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What Is an Internet Gateway and Why Do You Need One?

What Is an Internet Gateway and Why Do You Need One?

Hotels, apartments, student housing facilities, retirement homes, all of these properties rely on the presence of internet networks to provide services and take care of daily needs. With the ever-growing need for online access as a result of trends such as IoT, cloud computing and remote-based work, demands for larger, more robust network infrastructure has never been higher.

Property Managers are often faced with juggling an endless array of network hardware components and configurations on top of having to deal with growing cybersecurity risks. Therefore, property operators are seeking out solutions promising enhanced simplicity.

This is where network gateway devices come in. Not only do they promise streamlined operations without sacrificing performance and functionality, but more advanced gateways can even boost internet service quality and network capabilities — as long as business stakeholders know which features to look out for.

But what is an internet gateway? And how do you find the best one for your property’s needs? Keep reading for our guide to this integral network component.

What Is an Internet Gateway?

Before diving into all the various features and advantages that a modern gateway can provide, property managers and staff first need to understand what the device is and where it fits into a property’s overall network infrastructure.

As the name implies, a gateway serves as the bridge connecting two or more separate networks and ensuring the seamless flow of information, regardless of any difference in communication protocols that either network may deploy to exchange data. The gateway is what connects a property’s internal network of devices and systems to the internet via the internet service provider.

Often referred to as the hardware that sits at the core of a property’s network, gateways and their various capabilities can ultimately have a major impact over data transmission speeds, reliability, performance, flexibility, and security as a result.

Gateway vs. Routers vs. Modem: Understanding the Key Differences

Many consumers are more familiar with modems and routers when it comes to enabling internet access and WiFi connectivity, so trying to understand where and how an internet gateway fits in can understandably be a little confusing.

To make things easier, a modem or router is provided by the internet service provider, falls under their responsibility, is fully managed by them, and simply provides open access to the internet. A gateway is managed by the property or their IT company and controls the user experience for the internet access on that property. With more details included on each in the next section the gateway can provide several high-value services including the deploying of network login pages and payment processing abilities. A gateway can also fairly distribute bandwidth amongst users, throttle bandwidth for each user or groups or users, aggregate multiple internet circuits, offer intrusion detection and prevention, as well as block unsafe or inappropriate content.

A gateway is a critical component to running a professional public-access or centrally-managed network, such as in a hotel, public venue, or luxury apartment. Not every gateway is equal, and their feature sets vary greatly. Which gateway is correct depends on individual needs and priorities, and what the best approach is to obtaining and managing internet access. This is due to several key advantages, which include the need to purchase only a single piece of hardware versus two (or more), as well as the ability to streamline any troubleshooting due to the capabilities of the chosen gateway.

The Benefits of Internet Gateways

The advantages of adopting a gateway truly shine when considering the vast range of features and functionalities that this single component of advanced network hardware can include:

Advanced cybersecurity protection

As the network component responsible for managing all communication and data traffic flowing between a property’s devices and the internet, a gateway’s online security capabilities can play a critical role in minimizing potential vulnerabilities.

Again bypassing the need to purchase various bits of hardware and software, just one gateway device can simultaneously act as a firewall, anti-virus, intrusion detection, anti-spam, and deep package inspection (DPI) service – an advanced process examining the content of data packets being sent back and forth between the internet and devices connected to a network. When combined and made available in one platform, businesses can be much more confident in their ability to proactively eliminate any threats.

Content filtering

While most of a building’s network users seek internet access for legitimate purposes, there always exists a small risk that some users may try to participate in unsafe or even illegal behavior. Examples include visiting dangerous or illegal websites and downloading illegal content.

By adopting a WiFi gateway platform featuring content filtering abilities, property managers can automatically prevent network users from needlessly exposing themselves and others to security risks while also minimizing any potential liability that a business could potentially face.

Bandwidth throttling/load balancing

With large numbers of users and devices often simultaneously vying for network resources, the amount of available bandwidth can often become scarce, especially when a user or device is using more than their fair share.

Advanced network gateways can sidestep these issues using preset limits on how much bandwidth is allowed to be provided to each user or device. This prevents any bandwidth-intensive activities from impacting and reducing the quality of online experiences for other users.

Tiered WiFi options

For properties aiming to generate revenue from their WiFi service, internet gateways and their ability to support more than one network provide an ideal opportunity to monetize online connectivity.

While most properties should always first cater to widespread expectations for free WiFi access, properties leveraging a gateway that enables the running of multiple networks can charge fees for users wishing to access a faster connection.

Advertising capabilities

Utilizing a network gateway as an advanced tool to push ads and promotions to network users is another way to increase a property’s potential profitability even further. This can include the use of captive portal webpages and web banners that place a property’s various amenities and service offerings front and center in the minds of network users. Using a hotel as an example, this can include promoting loyalty programs, dinner plans, guided tour experiences, fitness classes, and much more.

Payment processing

For properties managing multiple types of payments on a daily basis such as hotels and apartment complexes, an advanced gateway solution can serve as a powerful tool to effectively handle these tasks.

Via an intuitive dashboard, managers and staff can easily view, analyze, and respond to transaction data in real time. Using enhanced reporting and alerts, personnel can also further respond to any issues while gaining the ability to make informed decisions that result in enhanced business growth.

What to Consider When Comparing Internet Gateway Options

To get the most out of your network hardware investment, the search for an effective gateway solution should take several factors into account. With a property’s staff often stretched thin, business operators should also compare how various gateway devices and their providers can maintain reliable performance along with the ability to resolve any arising issues — without the need to pull in multiple onsite employees needed for other tasks.

Such enhanced value capabilities to look for include:

Comprehensive and intuitive interface

Regardless of whether a staff member is an expert technician or an inexperienced front desk employee, a network gateway’s interface should be designed to provide users with effortless interaction for all essential monitoring and configuration functions. This ensures that a property’s network can swiftly be reconfigured without the risk of making unintended errors.

Streamlining the Management of Multiple Gateways Businesses that run either a large building or a portfolio of properties are likely to be managing multiple gateway devices for their various networks. Such a wide range of network logins, configurations, and performance monitoring tasks can prove to be complex for their IT staff.

Gateway solutions that are compatible and accessible via an integrated gateway device management system can effectively address this issue. This provides staff with a single user-friendly dashboard where they can easily access, configure, and oversee the performance of multiple gateways and their associated networks in real time.

24/7 managed WiFi

Reputable network solution providers can also offer the option for customers to have their software and equipment remotely monitored by specialized technicians. In the face of the tech talent shortage, partnering with a network gateway solution provider that also offers managed WiFi services can fill in the gap.

Managed WiFi personnel can always be counted on to consistently monitor for any performance and security issues, ensuring a swift and effective response that minimizes any potential damage or dips in WiFi service quality.

Enhancing End User Experiences with Industry-Leading Gateway Technology

From hotels and resorts to college dormitories and nursing homes, internet gateway platforms are proving to be essential in maintaining heightened service quality, security, and efficient operations.

Representing the industry’s latest advances in network technology innovation is the FUSION Gateway system by Hotel Internet Services. Engineered to be suitable for virtually any type of building environment or property portfolio regardless of size, FUSION effortlessly streamlines internet service network management while ensuring consistently fast speeds, enhanced reliability, and maximum online security. An all-in-one device able to replace more than six network

Ruckus Elite

components, FUSION serves as an affordable yet state-of-the art solution able to simultaneously provide advanced cyberattack prevention, equitable bandwidth resource sharing, content filtering, as well as tiered WiFi services, advertising and payment processing capabilities. The FUSION can also serve as a DHCP server, authentication gateway, web server and much more.

Ready to take your property’s network capabilities and efficiency to the next level while cutting down on operational costs? Learn more about FUSION and why our gateway solution continues to represent the ultimate in network technology innovation.

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