Captive Portal Management

Next-generation Captive Portal Management with all access methods and a icon-based survey functionality that is ideal for onboarding users with Smartphones.

From IT-tool to Business tool

captive portal management 2001 and now

Back in 2001 when we founded Aptilo, the Wi-Fi service management was a tool for the IT-department. Our captive portals blocked Internet access to charge customers before getting them online.

All that have changed. Sure, the login page is still there. But, now it is primarily a business tool. It’s all about getting insights about your guests and better engage with them online. Over time Wi-Fi monetization have gone from being direct to indirect.

Captive portal use cases

A captive portal is a web page that users must view and interact with before getting access to the Internet. What triggers a re-direct to the captive portal from the access gateway can vary:

  • The user is unknown and needs to sign-up and pay for the service.
  • Users has depleted their prepaid quota and needs to make a top-up.
  • Aptilo SMP has automatically authenticated the user through e.g. SIM-authentication, but the user still need to approve a daily charge for the Wi-Fi service.
  • For Wi-Fi marketing purposes, a user needs to see an advert or sponsored message before getting access.
  • Users need to give consent for use of their personal data.
  • Onboard certificates/profiles for secure EAP-TLS authentication (for 802.1x networks).
  • A user wants to change the service e.g. to increase the bandwidth for video-on-demand.

Captive portal template framework

We are using the latest web-technology and flexible REST-based APIs towards Aptilo Service Management Platform™ (SMP). This ensures a future-proof solution. Our Wi-Fi captive portal framework supports all the complex user journey flows required for a first class Wi-Fi service.

The captive portal in Aptilo SMP works hand-in-hand with our portal management tool. We have moved the complexity and web development code into captive portal templates. Only the objects and texts defined as editable, are available in the admin interface. This allows anyone, even someone with no web development skills, to administrate the captive portal.

Learn more in the portal management section of this page.

Supports all authentication and payment options

An important part of the end-user experience is the login process. Aptilo 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 we haven’t already delivered in our 100+ carrier Wi-Fi deployments.

Authentication and payment methods in Aptilo SMP include:

The Aptilo SMP can also produce CDR’s for post-paid billing.

Gateways without captive portal support

Using captive portal technology is a must for prepaid services with online sign-up models. Also, it is a powerful tool for providing differentiated services in real-time. But, far from all gateways have support for captive portals. Some gateways, designed for high performance, do not include a web server function. As a result, they are not able to redirect a user to the captive portal.

The Aptilo SMP can bridge this deficiency. It can detect an unknown user or device and then send an IP redirection profile to the gateway. The gateway then redirects the user’s traffic to the captive portal. Alternatively, Aptilo SMP can redirect users and devices with a so-called CoA request (Change of Authorization).

Aptilo SMP can also provide other web server-related functions such as support for WiSPr login.

Use Aptilo’s built-in portal or any existing external portal

Use the pre-integrated captive portals in Aptilo SMP. Or, use any existing or third-party captive portal. You can integrate using the same REST-based APIs towards Aptilo SMP as we do for our own portals. You can even keep your existing web portals and use Aptilo’s payment and portal logic in a hybrid deployment. However, the proven Aptilo captive portal solution is a cost-effective alternative that works in concert with Aptilo SMP.


Have you ever tried to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot running with your Smartphone in one hand and your bag in the other? Then you will love our new survey functionality!

We have done a “mobile first” design for the survey access method, so that users can answer questions by clicking on icons. Something you can do with just one hand.

Aptilo Captive Portal survey functionality with simplified user experience using icons

The old school says that you should design captive portals with a single page and no scrolling. The survey functionality in  Aptilo SMP  enables a different approach that goes contrary to this old truth.

The new approach is to split the steps needed to get online into several screens. The user just click one icon per page, swiftly moving on to the next. One of our customers got 15% more users completing the login process just over night using this approach instead of the traditional. Since the survey has support for Wi-Fi Marketing with banner adverts, this meant 15% more revenue for them.

In fact, going through the six screens may be as many clicks as it is to just write the users first name, so compared to the previous design, it is much easier.


Aptilo Capive Portal Survey Supported types of questions

We have made the effort to include all the types of questions that we think you need (please let us now if something is lacking):

  • Multi-choice text.
  • Multi-choice using customized icons.
  • Single choice text.
  • Custom icons single-choice.
  • Syntax verified e-mail or phone.
  • Single-choice drop down.
  • Single-choice scale.
  • Free text.
  • Display text – used for information, not a question.
  • Single-choice action banners used for ads similar to our captive portal banners.

A question can be market as mandatory. It is also possible to apply languages for each question. The icons are files in standard graphical formats that can be uploaded to the corresponding answer.

For the multi- and single choice questions it is also possible to add an additional question to cover answers that are not represented in the choices. This question can be free text or a drop down. This feature can be used in a very flexible way. For instance, represent the 6 most common countries with flag symbols and have a dropdown to cover all other countries.

A survey is a chain of questions

Questions can be re-used in multiple surveys as a survey is simply a chain of a number of questions in a certain order.


Aptili Captive Portal Survey Carousel

Most users understand that they have to give away something in order to get a free Wi-Fi service. So they will gladly fill in the survey if it is short enough and they don’t have to fill it in again next time they access your Wi-Fi service.

Our survey carousel elegantly addresses both these issues. You can add as many surveys as you like, in the order you like, so that the user never have to experience the same survey twice. This way you don’t have to be eager and can keep each survey as short as possible, getting a little bit of information each time. When the last survey in the carousel have been used, the user must choose a different access method or you can optionally choose to restart the survey carousel again.

Survey is an excellent tool to get valuable information from users. Don’t forget that privacy matters and that there are very strong laws e.g. the European GDPR around handling of personal data. We suggest that you always use the Aptilo consent & personal data management functions in combination with surveys.


We have a dedicated database for survey data and it is also possible to share the data with external third-party systems.

Captive portal management–have it your way!

Most people associate a captive portal with the graphical look and feel. But, what’s equally important for the end-result is the business logic underneath. And, this is where the Aptilo Service Management Platform™ (SMP) shines.

Captive Portal management

It’s also a common misunderstanding that a captive portal is only one simple page. Most of the time it is a flow of several pages. The pages shown may dependend on a user’s selection of services or policies triggered from external systems. The logic must also contain error handling and sometimes it needs to interact with other systems via APIs.

Many cloud-based providers of guest Wi-Fi services offer captive portal management where the business customers can create their own captive portals. The content management system (CMS) used often requires some web development skills. While the look of the portal can be changed, the logic and user-flow is normally the same.

In our experience, there’s just no ‘one-size-fits-all’.

Portal management–anyone can do it!

We have a different approach. Only the objects and texts defined as editable in the template, are available in the simplified admin GUI. This brings several advantages:

  • The complex web development and logic is moved into the templates.
  • It is easy to maintain a consistent branding and still allow for some local adaptations.
  • Templates can be created for different verticals and use cases.

Captive Portal Management

Anyone, can replace an existing picture or text. Only a selected few can design a portal from scratch in a CMS system. No matter how user friendly it is. Our captive portal management GUI is designed so that anyone can make modifications to the portal. The administrator needs zero knowledge about web page design. The business customer can administrate the portals themselves. For instance, a hotel restaurant manager can easily advertise “the special of the day” in the restaurant.

Administrators at each business customer can define sub-administrators at and below their position in the zone tree. This means that changes in the portals can be delegated down to a single location.

Captive portal management–any language and always mobile-first

Both the admin GUI and the templates supports multiple languages. Additional languages can be easily added at any time.

Our captive portal templates are always “mobile-first”, because smartphone designs are more challenging. Above all, these type of devices are also most common at venues. All portals are adaptive to larger screens.

Captive portal management–user engagement

For businesses who want to create their own announcements or adverts, the captive portal management GUI will be just right. They can also use the ability to schedule activation of a portal change at a certain time. This feature is ideal for e.g. stadiums that have different events going on throughout the year.

Our Wi-Fi marketing features go way beyond updating a captive portal. Use our built-in banner management or integrate with advertising networks. It is also possible to send e-mails or SMS to users, based on their location.

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