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Using a Wi-Fi 'repeater' device can be a good way of sharing internet access among multiple devices.

There are several different devices that offer such capability, and several different ways to approach the situation.

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Routers that can help you share internet access

Use multiple devices on a single internet account

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 so successfully.

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 standard.

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 Internet Access.

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 straightforward.

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 standard.

Routers (complete with Wi-Fi) can be had for as little as $30 - sometimes less - these days; 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 the repeater.

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.

Workaround Type Solutions

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 is the 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.

The Linksys WTR54GS 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 Entirely

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 and above 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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Originally published 9 April 2010, last update 21 Jul 2020

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

Related Articles
Using Multiple Devices on One Internet Access Account
Hardware Solutions to Share Internet Access
Wireless Internet Access sharing
Connectify free sharing software

Accessing the Internet when Traveling
Hotel Internet Access


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