The late Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs had a vision of open, shared Wi-Fi to allow users to connect to the Internet without the need for “sluggish” cellular service, by getting as many Wi-Fi router manufacturers as possible to include a “guest” option in their routers.
Walt Mossberg, via re/code:
Jobs said he understood the need for security, but he was determined to figure out a way to make free, safe, Wi-Fi sharing from homes and small local businesses not only possible, but common. He even told me that he planned to get other companies involved, in a sort of consortium, to make this happen.
Users on the guest network wouldn’t have access to the actual owner’s main network, printers, computers, or files on the main network, but they would be able to access the Internet as long as they were in the router’s range.
Mossberg notes that while a public consortium for home Wi-Fi sharing never emerged, Apple and other wireless router makers have since built a guest network option into their wireless routers.
Mossberg checked with a “big-name home router manufacturer” for an estimate as to how many of its customers had set up such a guest network, and the answer was an approximate guess of 15-20%.
If you’d like to setup a guest network of your own with your AirPort Extreme, Apple does make it relatively easy to set up a guest network. There is a clearly marked field labeled “Enable Guest Network” under the “Wireless” tab in its AirPort utility app for Macs and iOS devices. (As seen above.) While other settings may need to be adjusted, instructions are available here, and here.