the hotspot server that is running the HotSpot Software.
The client/customer using the hotspot does not require any special software to be installed on the device. Customers can be asked to sign in as well as pay on the login screen. HotSpot Software is compatible with all operating systems and internet browsers in the market. The Login Pages can be customized depending on the location of the Wi-Fi. You can set it up to provide free Wi-Fi in one room, charge for the same at other locations and so on. Special retailer pages for shopping mal;s and a Facebook like page for cafes, all of these can be done by just using HotSpot Software.
The most impressive thing about HotSpot Software is how it gives user such a diversified control, without requiring any complicated setups. For instance, you can set it up to give access to users who like your Facebook page or post about it in their wall. The hotspot can be configured for limiting free access by time, bandwidth, daily or monthly number of logins, intervals between lengthy sessions and expiry after a certain period.
Further, in addition to that, HotSpot Software allows for creation of tickets and passes to provide certain users with a specific type of internet plan. It is capable of creating plans by customizing every parameter- including data usage quota, number of total logins, a certain time period, expiry date, logout after inactivity and a lot more. If you want to charge users by a certain parameter- such as the time or bandwidth used, pricing can be set and the accounts can be charged when the customer refills.
While it allows the admin or owner to have sufficient control, using Wi-Fi is made transparent over the other end as well. There is a dedicated customer portal, by which your users can see the status of their account. It includes the data usage, day of last usage, bandwidth that is available for use, expiration and remaining time. Any personal information can be updated here, and the users can their plans and add more bandwidth from it. A usage report that can be fully customized is also available here.
While HotSpot Software is not a very complicated tool to use, the number of options and menus is huge. It takes a while to get used to the tool, and you will find yourself lost in the first few days. To aid you with that, there is a setup wizard that helps to you configure the most important options without too much hassle. The wizard in HotSpot Software enables sharing of internet connection via the HotSpot NAT. You are given all necessary instructions on configuration of devices in your network. All of this lets you start service using HotSpot Software in the fastest possible manner.
Add-Ons for more functionality
An add-on that HotSpot Software offers is accepting credit cards as a mode of payment for Wi-Fi. You can use over 70 different gateways for payments. The process is secured and automated, with support for PayPal. You can purchase the Credit Card Payment Module separately for whatever edition of the tool you are using. However, for users who are using the Enterprise Edition priced at $799, the ability to accept credit cards and all other payment gateways is already included in the package.
Another add-on is the Hotel PMS interface, ideal for hotels and lodges. With this, you can help your guests setup with the internet process, and add the charges to their room. The interfaces that are supported in this are the InnQuest, Operat, KingSmart and Protel. In case you wish to add any other interface, then you just have to request HotSpot Software for that.
The ability to get real-time usage details and statistics is what makes this one of the most powerful HotSpot tools out there. You can check which users have logged on, for how long is a particular user on the network, the bandwidth, timestamps and a lot more. Every second, the activity of your customers, bound to their IP and MAC addresses, is recorded and monitored. Premium and Enterprise plans are the only ones that offer this feature.
In many countries and territories, regulation of the internet and monitoring required. The filtration of URL s, logging of he webpages visited and user records all help you to comply with these regulations. There is a Web Filter in the HotSpot Software, which has more than 2.5 million domains that have been categorized into more than 90 different sections. This is useful if you wish to block or redirect any unwanted website on your hotspot, such as drugs, adult, gambling, virus infected sites, phishing etc. This, however, is only present in the Enterprise Edition.
You can not only block certain sites, but also allow access to certain websites without requiring any authentication. Many organizations make access to their company website free on their Wi-Fi. You can whitelist certain devices based on their IP and MAC address, so that they can use your hotspot without requiring any authentication.
In addition to all the above features, there are also a couple of add on features. You can add image as well as video ads on the Wi-Fi HotSpot pages, and provide free access to those users who view certain ads. It even allows you to add coupons on the startup page after a customer enters his/her name and email ID. Further, you can even include a short survey to get answers.
The Verdict- is it worth it?
Overall, the list of features and functions that HotSpot has is very extensive, and there is not a lot left to ask for. The $799+add ons package is just a little too expensive for some users. For a small shop or store, the entire software may be expensive, considering that the cheapest plan costs $199 and only lets you have 20 user. However, if you do have a long-term requirement, then the licenses may be worth it, since they are lifetime.
There is not a lot to complain or as for in the HotSpot software. Depending on the edition and plan you go for, you will get complete access to who uses your WiFi, for how much time/bandwidth and for doing what activities. It is to be remembered here that the tool only provides the features- how effective and robust your WiFi will be also depends on the hardware that you use. Thus, provided you are powering the WiFi with sufficient access points and good quality hardware, HotSpot Software should be the only thing that you need to get the job done.
- Makes setting up and management of Wi-Fi simple and efficient
- Paid as well as free access can be granted to users
- Complete monitoring of the users data and time online
- Multiple access points can be configured in the same network
- Real time stats and reports allow for greater control over the internet
- The purchased licenses are valid lifetime
- The Hotspot cannot be managed over the cloud or outside the network
- A few essential features are not a part of the package and only available online