In this series of posts, we’re detailing the guest Wi-Fi network deployment process, in order to help business owners understand the considerations and requirements of implementing and managing a guest or private Wi-Fi network.
In our first post, we discussed how businesses can assess their internal and external needs before deployment. In this post, we move on to the next consideration: staffing and technical requirements.
1. Project Requirements: IT Staff
Once you’ve assessed your internal and external Wi-Fi network needs, it’s time to think about in-house IT staff. In order to deploy and manage a guest Wi-Fi network, your business must have an in-house IT staff available to manage all hardware, firmware, and software associated with a Wi-Fi network.
At the network design stage, your IT professionals must have all the necessary knowledge, such as Wi-Fi signal coverage expertise, network design capabilities, cabling expertise (to integrate cables into the décor and meet industry standards), understanding of the different Wi-Fi equipment available on the market, and more. In the early stages of this process, network architecture is especially important, as a mistake early on can result in costly fixes down the road. Trained and trusted professionals will help you avoid this fate.
An in-house staff will also ensure that all equipment functions properly, and will provide ongoing support and network maintenance, including collaborating with external providers, hardware manufacturers, and local technicians. It’s best to ensure the team is proactive in their management of the guest Wi-Fi network, which will help to avoid problems altogether.
Finally, your in-house IT staff must ensure the security of your network, which is critical in today’s cyber world.
2. Project Requirements: Equipment & Technology
In addition to ensuring you have a professional IT staff to manage your business’ guest Wi-Fi network, you must also consider the equipment and hardware itself, which will depend on your specific needs.
For example, the size of your business, the number of establishments you have, the number of staff and customers who will have access to Wi-Fi will determine how many APs (access points), gateways, and firewalls you’ll need. Once you have an idea, you can then budget for the cost of the hardware and software. We recommend thinking about the everyday tools you’ll need for installation as well, such as ladders, crimping tools, and mechanical lifts.
In addition, you’ll need to ensure you have the proper service licenses for your network as well as a solid business relationship with your internet service provider (ISP).
3. Project Requirements: End-User Support
This point is similar to our first point about an in-house IT staff. Specifically, your end users, consisting of your staff and customers, will inevitably experience issues with the Wi-Fi network. It’s imperative to have support 24/7/365 to resolve these issues.
One way IT professionals typically do this is by setting up a ticketing system, whereby end-users can send IT notification of a problem, which then gets added to the queue of issues to work on according to priority. This way, each issue is resolved in a timely manner and is documented properly. However, never underestimate the great volume of calls you will get from users who experience minor Wi-Fi access problems. These calls could require you to have several permanent employees just to answer these end users.
4. Project Requirements: Stakeholders, Marketing, Analytics
The final category of considerations when deploying a guest Wi-Fi network include stakeholders, marketing, and analytics. As we’ve discussed in this post and our first post in the series, businesses must understand their internal and external user needs before deploying a Wi-Fi network. This means consulting with all stakeholders as to those needs.
As well, you’ll want to ensure you’ve done enough research to understand which technology vendors and ISP providers are best suited to your needs, and conduct security, feasibility, and reliability assessments. The more information and research you can gather beforehand, the more successful your deployment will be.
Finally, don’t forget to consider your marketing and analytics requirements. How will you brand the captive portal? What kinds of advertisements will you include on the landing page? How will you harvest data, analyze it, and manage various marketing campaigns? Customers on a guest Wi-Fi network can provide you with a lot of information, such as how they are physically traversing your store. It’s up to you to analyze and make the best use of that information.
You must answer these questions for your business in order to successfully deploy a Wi-Fi network and maintain it for the long-term.
A properly trained staff, from customer service employees to waitstaff, managers, and everyone in between, will be critical to the success of your deployment.
Deploying and maintaining a guest Wi-Fi network requires a high degree of expertise and organization. The proper staff, staff training, hardware, and software must all be taken into account, including the time and cost invested to implement the network. For this reason, many businesses choose to outsource to a managed service provider (MSP).
In the next post in this series, we’ll cover how to choose the right MSP to help you deploy and maintain your guest Wi-Fi network.