Connect WiFi Phone to Authenticated Hotspot

Trick the Router

The first generation WiFi phones don’t have Internet browsers. This is more than just an inconvenience because it renders the phone useless with authenticated hotspots. However, there is a way to overcome this problem.

An authenticated hotspot is a public hotspot like those found at Starbucks, MacDonalds or most airports that requires a browser based authentication. Such hotspots are never encrypted which means that anyone can connect to them. Once connected the wireless router’s hotspot firmware requires either a user name/password combination or a credit card in order to allow Internet access. A phone without a built in browser can not go through the authentication process even if you have the user name and password.

Getting unauthorized access to the Internet is another subject altogether. What we’re interested is a legit WiFi phone connection through an authenticated hotspot.

The trick is to connect and authenticate with a laptop with a forged MAC ID first. The fake MAC ID must be the MAC ID of the wireless SIP phone. Once you do this your phone will work fine.

From the router’s perspective you connect and authenticate a device, lose a connection and reconnect again. The router has no idea that the second time you’re connecting with a different device (the phone).

An interesting thing is that in most cases you can have two devices with same MAC IDs connected at the same time. You could be talking on the phone and browsing the net on the laptop. This technique is often used by hackers to gain Internet access by capturing an unsuspecting wireless user’s MAC ID.

Windows

MAC ID is not as permanent as you may think it is. It can be changed. One simple way to do this in Windows is by using a free MAC Address Changer utility from Void Nish
With this utility you can enter your phone’s MAC ID and later restore it to your real MAC ID.

The steps:

  1. Change the MAC ID on your laptop to match the WiFi phone’s MAC ID.
  2. With the WiFi phone powered off connect to the hotspot with the laptop. Authenticate with your credentials or use a credit card to purchase a connection.
  3. Disconnect the laptop from the hotspot and power up your phone. The phone will connect to the Internet in place of the laptop.
  4. Restore your laptop’s original MAC ID.

Linux

There are several ways of doing this in Linux as well. I tested this method with Nokia N770 but it could possibly work with Mac’s with some modifications. Your N770 will need some add-ons like X-Terminal and Root Access.

The steps:

  1. Start X-Terminal.
  2. Type “sudo gainroot” to gain root level access (“sudo su”on Ubuntu).
  3. Type “ifconfig wlan0 hw ether nn:nn:nn:nn:nn” (where nn:nn:nn:nn:nn is your phone’s MAC ID.
  4. With the WiFi phone powered off connect to the hotspot with the N770. Authenticate with your credentials or use a credit card to purchase a connection.
  5. Disconnect the N770 from the hotspot and power up your phone. The phone will connect to the Internet in place of N770.
  6. Restore your N770’s original MAC ID (it helps if you wrote down the original ID).

With some basic Linux skills you can write a bash script to “fake” and “unfake” the MAC ID. With a script the whole process takes just a second to complete.

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