Here is a new Technical Brief from our engineering team on…

Understanding DWC Hotstpot – Front Desk

In the past few years, Wi-Fi has been widely used in public places such as hotels, coffee-shops, airports, offices, colleges and schools, where reliable and scalable Guest Management systems are needed to help merchants manage guest accounts and to allow Wi-Fi users to visit intranet and/or Internet according to their limits of authority from the result of Captive Portal authentication. D-Link’s DWC Hotpot by Front Desk is a remarkable solution of Guest Management which helps merchants generate temporary Wi-Fi user accounts. After acquiring temporary accounts, the Wi-Fi users can access the wireless network through Captive Portal authentication against the respective authorities. This document outlines such a mechanism on the D-Link DWC-series, and since it’s generally operated by employees at a front desk location, we called this feature Hotspot by Front Desk, or simply Front Desk.


Wi-Fi access is available in a growing number of business locations and many merchants take account of wireless security to prevent unauthorized access or damage to computers connecting to the network.  Front Desk allows merchants to generate accounts, control usage, and manage access in a way of assigning expiration date/time to the auto-generated Wi-Fi access accounts for hotspot/temporary Wi-Fi users. Wi-Fi users are will perform Captive Portal authentication with their temporary accounts generated by the DWC controller according to the receptionists’ operation before being granted wireless network access. Through the Front Desk framework, network administrators can also control the amount of time of wireless usage against a given specification when the temporary captive portal accounts are created.

D-Link Hotspot by Front Desk

There are three kinds of roles mentioned in this document: (1) Wi-Fi users, who connect to the given wireless network to access to the Internet; (2) Network Administrators, who manage the infrastructure of the wireless network and provide the specification/limit-of-access-right of Wi-Fi users to the DWC; (3) Front Desk users or receptionists, who operate the DWC to generate temporary Wi-Fi accounts for captive portal authentication for their customers (Wi-Fi users).

To make the mechanism ready to work, a network administrator needs to provide one or more schemes, called Billing Profiles, to grant access rights to Wi-Fi users, such as expiration of Wi-Fi accounts once they are dynamically generated, valid duration of the accounts from the time they are used, the maximum amount of wireless traffic for each account, and so on. The network administrator also needs to set up special management accounts on the DWC for Front Desk users/receptionists, who as a result can visit the DWC via the URL:

http://<DWC_IP_address_or_domain_name>/frontdesk to generate temporary captive portal accounts in the field.

Figure 1. Login Prompt for Front Desk Users

After logging into the DWC, the receptionist can select a Billing Profile from a drop-down list as shown in Figure 2, then clicks the “Generate” button to create a temporary captive portal account for the customer. Figure 3 shows the result.

Figure 2. Selecting a Billing Profile
Figure 2. Selecting a Billing Profile
Figure 3. A Generated Temporary Account

After obtaining a temporary account for captive portal authentication and connecting to the target SSID, a Wi-Fi user then initiates an HTTP session with his/her browser and is redirected to the Captive Portal page as shown in Figure 4 for entering the temporary username/password.

Figure 4. Login Prompt of Captive Portal
Figure 4. Login Prompt of Captive Portal

A popup page showing the access information will appear as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5. Access Information

The receptionist can monitor the usage or modify the limit of usage of a specific account as shown in Figure 6 through Figure 8.

Figure 6. Monitoring Status of Temporary Accounts
Figure 7. Modifying Usage of Time (1)
Figure 8. Modifying Usage of Time (2)

Figure 9 illustrates the four states that a temporary account has by timeline.

Figure 9. Four States of a Temporary Account
Figure 9. Four States of a Temporary Account


D-Link DWC Hotpot by Front Desk is a remarkable Guest Management solution. For merchants, it’s easy to create accounts and to manage network access privileges. For Wi-Fi users, it’s easy to access the corporate intranet or public Internet with their limits of authority.