What Is Managed WiFi? (+Benefits, Examples, Best Providers)
June 16, 2020
In 2020, consumers expect all businesses to have free, fast, reliable, and secure WiFi access. Offices rely on quick and secure WiFi connections to support their employees day-to-day activities.
But for many businesses, managing your own wireless Internet connections is a full-time job. IT departments are tasked with ensuring a strong connection reaches the entire office or building, providing security solutions and installing privacy measures, and troubleshooting when connectivity issues occur.
An alternative to having an on-site IT department managing a businesses’ WiFi network? Outsourcing WiFi networks and management to managed WiFi providers.
Managed WiFi is an outsourced wireless network that allows residents, guests, or customers to connect to the Internet via multiple access points throughout a building, ensuring property-wide access. It’s a cloud-based technology, meaning that Internet providers manage, control, and troubleshoot a business or property’s WiFi remotely, removing the need for an on-site IT department to manage a building’s WiFi network.
Unmanaged WiFi networks rely on businesses or individuals to set up their own WiFi networks through a single access point (or multiple access points for businesses). These networks typically have low bandwidth speeds and can only handle a few devices connected to it at any given time. It also relies on on-site IT departments to manage, map, troubleshoot, fix, monitor, and secure a network.
While unmanaged WiFi may have lower upfront costs, when you factor in downtime, on-site IT departments, productivity, and scalability – many times managed WiFi providers are a much more cost-effective method in the long run.
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For many businesses, the thought of outsourcing its IT security services to a third-party presents major security risks and represents a sense of no control.
The managed WiFi providers have a considerable amount of control and power, as they are the gatekeepers of a business’s online connection. They are responsible for protecting a business’s data, defending them from attacks, and ethically securing individual Internet privacy for those connected to the managed network.
It’s important to conduct considerable research on managed WiFi providers to ensure the ethics of these companies in terms of their history of data protection and security. Ask your providers if they store data on its servers and who has access to individual browsers, servers, and overall data.
Managed WiFi is managed by an Internet provider, meaning businesses can cut the costs associated with needing an on-site IT department to manage and troubleshoot a property’s WiFi, as well as have access to cutting-edge wireless technology and cyber-security professionals.
Nothing is worse than the WiFi connection going down (or being spotty) to ruin productivity. For many businesses, this would mean having their IT department diagnose the issue or call in a specialist to figure out the issue.
For those who use a managed WiFi network, providers have 24/7 Dedicated Support that diagnoses, troubleshoot, and fix WiFi problems remotely – without having to come on-site for support. These providers also have monitoring practices in place to reduce downtown.
One of the biggest benefits of managed WiFi networks is scalability. With managed WiFi, providers can simply add new access points or WiFi extenders to the areas of a building they notice have poor connections – before users even notice. This is especially useful for large, multi-unit apartment complexes, large nationwide warehouse and chain-retail stores, hospitals, and enterprise offices.
Managed WiFi providers also have the latest technology. With traditional, unmanaged WiFi access points, only a few devices can be connected at a time. Managed WiFi not only provides multiple access points (literally up to hundreds for large properties), but these providers’ access points can also individually handle hundreds of devices per access point.
As mentioned earlier, security can be a major concern of managed WiFi connections – however for many, it’s a major benefit (as long as the provider has ethical practices.)
Managed WiFi is considered a better option than an internal IT department in terms of security because it allows businesses to outsource to trained professionals. These security professionals know the best practices for setting up the most secure networks and admin controls. They are able to authenticate connections, and monitor networks for potential attacks and breaches.
5. Monitoring & Reporting
Managed WiFi providers have state-of-the-art tools to monitor and report on connectivity, potential security breaches, network reliability and speed, and more. With traditional providers and on-site IT departments, it would be on them to figure out how to best monitor and report on their networks. With managed WiFi providers, there is no need – saving money and giving businesses access to industry-leading software and tools.
6. RF Surveying
A wireless RF survey (or radio-frequency survey) is the mapping of a property to plan and design a wireless network that has wide-coverage throughout a building. Managed WiFi providers conduct RF surveys to design the most reliable network that reaches all corners of a building – ensuring all residents, employees, or customers have access.
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Here are a few examples of the most common businesses and properties using managed WiFi providers:
- Retail Stores
- Multifamily Apartment Complexes & Condos
- Commercial Buildings & Coworking Spaces
- Universities & Schools
- Sporting Arenas
1. Comcast Business Managed WiFi
Comcast Business Managed WiFi offers four types of managed WiFi services. First, an entry-level service tailored for smaller retail stores, coffee shops, and chain stores that allow businesses to create a landing page for customers to connect to its internet service. It also offers a premium and advanced tier that offer access to over 15 million Xfinity hotspots across the nation – as well as a customizable package for enterprise companies who have specific needs and are sensitive to security issues.
2. Spectrum Enterprise
Spectrum Enterprise’s Managed WiFi is a complete solution for businesses looking to outsource their WiFi and IT departments. Spectrum provides installation, 24/7 support, remote managed service, and more from 5Mbps up to 10Gbps. To give transparency to its services, it also offers a dashboard for customers to see their connection health, security, speed, and overall WiFi metrics.
3. Cox Business
Cox Business Managed WiFi solutions is tailored towards larger properties and enterprise companies. With speeds up to 100Gbps and 24/7 support, Cox Business Managed WiFi is a great solution for hospitals, coworking spaces, and multifamily residential buildings. Cox also providers up to 150 access points per property, allowing it to cover up to 1 million square feet with reliable, high-speed internet access.
4. AT&T Managed WiFi
AT&T Managed WiFi provides internet coverage and outsourced IT services for chain retail stores, multifamily properties, and businesses. It has a wide reach in terms of cities and countries it offers wireless networks in, with AT&T offering its managed WiFi solution in 60 countries. AT&T uses cutting-edge technology and vendors to offer industry-leading speed, security, and connectivity.
5. MegaPath Managed WiFi
MegaPath Managed WiFi is the smallest provider of managed wireless Internet solutions on this list. The company targets hotels and businesses, and manages up to 100 users per access point. MegaPath is a subscription-based service that gives businesses the tools to offer a secure, high-speed WiFi connection to its guests and/or employees, while not having to monitor the network with an on-site IT department.
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