Our routers could broadcast an SSID called “Free wifi hotspot” or some such. This would display a captive portal which would advertise the Althea service, and also provide a low bandwidth free connection. This could be good advertising. Further down the line we could also add Boingo like functionality to sell directly to client devices.
So I think we can just configure multiple networks per device in /etc/config/wireless and get an extra 2.4 and 5ghz ssid to work with without depriving the user of anything.
Actually that brings up an interesting question, can we have an ad-hoc interface on top of an ap interface and get the wifi meshing for ‘free’? Totally different subject though. Also probably not worth it.
So after that there’s already plenty of captive portal software for openwrt, we just need our own landing page and some standard tricks to limit bandwidth.
There’s a sort of existential problem with this though, sharing bandwidth has a fixed, finite cost to the user, so a free network won’t really be free to the host. They would have to be allowed to configure an amount in dollars to ‘give’ away per month.
I was thinking of a related use case where the “Free wifi hotspot” is more like “West Manchester Community Network”. This could be set by the sub-dao, or maybe not. It might be better to setup two daos, one for paying clients and one for the free wifi network. Nodes could opt in or out by joining that dao. If they could set limits or throttle as needed to serve paying traffic that might be beneficial. The portal could have links to local services (no exit node routing, so cheaper). Possibly the page could have some “Sponsored By” ad.
@ttk2 I dig the wireless meshing of client devices for redundancy sake and coolness factor… it seems only in the scenario of a node being disconnected from the internet and any wired mesh but still could connect over wireless to another node, would the wireless meshing be somewhat useful.
However, providing options for wireless meshing and a free community network might win over a lot of people in the space.
So there are two strategies to what we call ‘client device sales’ (selling to phones) either you take an existing captive portal system and just plug it in. Or you build a native client for phones with all the vpn bells and whistles but probably without automatic switching (since that will mostly happen when you move around anyway)
Right now the agreement is to do the native client once the resources are available, obviously if people want airport style wifi portals they can plug in a box downstream of Althea and maybe change the branding.
I actually finished this feature, under the hood of the routers it’s actually possible to run a home access point, a mesh connection, and a captive portal/public access point all at once on the same hardware.
Obviously like I said there’s no software to back he captive portal but running it in parallel on the same wifi hardware is a solved problem. ‘Free meshing’ is integrated and you just have to flip it on for supported devices.