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DD-WRT: Share Hotel’s limited WiFi with unlimited devices

While we hear about free WiFi for public, roaming on the road and window shopping in malls, hotels still charge for WiFi. What’s more they charge per device! To my surprise, 3 star hotels give free WiFi (speed is debatable ;-)) but 5+ star hotels charge for it or restrict it to a one or couple of devices.

At such a hotel, you will be typically given the SSID of the WiFi, a login (usually the room number) and a password. The WiFi will not be password protected (aka open). But once you connect to the WiFi, you will be taken to a login page. Without filling a username and password (given by the hotel) at this login page, you will not be able to browse the web or download your emails. With the per device restriction, you will be able to connect to the Internet only from the device from which you log in on the login page. So as long as the hotel system sees one or the permissible no. of devices connected, you are good to go. So how to get around this?

Earlier during one of vacations I was caught unaware by the per device charges. So I ended up doing something complicated as follows:

If the hotel had provided a wired connection, it would be simple to plug in a router whose WAN port is connected to the hotel’s network. Then your devices (phones and laptops) can connect to this router. The hotel system will always see only one device connected, i.e. the router. Unfortunately the hotel may not provide a wired connection. So what do you do?

But what if a router could connect to the hotel’s connection using WiFi on the WAN side? This will simply the setup. And this is where DDWRT, with its “Client Wireless Mode” feature,comes to rescue. In brief, DD-WRT is a firmware for WiFi routers which imparts many additional features (like Client Wireless Mode) to the router. Once setup, the DDWRT router can connect to the hotel’s WiFi on the WAN side. Your devices (phones and laptops) can in turn connect to the router using the local WiFi (see below) or wired connection to the router.

With the above possibility in place, I went prepared for my recent 4 days vacation to a 5 star hotel with restricted WiFi. I carried my old Dlink router (model: DIR-615 C2) with DDWRT (version v24-sp2 (03/25/13)) installed on it. And it worked! The hotel placed a restriction on two devices and I enjoyed Internet on 6 devices. Cool? Then following is how to setup DDWRT for the case mentioned above.

Connect your laptop to the router using a Ethernet cable and launch the router’s admin interface in your web browser. In my case, the admin interface was accessible at http://192.168.1.1. The IP may differ in your case (refer to DDWRT website). I was first prompted to setup a new username and password for the router. Setup your preferred username and password, when prompted.

Next, on the top menu, click on Setup. When prompted, type in the router username and password in the popup, that you have set above. Under Basic Setup, for Local IP Address under Router IP, type in an IP which does not conflict with the hotel’s IP. I used the IP 192.168.153.1. You can ensure this by temporarily connecting to the hotel’s WiFi. Once connected to the WiFi you can see the IP (assigned to you by the hotel) in the network configuration. The command line way of doing this is to issue ifconfig or ipconfig on Linux and Windows respectively. Note: do not login even if you see the login page, not yet.

In my case, I used the following for Router IP:

Local IP Address: 192.168.153.1
Subnet Mask: 255.255.255.0
Gateway: 192.168.153.1
Local DNS: 192.168.153.1

Click on the Save button.

Next, click on Wireless (on the  menu). For the Wireless Mode, click Client. For Wireless Network Name (SSID), type in the SSID of the hotel’s WiFi.

Under Virtual Interfaces (on the same page), click on Add. Type in a SSID of your choice, for example Local. This will be the SSID that your devices (phones or laptops) will connect to.Click on Save.

Next, click on Setup>Mac Address Clone. Under Mac Clone, click on Enable. Click on Apply Settings. Apply Settings will apply all the above configuration.

Now, first connect one (only one) of your mobile phones or laptops to the local WiFi network (Local in my case). Once connected, browse to any website (say http://www.shekhargovindarajan.com). You will be taken the login page of the hotel. Type in the username and password provided by the hotel. Once logged in, connect your other devices to the Local WiFi (not the hotel’s WiFi) and enjoy unrestricted browsing!

Note: In case you are not able to browse, trying pinging the IP 8.8.8.8 on your laptop. If you are able to ping the IP but not able to browse websites, click on Services and ensure that DNSMasq is set to enabled. If you are still not able to browse, under Setup>Basic Setup, set 8.8.8.8 for Local DNS.

“Internet is like electricity for me at a hotel. I need it all the all the time – for me, for my family and for my family of devices” — Shekhar Govindarajan

 

 

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2 comments for “DD-WRT: Share Hotel’s limited WiFi with unlimited devices”

  1. RT @shekharg: New Blog Post – DD-WRT: Share Hotel’s limited WiFi with unlimited devices http://t.co/WxmJhuRyRi http://t.co/qndd7O1BsM

    Posted by vinodunny | September 20, 2015, 7:02 am
  2. RT @shekharg: New Blog Post – DD-WRT: Share Hotel’s limited WiFi with unlimited devices http://t.co/WxmJhuRyRi http://t.co/qndd7O1BsM

    Posted by sharat_j | September 20, 2015, 12:44 pm

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