Using multiple wireless devices in hotels

Many early adopters are now accumulating multiple devices that can connect to the Internet. These can include a laptop (and possibly a second laptop for a spouse or other partner), wireless-capable PDA, voice-over-IP phone adapter or telephone, handheld gaming consoles, etc. When traveling, it is now advantageous to carry a router or even a wireless router.

A router allows sharing of the single ethernet connection available at many hotels. An ethernet hub won’t work where there is a daily fee to be paid for Internet access because usually the connection will only support one IP or MAC address. Also, wireless capability may be required for some of the devices which only contain a wireless network adapter.

However, some hotels are now moving to wi-fi for Internet connectivity. This can create a problem where one wants to share the connection among multiple devices because there is no longer an ethernet port to plug the router into. Also, some Internet devices (such as a VOIP adapter from Vonage or another VOIP service provider) will only work if connected to an ethernet port. So what’s the solution. Well, one option is to also take along a wireless game adapter. An example is the US Robotics 5430 Wireless Bridge but others should work just as well. These are commonly used to connect a gaming console (such as a GameCube) with an ethernet network adapter wirelessly to a home access point. They can also be used to connect an access point (with or without wireless capabilities) to another access point. So the hotel’s wireless connection is converted back to a wired connection for the router to plug into. The router can then share that connection both wirelessly and through the four ethernet ports commonly available on such routers.

Unfortunately, the wireless game adapters typically must be reconfigured for each new access point they associate with and so it is not possible to simply take along a pre-configured solution. Some minor configuration work will be required at the destination.