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Easy 802.11b Wireless for Small Businesses
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4: Receive the self-install kit.

You’ll need to follow the instructions provided, but typically this means putting DSL blockers (devices that keep normal phones from interfering with your Internet connection) on your telephone, hooking up a box, known as a DSL modem, to your telephone line (without a blocker), and turning on the equipment.

5: Connect the AirPort base station.

Connect the AirPort base station to the DSL modem using an Ethernet cable and turn it on. The white lights on the base station should blink for a while, and then settle down.

6: Ready your iBook.

Open up your iBook (you’ve probably had weeks to play with it while you’ve waited for the DSL hookup), make sure that it is configured to connect to the Internet via the wireless card, and select the wireless base station that will appear, as shown in Figure 1.

Airport Admin Utility
Figure 1. Launch the AirPort Admin Utility found in the /Applications/Utilities folder of your hard drive.

7: Launch the AirPort Admin Utility.:

When the utility launches, double-click on the base station that displays. See Figure 2.

Accessing the Base Station
Figure 2. The Select Base Station window.

8: Name your base station.

Fill out the first screen of information that pops up with the name that you want the base station to have, as well as the name that you want the network to have. Be sure to also change the default password of the base station at this juncture to something that only you know. See Figure 3.

Name the Base Station
Figure 3. The Airport tab of the Base Station utility.

9: Configure Internet connectivity.

Click on the Internet tab and configure Internet connectivity based on the instructions given to you by your DSL provider. If your provider gave you a static IP address, then you should set the base station to configure itself “Manually” and put the information given to you into the fields, as shown in Figure 4.

Entering Info for your Base Station
Figure 4. If your Internet service provider gives you a static IP, then configure "Manually" as shown above. For dynamic addresses use the DHCP selection, as shown in Figure 5.



Configuring for DHCP
Figure 5.

Configuring for PPPoE Figure 6. If your provider uses PPPoE, tell the base station to connect via “PPP over Ethernet (PPPoE)” and fill out the username and password given to you by your provider.

10: Configure the base station to distribute IP address.

This step ensures that anybody who wants an address using your base station will be able to get one. You will also want to adjust the DHCP lease time to a figure that makes sense for the type of customers that you have. If you are running a coffee shop, then a 30-minute DHCP lease should be sufficient. See Figure 7.

Distributing IP addresses
Figure 7. Make sure the "Distribute IP addresses" box is checked.

Now, hit the “Update” button and save the configuration. Next, test out your connection. Assuming your connection tests out all right, you’re hooked up to the network. In fact, about all that remains is to tell your customers that you have wireless Internet access and enjoy the benefits.

Acceptable Use Policies

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Once you have set up a wireless network in a small business, you should have a set of "acceptable use" policies for your customers. You don’t have to create lengthy legal forms for this, but you should have a sign somewhere in your business that indicates what you expect your customers to use the access for, and what you find unacceptable. You can probably just use common courtesy as a basis for forming a sign that might look something like this:

We have provided wireless Internet access to you, our customers, for your use and enjoyment. We ask that you follow a few guidelines in this shared environment.
Please avoid large downloads and video streams as they will limit the bandwidth available to others. Do not access content that other customers might find offensive. The best rule of thumb for this is: don't look at anything that would embarrass you if your mom were looking over your shoulder. And above all, we require that you follow all local, state, and federal laws for Internet activity while online at this establishment.

Protecting Yourself from Hackers

If you want to connect your personal machines up to the same connection as the one that you use for the publicly accessible wireless network, you’ll need to think about protecting your machines from potential hackers. To do this, you’ll want to make sure that there is no direct way for anybody that is using the public wireless network to reach any of your computers.

The best way to protect your machines is to get two separate DSL connections from your broadband provider. The next best way is to get two public IP addresses on your broadband connection, use one for the public wireless base station, and use a gateway router that performs NAT for the other IP address. There are many such boxes on the market that are aimed at the residential market, such as SMC’s Barricade Broadband Router and NetGear’s RT311 Gateway Router.

Chart

If you want to connect your personal machines wirelessly, do not use your public base station to do so. You will not be secure doing so. Instead connect them using a second Apple base station (which serves as a gateway router itself) and make sure to use 128-bit encryption and other access controls such as a network password for your private wireless network.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, setting up a wireless network for your business is a fairly inexpensive and painless process. The only thing missing is a little "AirPort-Enabled" sticker on your door next to the VISA and MasterCard icons.

Oh, and be sure to let me know that you’ve enabled wireless access for your business. I’m always looking for new places to go, and if I can check my email from there, so much the better.

James Duncan Davidson is a freelance author, software developer, and consultant focusing on Mac OS X, Java, XML, and open source technologies. He currently resides in San Francisco, California.


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