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Hotel Internet Sharing Setup, Router, and Billing software?

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July 25, 2006 2:57:28 PM

Dear Network Experts,

i would like to ask for opinions and suggestions on regard to network wired installation for hotel that i work for and software monitoring, billing, etc.
i did searches and have familiar understanding on general networking but i have few uncertainties on my plan.
your input and response is greatly appreciated.

here is the plan.
- setting up wired access for internet service to hotel rooms
- finding bandwidth limiting/splitting software so i can distribute internet bandwidth for hotel personel use and guest use.
- finding billing system that allow guest to connect the internet from room and will be billed by hour or byte usage.

here is the currently installed scenario:
60 hotel rooms with ethernet cable and walljack already installed. the installation somehow broke down to 3 or 4 rooms going into one access panel. so after calculation, i would need to use 18 8-port switch/hub for each panel and run each switch to main panel which the server will be.

now, the problem i have are:
1. according to theory, cable length should max at 100m. can/should i use rj45 coupler to connect nearby panels so i can use less hub? my concern is connection stability.
2. eventhough i know little bit of basic networking, i don't know much about testing and making sure the connection is solid. i would like suggestions from you guys on how can i test and makesure the connection is secure especially for place that bordering on the 100m length.
3. i searched around about pc router software and i found couple recommendation from another thread. IPcop and brazilfw, is one of this software is appropriate for my setup? which is hotel and how's the customability and reability? i never used PC router, but i owned 4 overthe counter routers (1 wired netgear, 2 wireless netgear, 1 very old linksys router) all are very easy but i don't think they can handle this kind of setup, so that's why i'm looking for alternative which more solid and robust.
4. lastly is about internet billing for guest use. my boss want me to find out about software that can act like a portal so guest can access/login and billed by time or bytes. i looked on the internet but all i found so far is netopia and i don't think it's solution i want to go with. i went to many different hotels, some have simple (holiday inn, etc) and few more sophisticated way of giving guest access to internet (such as in las vegas hotel - montecarlo, venetian, belaggio). maybe i looked with the wrong phase on search engine, please help me out finding more info about this billing software.

i think that should cover all the information, and any suggestions are appreciated. Thank you much guys.

Xo Martel
nb.: you might find similar post under broadbandreports.com, pardon my intrusion if you are offended by the posting of similar nature. i'm just trying to find help.

More about : hotel internet sharing setup router billing software

July 25, 2006 3:20:32 PM

If you make it free... you'll have more customers... the majority of hotels offers free service... And as a person who speeds 26 weeks out of the year in hotels... I would never stay at a hotel that charges for internet access.
July 25, 2006 4:51:23 PM

Quote:
If you make it free... you'll have more customers... the majority of hotels offers free service... And as a person who speeds 26 weeks out of the year in hotels... I would never stay at a hotel that charges for internet access.


i would agree if i'm in the states since bandwidth is very cheap. but this setup will be for hotel in asia which internet service of 128kbps dedicated line cost from $900-$1600 per month.

it's sad i know, i went from $49.99 /month with 8mbps cap to $150.00/month with 256kbps/shared connection.

please help me :) 
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July 25, 2006 6:04:04 PM

You may have better luck using a 3rd party company to manage your system. There are a lot of them out there. I think AccessAnywhere is one of them, WayPort is another. I believe these type of companies will provide all the hardware and software you need to set up the billing side of things. I guess they just charge a monthly fee plus a percentage of the sales.

There are some software packages you can run yourself that handle the billing, accounting, bandwidth restrictions, etc. Google found quite a few. There was one in particular that had a really good feature set, but the company that made it looked kind of shady. I believe it was a Chinese developer, their website had some broken English and I couldn't reach them for presales questions. So, the software is out there, but if you want decent support, you might have to use one of the outsourced solutions.

I ended up making my own billing gateway through Paypal using a linux server running iptables, apache and mysql.
July 26, 2006 2:51:04 AM

FredWeston, do you happen to know about any open source software that handle billing?
as far as bandwidth limiting, i looked on for IPCop which seem do the firewall very well.
thanks
July 26, 2006 3:20:19 AM

On OS software, scour Sourceforge?

What country will you be working out of? Just curious :wink:

I'm guessing, if internet access is very expensive, so would be the hardware, but the labor cheap. You might do well to hire professionals for the wiring. (with respect to problem #2)

You are right, 100M is the max and you need good wiring to pull that off (see my recent troubleshooting thread - http://forumz.tomshardware.com/network/Testing-Throughp... ) Are you asking if you should use couplers to join 2 or more premade CAT5 cables together to get up to 100M? NOOOOOO000000oooooooo.......!!!!! 8O If you do, count each coupler as about 25 meters. (with respect to problem #1)

I'm guessing with 60 rooms wired, you'll be serving 5 or 10 at a time. Tourist area or biz? Maybe tourists want e-mail, but you will have a hard time competing with 20 piso/hr Filipino Internet cafe's if that's where you are :wink: Anyway, with respect to problem #3, do yourself and guests a favor and buy some new switches. They are not expensive and the environment throughout most of Asia is rough on electronics. With the few connections you will probably have at once, cheap 10/100 Mbs switches should be fine. With guests fighting over a 128 Kb line, you won't need Gb between the rooms!
July 26, 2006 6:53:55 AM

Quote:
On OS software, scour Sourceforge?

i'm curious what this one does?

Quote:

What country will you be working out of? Just curious :wink:

it's in indonesia.

Quote:

I'm guessing, if internet access is very expensive, so would be the hardware, but the labor cheap. You might do well to hire professionals for the wiring. (with respect to problem #2)

if that would be true, i'll be happy. the so call professionals has less computer hardware knowledge than me, and it's not cheap either. somehow the pricing here is based on US$ but the skill is not even closed.

Quote:

You are right, 100M is the max and you need good wiring to pull that off (see my recent troubleshooting thread - http://forumz.tomshardware.com/network/Testing-Throughp... ) Are you asking if you should use couplers to join 2 or more premade CAT5 cables together to get up to 100M? NOOOOOO000000oooooooo.......!!!!! 8O If you do, count each coupler as about 25 meters. (with respect to problem #1)

that's what i asked, i'll have consideration for coupler takes 25m performance hit. Thanks ^^

Quote:

I'm guessing with 60 rooms wired, you'll be serving 5 or 10 at a time. Tourist area or biz? Maybe tourists want e-mail, but you will have a hard time competing with 20 piso/hr Filipino Internet cafe's if that's where you are :wink: Anyway, with respect to problem #3, do yourself and guests a favor and buy some new switches. They are not expensive and the environment throughout most of Asia is rough on electronics. With the few connections you will probably have at once, cheap 10/100 Mbs switches should be fine. With guests fighting over a 128 Kb line, you won't need Gb between the rooms!

you brought up a very good point. The pricing will be reasonable, so i don't think it would be big problem. Plus we trying to bring internet into the room, instead guest having to go out few miles trying to get cheap net connection :) 
i don't quiet get what you mean by new switches?
and yes, it's true the environment is very rough here especially the salt water. i'm strugling to deal with new pc who didn't last half year because of salt mineral deposit and already ruined 2 mobos =(

Thank knudsen :) 
July 26, 2006 12:49:42 PM

Quote:
FredWeston, do you happen to know about any open source software that handle billing?
as far as bandwidth limiting, i looked on for IPCop which seem do the firewall very well.
thanks


No. You will probably need to use something more generic than IPcop if you want to do throttling and billing on the same computer. IPcop is like a whole distribution isn't it? Or is it just a package you can install on regular Linux?
July 26, 2006 6:31:28 PM

If you can continue to run wired then do so. Wireless should only be used if absolutley necessary. Too often the average computer user is useless and fiddling with wireless isn't their cup of tea(consider also weak signal strength and ridiculous amounts of bridges required).

The second tip I can give you, is to make sure you and your staff are well educated and informed on how to troubleshoot for customers who are having problems be it or wired or wireless. It is extremely annoying when
you stay at some hotel which has working internet, but just not in your room. When you call down to the desk, noone has any idea and they try to mask it by saying the most ridiculous things about the internet and all the while you almost want to laugh at them trying so hard. They tell you the manager or maintenance guy will be in tommorrow. Seeing as you'll be there for a few days, you feel hopeful. Alas you find the manager AND the maintenance man have no clue either.

So here you sit shelling out $$$ per month to provide your customers with "high speed internet" that do they not only have access to, but are left with a bad taste in their mouth after having chose your hotel specifically for the online connection.

Lastly, be careful which ISP you go through. There are still older, lower level servers run by ISPs that provide service to hotel chains. More often than not you'll find your customers not able to get their kids online with Ps2 or Xbox(due to those lovely blocked authentication protocols "DNAS" etc) as well as issues with certain offline->online PC programs.
July 28, 2006 11:37:56 AM

Quote:
On OS software, scour Sourceforge?

i'm curious what this one does?

Sourceforge is just a repository for Open Source projects. If it's free, open, and worth it's weight in salt, it's usually there.
Quote:



What country will you be working out of? Just curious :wink:

it's in indonesia.


Interesting. I've not had the pleasure to visit. The closest I've been culturally is probably Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. I lived in the Philippines for a long time and visit every few years.
Quote:



I'm guessing, if internet access is very expensive, so would be the hardware, but the labor cheap. You might do well to hire professionals for the wiring. (with respect to problem #2)

if that would be true, i'll be happy. the so call professionals has less computer hardware knowledge than me, and it's not cheap either. somehow the pricing here is based on US$ but the skill is not even closed.


Too bad, maybe purchase preterminated long patch cables and pull them through the walls. Check cnaweb.com if you are able to order from them (Ohio, don't know if they ship outside US). They are excellent quality. I'm ordering 6000' of CAT6 today.
Quote:



You are right, 100M is the max and you need good wiring to pull that off (see my recent troubleshooting thread - http://forumz.tomshardware.com/network/Testing-Throughp... ) Are you asking if you should use couplers to join 2 or more premade CAT5 cables together to get up to 100M? NOOOOOO000000oooooooo.......!!!!! 8O If you do, count each coupler as about 25 meters. (with respect to problem #1)

that's what i asked, i'll have consideration for coupler takes 25m performance hit. Thanks ^^


Maybe I exaggerate, but there is quite a signal loss and or noise pickup from cheap couplers. If you look inside one, the pairs are not twisted, so that alone makes them succeptable to noise pickup. I've had more than one of these positively isolated as the cause of problems.
Quote:



I'm guessing with 60 rooms wired, you'll be serving 5 or 10 at a time. Tourist area or biz? Maybe tourists want e-mail, but you will have a hard time competing with 20 piso/hr Filipino Internet cafe's if that's where you are :wink: Anyway, with respect to problem #3, do yourself and guests a favor and buy some new switches. They are not expensive and the environment throughout most of Asia is rough on electronics. With the few connections you will probably have at once, cheap 10/100 Mbs switches should be fine. With guests fighting over a 128 Kb line, you won't need Gb between the rooms!

you brought up a very good point. The pricing will be reasonable, so i don't think it would be big problem. Plus we trying to bring internet into the room, instead guest having to go out few miles trying to get cheap net connection :) 
i don't quiet get what you mean by new switches?
and yes, it's true the environment is very rough here especially the salt water. i'm strugling to deal with new pc who didn't last half year because of salt mineral deposit and already ruined 2 mobos =(

Thank knudsen :) 


By new switches, I mean newly purchased switched. That way they have some sort of warranty protection, but more important, they are in good condition so they do not cause problems while you are setting up. I was hoping they might last longer, but after reading about 2 mobos in a few months, I wonder :roll: I used to live in the Philippines for a long time, about 20 or 30 meters from the bay. I sure paid in terms of high end stereo equipment. What survived the salt air got it from the local power surges! Giligans Island.

Best of luck with your projects sir, if I can help, I will.
!