WiFi is essential for Airbnb rentals but also has risks for the hosts

When Airbnb advertises a property the listing includes a classification of the property WiFi. Airbnb considers a WiFi hotspot service to be an essential requirement for all properties, and classifies WiFi speeds into categories. Airbnb provides an app for hosts to measure the WiFi Internet speed and allows each host to publish the WiFi Internet speed at the property. Airbnb has a feature called “Verified WiFi,” which lets renters check the WiFi speed in a property before booking. The table of Internet download speeds shown below is taken from the Airbnb website. The table does not show the upload speed or the latency (delay) of the WiFi service.

Table - WiFi download speed only What it means for you

Any hospitality service, motel, hotel, B&B or Airbnb will benefit from having a good WiFi service available as most guests consider WiFi to be very important. Hotels have a higher occupation rate when good WiFi is available, and when a guest posts a review on the Internet the quality of the WiFi is generally at the top of the list. The same applies to an Airbnb rental; good WiFi availability will attract more guests and increase the revenue for the host.

However the Airbnb host has several risks when providing WiFi for guests.

  1. If the guest is sharing copyrighted files then the Airbnb owner will become a target for a DMCA takedown notice. This means that the copyright owner has identified the IP address if the Internet service and has issued a complaint to the ISP. The ISP then has to advise the customer that sharing of copyrighted material must stop or else the Internet service will be disconnected.
  2. Giving the same encryption key to each guest will eventually mean that key is shared with the neighborhood, providing free Internet for all at the expense of the Airbnb host.
  3. Ensure that guests do not have physical access to the Internet router or WiFi equipment, keep in a locked closet. Eventually a guest will reset the equipment to factory defaults and can then login and configure the equipment.
  4. The guest may tamper with the Internet router for malicious reasons such as installing router software with code that collects and forwards information from subsequent guests. Hackers use software called openWRT that can be installed on most wireless routers and can be easily modified for malicious purposes. This can be done without the knowledge of the Airbnb host.
  5. If a guest has tampered with the WiFi equipment then subsequent guests are at risk of having information stolen, which is turn is a risk for the host as the information theft may result in a lawsuit for the host.

So it is essential that the host provides WiFi for guests, but the host is at risk when providing WiFi. However there is a compromise, the host can provide a managed WiFi service that will protect both the guest and the host.

Managed WiFi requires the installation of a low cost Internet Hotspot equipment between the guest and the Internet service. The Internet Hotspot equipment has the following features.

  1. Provide remote cloud management so that the host can manage and monitor the WiFi service without going to the property, essential for hosts that have multiple properties as all properties can be managed through one cloud account.
  2. Create a unique WiFi access code for each guest that is valid only for the guest stay. This code is generated remotely via the cloud service and then sent to the guest email after booking confirmation. The access code is in addition to the encryption key.
  3. Hosts can manage the WiFi service using many control parameters; for example they can determine how many people can use the service, or set the maximum data speeds per user.
  4. The host can customize the login page and use it to sell advertising to local stores, pizza delivery, etc.
  5. A firewall blocks guest access to the Internet router to prevent tampering. The firewall also blocks Torrent software that guests use to share copyrighted files.
  6. The host can monitor the guest Internet use, including the number of devices connected. Monitoring is remote using the cloud account to check for abuse, and can block a guest access to the Internet if necessary.
  7. The host can monitor the Internet equipment and Internet connection for failure, and receive an alert if a failure occurs and the guest has no Internet access.
  8. The host can get a second ISP circuit and share the guest Internet access between two circuits. This increases the Internet speed for the guests and also improves the Internet reliability because when one ISP circuit fails the guest continues with Internet over the second circuit.

Any Guest Internet product can be installed to provide the managed WiFi service and protect both guests and host. Guest Internet has wireless products that can be installed, remember to disable the Internet router WiFi. Alternatively the host can install a Guest Internet gateway that has two WAN connections for two ISPs and can have several wireless access points connected. Remember to log the Internet and WiFi equipment in a closet or cupboard to prevent physical tampering of the equipment.

 

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