Public Wi-Fi in Korea and a Macintosh

No one in Korea uses a Macintosh. Thus, it makes perfect sense that they would not support Mac OS X in any web applications or public services, such as city-wide wireless. One such provider is Korea Telecom’s NESPOT service. This is the nearly-ubiquitous blanket of wireless that covers much of Seoul. From your Universities, to Starbucks, to Hotels, etc. It’s everywhere. And it only works on Windows. It also serves homes with wired and wireless internet access.

As it turns out, it is a very standards-based system that uses RADIUS authentication. The key to finding that out was this IEEE conference publication from World of Wireless, Mobile and Multimedia Networks, 2006. Even from the abstract one can see that NESPOT uses 802.1x authentication. In fact, if you read the article, they use this system to authentcate millions of users using very little processing power. It is probably the largest installation of 802.1x authentication in the world, or so they claim.

(Yes, you can register your MAC address with them and then you don’t need to authenticate. But then you’d have to be able to read Korean to click through the menus, and I can’t.)

Since Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther), OS X has had 802.1x support built in to the networking subsystem. All you have to do is enable MD5 authentication, enter your username and password, and blam, you are rocking. Some screenshots of 10.5 (Leopard) below:

  1. Turn on Airport
  2. Make sure you can connect to the SSID “NESPOT”. You will get an IP address, but you won’t be able to get anywhere but the NESPOT main page.
  3. Open System Preferences > Network
  4. Choose Airport, then click Advanced…
  5. Choose the 802.1x tab
  6. Click the “+” and create a new User Profile
  7. Enter your username and password
  8. Choose “NESPOT” for the Wireless Network
  9. Make sure to check the “MD5″ box in Authentication. I left TTLS and PEAP checked. I don’t know if these are necessary.
  10. Click OK
  11. Now choose the “AirPort” tab
  12. Double click on “NESPOT”
  13. Change the Security pulldown to 802.1X WEP
  14. Select the “NESPOT” user profile from the 802.1X pulldown
  15. Click Add on this dialog
  16. Click OK to close out the Advanced… dialog
  17. Then click Apply to apply your changes to the Network
  18. Now, the Airport status should say Connected, and under that, it should say something like Authenticated via MD5.
  19. If that doesn’t happen, turn off your Airport and turn it on again. You might have to go back into the Advanced… menu and edit Airport settings like from #11-#17. For some reason, my Mac forgets this security setting.

Enjoy.

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