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Supplying staff with mobile Internet access

I have a wired Ethernet network with static IP addressing in place and subscribe to Internet access through my ISP who gave me one assigned IP address. I need to give Internet Access to my staff that are mobile with laptops. How can I achieve this?
There are two ways that I can interpret your question:
1) Your staff wants to use wireless laptops for mobile Internet access while still at your office. In that case, you can:

  1. Add a wireless AP to your LAN and let laptops continue use the same static IPs (whether they are wired or wireless), or

  2. Add a wireless gateway to your LAN and let those laptops use dynamic IPs assigned by the DHCP server in the gateway.

Either way, be sure to maintain the security of your office LAN when adding wireless LAN access.

2) Your staff wants to use wireless laptops for Internet access while out of the office. In that case, you can subscribe to a wireless WAN or LAN service. To choose a service and provider, consider where your staff needs access and why.

  1. If your staff needs short transactions (like sending and receiving email messages) on a near-continuous basis, then consider a wireless WAN service. Look for "3G" mobile data services offered by cellular providers like AT&T wireless, Sprint PCS, and T-Mobile. Consider coverage area, usage-based fees, and effective throughput (with today's services, similar to v.90 dialup.)
  2. If your staff needs higher-speed access once or twice a day, then consider subscribing to a wireless LAN service. Companies like Boingo, iPass, and T-Mobile will let your staff use 802.11 hotspots in cafes, hotels, and airports they visit. Workers will have to go to a hotspot, but will have LAN-like access when they find one. You can purchase a monthly subscription or "pay as you go."

You only asked about Internet access, but if your staff also needs secure Intranet access, you'll want to consider using some type of VPN tunneling between wireless laptops and your office Internet gateway.

This was last published in January 2003

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