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Background:

We have 50+ agents placed at various locations throughout canada. They conduct consumer surveys at departmental stores using our inhouse built iPad app. They record consumer responses and give back to consumer a printout (A4 size) of the consent to participate in survey along with brief summary.

Problem:

Most sites either don't cooperate with our agents to provide them internet or they don't allow our printer (most of our printers are HP LaserJet M130 fw) to be on their network if they let them use the 'Guest' WiFi. For iPad printing both iPad and printer need to be on the same network. Is there any solution to it? We don't want to use cellular internet because of poor coverage and signal strength drops off frequently. So in short our agents need to be independent operative at their site without using their resources.

  • Pocket router, travel router etc. which will allow the printer and iPad to connect to each other. You have the same problem tho if you also need an internet connection as well. I carry a travel router with me to customers because my devices are all preconfigured to connect correctly. If I need internet i just plug the travel router into the customers network. Travel routers come in multiple flavors now, the upstream connection can be hardwire, another wifi network, or sometimes even cellular. – Tyson Apr 10 '17 at 13:58
  • Check out this review to see if there's anything there that may suit your scenario. As an aside, do all your agents use the same printer? If so, can you add the printer model to your question (or if there's only a few different models, add all of them to your question). – Monomeeth Apr 10 '17 at 22:59
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If you have the option of buying new printers, you can buy a portable Bluetooth printer for them to use. Using Bluetooth you're no longer dependent on any WiFi, and the iPad can use its WiFi to connect to a guest network for internet access or anything you like.

Using a Bluetooth printer is possible because you have an in-house built app. The app would require slight tweaking to support the printer.

For example you could use the HP PJ-763MFI Bluetooth printer which is created for use over Bluetooth with iOS:

https://www.brother.co.uk/mobile-printers/pocket-jet/pj-763mfi

The HP printer support A4/letter size paper.

Another option for smaller paper sizes are the popular Zebra printers that are certified for use over Bluetooth with iOS:

https://www.zebra.com/us/en/products/printers/mobile/mz-series.html

You can also find similar printers from Star and others.

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  • The reason I am bit hesitant to go with bluetooth option is its not very safe. Bluetooth encryption is less secure as compared to WiFi encryption. The consent and summary that we print contains personal details of consumers. – DickDale Apr 11 '17 at 17:40
  • I think you're thinking of old versions of the Bluetooth standard. In addition, it is possible to add your own encryption on top of the default Bluetooth encryption. Personally, I think it is an overreaction to avoid Bluetooth because you do not find it secure - it doesn't seem rational. If you're currently used to having your agents using open guest WiFi-networks at locations, that is much less secure. Also remember that Bluetooth has a much more limited range than WiFi - any eavesdropper must be located a very short distance from your agent at the time of printing with special "hacker-gear". – jksoegaard Apr 11 '17 at 22:50
  • Correct me if I am wrong, but I think iOS doesn't support bluetooth printing. The printer has to be AirPrint enabled. The Zebra mobile printers are not printing A4/Letter size printout which we use. – DickDale Apr 13 '17 at 16:13
  • @DickDale You can do Bluetooth printing on iOS - so in that sense you're wrong. It is not available in first party apps or generally in iOS, however it is possible for third party apps to do Bluetooth printing - such as your in-house built app. The Zebra printers were just a suggestion - you didn't mention A4 paper size in your original question. – jksoegaard Apr 13 '17 at 19:41
  • @DickDale I have edited my answer to link to a HP printer which prints in A4/letter. – jksoegaard Apr 13 '17 at 19:44

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