Routers that can help you share
Use multiple devices on a single
The Linksys WTR54GS is
an excellent way of sharing a hotel's (or any other place)
internet connection among multiple devices.
This is part of a series on
how to share internet access. See related articles
listed on the right.
When sharing a single internet
connection 'invisibly' you need special hardware in order to do
There are a number of ways to
use ordinary routers for this purpose, and there are also some
dedicated routers that have the capability built in to them as
Achieving such a result will
probably cost you about $100, and requires you to travel with
only one or two relatively small and lightweight devices.
In return, you will probably recoup their cost within a very few
days of internet access.
We also discuss various
wireless data type solutions also available to you.
An Easy Way of Sharing Wired
If you are going to be
accessing the internet in a hotel (or anywhere else) via an
ethernet cable, you could simply bring a small router with you.
Plug the router into the room's ethernet outlet, and plug your
devices into the router, and off you go. Very simple and
If you have some devices
that require Wi-Fi access, then use a Wi-Fi router -
indeed, because most routers include Wi-Fi functionality these
days, it is almost certain that any router you get will come
with Wi-Fi built in.
The key requirement is that
any such router be able to hide each individual connected
device's MAC address (explained
in the previous part of this series) and instead show only
its own MAC address. Fortunately, most routers do that as
Routers (complete with
Wi-Fi) can be had for as little as $30 - sometimes less - these
Amazon has a wide selection to choose from.
This is an easy and simple
solution, and the cost of the router will be recouped within a single
day or so of shared connectivity.
But what say the hotel only
offers Wi-Fi, not wired, connectivity?
How to Share Wi-Fi Access
Sharing a Wi-Fi signal is
not something most normal routers can do - they generally
require their input to come from an ethernet cable.
To share a Wi-Fi signal you
need a device commonly termed a Wi-Fi repeater, but it needs to
be a special type of repeater that will do the same thing a
regular router does - it needs to allow a single Wi-Fi feed
(rather than ethernet cable) into
the repeater be then shared on out to a number of other devices,
and it needs to also use its own MAC address rather than passing
through the MAC addresses of each user device that connects to
Such devices do exist,
either as single units designed especially for that purpose, or
as clever work-arounds of units that weren't originally intended
to provide such functionality.
Note that whereas it is very
common to find regular routers (ie ones that take a wired
ethernet connection as input) that will mask individual MAC
addresses, it is not so common to find Wi-Fi repeaters that do
the same thing, and you must ensure that a repeater does indeed
offer this functionality. Clearly, if it doesn't do this,
the device is useless for your intended purpose.
An example of a clever
workaround is with two Apple Airport Express Wi-Fi routers, and
a 'crossover' type ethernet cable.
Configure one Airport
Express to 'extend wireless network to wired network' and bridge
the wireless network (no DHCP), then connect the crossover cable
to the other Airport Express, and configure it to 'create
wireless network'. And you've now created a Wi-Fi repeater
exactly as needed.
This same concept can be
used with just about any other pair of routers where one will
take an incoming Wi-Fi signal and convert it to ethernet output,
and one will take an ethernet input and convert it to an
outgoing Wi-Fi signal. An example of another such device
D-Link DWL-G730AP Wireless Pocket Router/AP
available for about $47 on Amazon.
Dedicated Single Devices
There are also devices that
will rebroadcast a Wi-Fi signal, and which will create an
independent network for Wi-Fi devices to connect to, which will
mask the different MAC addresses, and make it all look like a
single unit to the Wi-Fi service provider, even if the service
provider restricts access to only one unit.
is one such device, and costs only about $50, if you can find
one (it has been discontinued but is still widely for sale)
In terms of hardware based
solutions, this Linksys unit currently seems to be your best
choice. It can accept either ethernet or Wi-Fi inputs, it
is small, light, and simple to use, it is inexpensive, and it
does exactly what you need it to do.
Avoiding the Hotel's Internet
There's another concept that
is becoming increasingly viable, which allows you to disconnect
from the hotel's internet service entirely.
To find out about this -
using wireless data services
and sharing - please click this link.
And/or to find out about a
free program for Windows 7 to share any
incoming internet connection with other computers, please
click this link.
For information about
why you need to share a
single internet connection, please return to the first part
of this series.
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9 April 2010, last update
28 May 2011
You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.