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5 ways to tailor you wireless LAN Service

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I can remember a time when All You Can Eat wasn’t the handy term for all inclusive mobile data tariffs, but an incentive used by restaurants across the land typically to drum up custom at quiet times…or any custom at all if it was a particularly bad restaurant.

I was always disappointed though that the promise of endless consumption of ice cream was slightly dampened by the reality that it was a choice of either vanilla or vanilla. Nothing wrong with vanilla, of course, but sometimes you just craved some mint choc chip or raspberry ripple.

Public space wifi – those wireless solutions that flood places like shopping centres, multiplexes and hotels - always reminds me of the vanilla option. It’s good, indeed it does its particular job very adequately, but sometimes you need something different, something that suits you much better – rum and raisin with chocolate sauce anyone?

Much of the outsourced wireless that gets piped into leisure and retail environments is a commodity, with a single specific use. There’s no questioning its fitness for purpose but it is essentially a product, not a service. So it is invariably going to be limited and prescriptive, and the antithesis of what most enterprise organisations need. If an enterprise is going to feel comfortable about outsourcing its wireless capabilities to a third party, it needs to know that a managed service equates to a flexible service - one that can both be tailored initially and refined continually.

Here are five key aspects to consider when choosing your managed wireless solution – and the provider behind it.

  • Extensibility – Wireless projects are usually the result of one primary driver, such as the extension of the corporate network to facilitate mobile working or BYOD policies. In time, organisations often see the wisdom of leveraging wireless further and rolling it out to include guest access. So if you’re working with a managed wireless provider, make sure they have the technology, skill set and commercial model that allows you to complete your custom wireless journey seamlessly and cost-effectively.
  • Deployment – Depending on the nature of your estate, you may want to exercise choice over how wireless roll-outs are handled. A project for a hundred shops with a similar footprint and fit-out may lend itself to self-installation of pre-configured access points; ensuring wireless coverage across a physically complex campus on the other hand may require specialist engineers. Check that your provider is happy and able to meet your preferences.
  • Integration – Be mindful of integration issues. If, for example, your development roadmap has wireless supporting IP telephony at some point in the future, then be sure that the solution and the provider can make this happen as a matter of course.
  • Authentication – The authentication process and harvesting of user details provides a mine of user intelligence for both CRM and operational/security purposes. While vanilla products are perfectly capable of capturing data, their scope is always going to be limited; a managed service allows for a much more granular approach, with very specific configurations available to better match your needs.
  • Reporting – It’s a similar story with reporting, with plenty of standard metrics available with commoditised guest wi-fi products. But if you want to generate highly customised analysis, that brings in non-standard data or presents information in a certain way, or drills down further or slices and dices, then you need to be assured that the service offered can support your MI preferences.

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