WiFi is becoming available everywhere
A visible trend in technology is the prevalence of wireless Internet access. Anywhere that you may see people waiting for services or people congregated for any reason, you see people accessing the Internet:
- Hotel Lobbies
- Condo common areas
- Cafes or Coffee Shops
- Sports Bars
- Doctor’s waiting rooms
- Dentist’s waiting rooms
- Orthodontist’s waiting rooms
Why offer WiFi to guests?
Let’s face it, if people are sitting still for a few minutes they are looking at email or browsing the web. Many people have cellular devices that can access the Internet directly via cellular data service. Some people carry tablet computers (think iPads) that use cellular data service to access the Internet. Why would they want to use WiFi at your business to get on the Internet and, more importantly, why would you want to provide this to them?
First, have you accessed the web using an iPhone, iPad, or computer through a cellular connection? It is not the fastest Internet experience. Most cellular data services provide Internet speeds of somewhere between 900kbps and 1,900kbps. Now, let’s compare that to your home or business Internet. Your home Internet (on the cheapest DSL) should have a speed of around 1,500kbps or it could be as fast as 20Mbps (that is 20,000kbps) or higher. A WiFi connection in your home or business should be capable of 300Mbps (300,000kbps) ideally while offering real-world speed of around 70Mbps to upwards of 160Mbps. So, the Internet connection at your home or office is the limiting factor and its limitation is between 1,500kbps and 20,000kbps. What this means is WiFi can offer up to a ten-fold (10x) improvement in Internet speed versus cellular data.
Second, your customers will use it if you have it. It can be up to 10x faster, why wouldn’t they use it? But, what’s in it for you? There are benefits to your business if you provide WiFi Internet to clients (or potential clients). A few of the benefits include:
- Wait times are perceived to be shorter.
- Guests will have a more pleasurable experience.
- For restaurants or food services establishments, guests that stay longer will consume more products.
- You can let your clients (or potential clients) know more about business offerings or specials [advertise / up sell]
- You can market to people waiting at neighboring businesses.
- You will have a competitive edge over businesses that charge for WiFi or that do not offer WiFi at all.
- Some guests will see free WiFi as a good will gesture from your business potentially providing word of mouth advertising.
So, if you are thinking about running out to your nearest electronics or computer store to buy a wireless device, you may want to continue reading…
Why you should leave it to the Pros
If you are still reading, you probably are seeing the benefits of free WiFi to your business and to your clients. There are a few things to consider before you throw a wireless router or wireless access point on to your existing Internet connection. Some things that you should consider:
- Unregulated Internet access could expose your business to a liability risk.
- A standard WiFi router or access point does not provide the ability to advertise your business or to establish terms of service.
- Connecting a WiFi device to your network could expose your business information to unwanted access.
- You want to prevent guests from visiting inappropriate sites.
- You want to prevent guests from using your Internet to shop around on your competitors’ web sites.
- You should keep track of who is using your WiFi.
- You should make sure that your WiFi is working at its optimum performance.
What happens if a guest does something illegal while using your Internet access? It probably will not affect your business in any way, but why open up the potential for such risk? A standard router or access point provides an Internet connection but there is no provision in these devices to force new users to a ‘Splash Page’. A splash page would typically include legaleze outlining how your Internet connection may be used and how it may not be used. This is generally the page (or the subsequent page) that provides some means of marketing to clients or potential clients as well.
If people are using your Internet, you want to make sure that it is just your Internet and not your business data. Do you really want to make your QuickBooks files, vendor information, or pricing available to clients or, worse yet, competitors? Connecting the wireless access properly means providing regulated Internet access to your guests without exposing your business network.
Even if you provide a terms of service page telling your guests what is not permitted on your network, what happens if they do not agree? Can you block them from accessing your network? Can you block undesirable or inappropriate sites so that your guests are forced to adhere to your policies? Can you block out competitors’ sites if you want to prevent guests from ‘shopping around’?
ITC provides free and paid guest WiFi services for businesses of all sizes in many diverse vertical markets. We have the experience and expertise to design and implement a WiFi solution for your business and, once the solution is in place, we can provide ongoing monitoring, management, and support. Contact us today for a free No-Obligation proposal for WiFi service for your business or call (305) 238-6587 to get in touch with one of our associates.