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Many hotels these days still have pretty dreadful Wifi. Often the worst offender is the "you still only have one Wifi device, right?" assumption; you get a username/password combo, and using it on device B when device A is already logged in either boots you off device A, or fails on login.

What I'd like is a nice portable solution that takes the Wifi connection, and "re-shares" it via another stable Wifi SSID in my room (yes, I assume this requires two Wifi chipsets) so that I can connect from multiple devices. Is such a thing possible? There are plenty of guides on sharing Ethernet to Wifi, or vice versa, but I can't find anything that covers Wifi-to-Wifi.

To be more specific, I normally travel with:

  • A MacBook
  • An iPhone
  • An iPad

(although it would be most useful to have a solution that doesn't specifically depend on any one of those).

So what I'd like is a gadget that has two Wifi connections - one so that it can connect to the hotel wifi, and another to re-broadcast it via an access point under my control. The gadget can be software (runs on a device like one of the above), or hardware (a separate access point/router/etc. that I carry around)

Requirements:

  • The ability to login via a web console - the usecase I'm trying to solve here typically requires that.
  • Inbuilt NAT/DHCP etc. so the gadget manages the "re-shared" Wifi network.

Nice to haves:

  • Re-shares the wifi connection securely (WPA etc.) so that only I can connect.
  • Doesn't require an extra AC adapter
  • The ability to connect an Ethernet cable instead for stone-age hotels that still don't have Wifi (I think just this is easier to solve, since something like an Airport Express will do this - but that doesn't solve the original Wifi-to-Wifi case).
  • The ability to emit regular keepalives of some sort to stop the hotel Wifi connection dying, being lost etc. if I don't use it for a while - they are often unreliable and disconnect easily.

Is such a thing possible? Does it exist? Can I construct one? Alternatively, can I purchase one outright? How would I pick something appropriate and what should I look for?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Ethernet to WiFi sharing can be done through OS X. Instructions here:

http://www.maclife.com/article/howtos/how_share_your_wireless_internet_connection_ethernet

As for WiFi to WiFi, using an additional WiFi dongle connected to the laptop would probably be easiest, but it may be possible to share the connection over the iPad or iPhone's USB cable if they're jailbroken. I think apps exist for this, but I'm not sure as don't own an iOS device. If it is possible, you could connect to the network using the iDevice, share that connection to the laptop, and then share that connection over WiFi again.

The simplest solution however is to buy something like this wireless repeater:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=33-704-049

That will take an ethernet or WiFi connection and share it over wireless. This solution is the most expensive, but it doesn't depend on any of your existing devices to work.

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1  
As I added hardware-rec tag to the question, I noted the comment: Hardware recommendation posts should discuss how to make hardware decisions for oneself. Direct shopping recommendations are off-topic and will be closed, so be very careful posting hardware recommendations. –  sm4rk0 Feb 19 '13 at 22:24
    
Thanks. The USB dongle option might work, although the potential amount of software configuration might put me off. The wireless repeater sounds promising though; I didn't think that did what I was asking for, but after reading the Wikipedia article on it I think it does: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_repeater. Will check that out. –  Andrew Ferrier Feb 19 '13 at 22:25
    
@sm4rk0, thanks, made a few edits to the Q accordingly. –  Andrew Ferrier Feb 19 '13 at 22:28
    
@Peter B, would a wireless repeater/range extender still allow me to log into the original network via the web? –  Andrew Ferrier Feb 19 '13 at 22:29
1  
@AndrewFerrier, yes, that's even easier. Sorry for complicating it... From Wiki: as far as the original router or access point is concerned only the repeater MAC is connected - that's all you need in case of this kind of network. –  sm4rk0 Feb 19 '13 at 22:46

One solution is to buy a USB Wireless adapter with "soft(ware) AP" (AP stands for "access point") feature. It's up to you to find it, as it's forbidden per SuperUser rules to be specific with which device to buy.

Note: Be sure to check if this feature is supported on your operating system.

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Well, I haven't tried it with wireless connections, but it definitelly works with wired connections.

The whole idea is having two independent LAN cards on one computer which is going to share the internet with the other. One LAN card is accepting an internet connection from a modem (assuming we don't have a router, otherwise we would simply connect the second computer to that). The other card shares the internet connection with the second computer.

This was exactly the case back in the analog 56K modem era when we had one connection and shared it via LAN. One had to manually configure the second LAN so that the IP address of computer A is the gateway of computer B and vice versa. The DNS servers should be set to those of ISP in both computers. So when you browse the internet and the browser tries to resolve the IP address of the given URL it will ask for it in the DNS IP address. It will see that this is available in the first LAN card and it will forward the data to that like the first computer would ask for the data. There is no way for the hotel's router to find out another computer is browsing the internet, it will appear like having opened multiple browser windows or tabs in the first computer.

In your case, the situation is similar. All you need is a second WiFi card, probably a USB WiFi adaptor. You connect to the hotel network via one of the cards (I would use the computer's card as it has better reception than most USB adapters) and you create an ad hoc wireless network using the second card. Ad hoc is a network peer-to-peer that is without any access point between the computers. I'm not sure if this would work automatically though, most likely you have to manually set the IP etc. If I remember correctly, in MacOS you go to Settings, Network and find the wireless adapter.

  1. Then change the IP to, say, 192.168.1.1 for the first computer. The subnet mask should be 255.255.255.0 the gateway is the IP of the second device, say 192.168.1.2 and the DNS those of ISP. There should be a way to see which DNS servers are automatically assigned to your internet connection. Google it, I'm not familiar with MacOS. For example, if you visit Greece and connect via Otenet (or Conn-x); the DNS are 195.170.1.1 and 195.170.2.2

  2. At the second device you also manually set the IP to 192.168.1.2, subnet mask 255.255.255.0 and gateway is the first computer 192.168.1.1 sharing the internet connection. In some cases you can set the DNS the same with the gateway (192.168.1.1) and have internet without any problem, but it doesn't always work, so you better set those to ISP servers.

  3. At the third device you set another IP address, say 192.168.1.3, again subnet mask is 255.255.255.0 and gateway is of course the computer sharing the internet, i.e. 192.168.1.1 DNS are again set to those of ISP.

If done properly, each device can have internet using a single internet connection on the host computer (that with the two WiFi cards). Of course you must later set again automatic (DHCP) settings or you won't be able to connect to any other wireless network!

Needless to say that this ad hoc wireless network will be assigned a name (SSID) eg George and all other devices should try to connect to George, not the hotel's network! Unfortunatelly, I'm not familiar with MacOS to assist you setting up the ad hoc network, just Google it.

I hope that helped!

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Please, can you split up this wall of text into several logical sections. Its very hard to read –  nixda Aug 16 '13 at 22:52

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