The built-in captive portal and web self-care functionality in the Aptilo Service Management Platform™ (SMP) are the end-user facing parts of the system. A captive portal is used to force the end-user to interact with Aptilo SMP, often regarding the commercial aspects of the service. The web self-care portal enables the subscriber to manage his/her own account as well as sub-accounts if present. Instead of using the pre-integrated portal in the Aptilo SMP, you are free to use any existing or third-party captive portal using the very same REST-based APIs towards Aptilo SMP as we use for our own portal.
Captive portal use cases
A captive portal is a Web page that users in a certain state are obliged to view and interact with before access to the Internet is granted. This state of the user which triggers a re-direct to the captive portal from the access gateway can vary.
The most common scenarios are:
- The user is unknown and needs to sign-up and pay for the service.
- The prepaid quota has been depleted and the user needs to make a top-up of his account.
- A user needs to confirm a charge such as 5 USD for one day of Wi-Fi access even if he has been automatically authenticated through, for instance, SIM-authentication.
- For Wi-Fi marketing purposes, a user needs to see an advert or sponsored message before getting access.
- Bill-shock prevention, requiring a user to acknowledge that he has received information that his quota has been reached.
- A user temporarily wants to change the service e.g. to increase the bandwidth for video-on-demand.
Captive portal template framework
The use of the latest web-technology and flexible REST-based API towards Aptilo SMP provides a future proof framework to create the complex user journey flows that are required for a first class Wi-Fi service. The captive portal in Aptilo SMP works hand-in-hand with the captive portal management tool in Aptilo SMP Venue Wi-Fi Manager™ (VWM). All the complexity and web-development is hidden away in a captive portal template in Aptilo SMP. The objects and texts that have been defined as editable is then made available in the Aptilo SMP VWM user friendly captive portal management tool. This enables anyone to make changes to the portal’s look and feel without any web development skills even down to a local site.
Enabling gateways which lack captive portal support
The use of captive portal technology is a very powerful tool for providing differentiated services in real-time and a prerequisite when launching prepaid services with on-line sign-up models. However, far from all gateways have the necessary captive portal support. Some larger gateways such as the Cisco ISG and the Alcatel Lucent 7750 were designed for extremely high performance and do not include a Web server which is needed to be able to redirect a user to the captive portal.
The Aptilo Service Management Platform can bridge this deficiency. The system has the ability to detect an unknown user or device and then send an IP redirection profile to the gateway which redirects the user’s traffic to the captive portal. Known users and devices can be redirected with the same technology through a so-called CoA request (Change of Authorization).
Also, other Web server-related functions can be utilized such as enabling support for WiSPr login for Wi-Fi enabled devices through the built-in WiSPr server functionality in the Aptilo captive portal.
Captive portal supporting all authentication and payment options
An important part of the end-user experience is the login process. Aptilo Service Management Platform (SMP) provides access to the Wi-Fi service both seamlessly and through captive portals. We doubt there is a single login method or business model that we have not already delivered in a real-world deployment among our 100+ carrier Wi-Fi deployments.
Some of the available authentication and payment methods in Aptilo SMP include:
- Credit Card
- Premium SMS
- Vouchers / Scratch Cards
- Integrations with Hotel’s billing system (PMS)
- Integration with loyalty systems
- Self registration flows with or without SMS verification
- One-time-password via SMS
- Login via social media
- EAP-SIM / EAP-TTLS
- Integration with CRM or AD
The Aptilo SMP can of course also produce CDR’s for post-paid billing.
Use Aptilo’s built-in portal or any existing external portal
You are free to use any existing or third-party portals through an API to the Aptilo Service Management Platform. Service providers can even keep their existing Web portals and utilize Aptilo’s payment and Web self-care logic in a hybrid deployment.
However, the use of Aptilo’s built-in portal solution (captive portal and web self-care), which has been proven in a large number of installations worldwide and is pre-integrated with the Aptilo prepaid & charging and Aptilo SMP Venue Wi-Fi Manager is a very cost-effective alternative. You get a ready-to-go solution with the multitude of payment options mentioned above and all the captive portal management and analytics functionality needed to run a carrier-class Wi-Fi service.