What is Wi-Fi as a service? Wi-Fi as a service is a model in which Wi-Fi networks are designed, built, and maintained by a provider on a subscription basis.
How Does Wi-Fi Work as a Service?
Wi-Fi isn’t typically an optional service or technology. Many devices leverage Wi-Fi to minimize costly wired infrastructure, and Wi-Fi can provide mobility, scalability, and cost savings beyond hard-wired infrastructure.
For enterprises, implementing a robust Wi-Fi network to cover a large office building (or two or three) can be prohibitively costly. The burden of planning, building, deploying, and maintaining Wi-Fi infrastructure is a full-time job, and many companies cannot house a dedicated Wi-Fi team just to handle troubleshooting and upgrades.
Like many other services, however, Wi-Fi has a service model. The introduction of Wi-Fi as a service (also known as wireless as a service, or WaaS) has provided more cost-effective ways to deploy local area Wi-Fi networks.
WaaS will typically adhere to a process mapped onto the following services:
- Design Services: A WaaS provider will often come prepared to help your company design a Wi-Fi network, including access points, routers, wired and Wi-Fi connections, and any other required elements. These providers often offer services built in-house or white-labeled through different vendors, and they can also offer internet service through partner internet service providers. The company can essentially design the network infrastructure as needed.
- Implementation: Once the plan is in place, the provider will then implement the infrastructure, installing all hardware and software to enable the Wi-Fi service.
- Hardware and Software: Speaking of hardware and software, the provider will include the hardware and management software needed to operate the Wi-Fi network. Depending on the terms of the service, the provider may require large one-time hardware purchases or include both hardware and software updates as an ongoing subscription.
- Continuous Monitoring: WaaS providers will often include managed network services, like network scanning, traffic monitoring, performance monitoring, and security monitoring as part of their service (or as an add-on).
What Are the Benefits of Wi-Fi as a Service?
As with many service models, Wi-Fi as a service provides several advantages over traditional Wi-Fi infrastructure. Organizations are beginning to turn to WaaS providers to help them meet the needs of modern business and wireless internet systems.
Some of the benefits of WaaS include the following:
- Cost Savings: Up-front infrastructure costs for an internal Wi-Fi network can skyrocket when considering enterprise functionality and coverage across different sites and for different users. A Wi-Fi service provider can cut down on those costs, with the tradeoff an ongoing service price.
- Ongoing Maintenance and Upgrading: Depending on the vendor, enterprise customers can enjoy a service that upgrades hardware and software as it goes out of date (or as needed for evolving business operations). Streamlining updates and upgrades is often an invaluable service for enterprises and worth ongoing service costs.
- Security and Compliance: Organizations that have specific compliance demands or simply want advanced security can outsource the configuration and security management that often comes with secure Wi-Fi networks. As with other service models, the expertise included with WaaS means that the company doesn’t have to internalize a security team for their networks.
- Design Expertise: Wi-Fi coverage often relies on a clear understanding of physical environments, RF frequencies, and how both play a part in the desired network coverage. Good service providers will offer design consultation informed by an expert understanding of network architecture.
- Monitoring: A useful feature of enterprise networks usually includes monitoring capabilities to track network performance and security. These monitoring services will often include accessible dashboards for business administrators to promote transparency between the company and the provider.
The software and work hours needed to manage such a task are often costly and complex. WaaS providers can package network monitoring services and 24/7 support to help large companies stay online as much as possible.
- Privacy: WaaS is essentially a private LAN or WAN, meaning that the on-site business network is compartmentalized from outside access, either through an external network or the public Internet.
Selecting a WaaS provider should follow these critical benefits. Make sure to select a provider that offers design and installation at cost, with the necessary security and monitoring services your organization needs. Furthermore, gauge the hardware and software needed and if it is cost-effective to purchase up front or sign on for regular hardware upgrades.
How Does Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Work with WaaS?
One of the bigger challenges of managing enterprise Wi-Fi is the security threat from employees bringing their own devices. Bringing in personal devices such as phones and laptops will almost invariably lead to users connecting those devices to Wi-Fi, which means that these devices can potentially impact the performance and security of the system.
Many WaaS providers will include features to help deal with BYOD challenges. The provider can help their client create compartmentalized authorizations based on device types and IDs with managed security and access controls. These authorizations can limit the data that these devices have access to, the sites or services they can access, or even certain network segments.
For business Wi-Fi, this means a more secure network that can support external devices without sacrificing security or compliance. In turn, this will provide more flexibility for employees who want to use their own devices for select work purposes.
Connect with Meter for Your Enterprise Network Design
Design, hardware, maintenance — these aspects of Wi-Fi coverage for enterprise organizations are often a burden that businesses don’t want to take on. That’s why Meter offers network design, implementation services, and managed network features like ongoing maintenance and 24/7 support. And, if you are looking for business internet service and your Wi-Fi network, Meter offers the Meter Connect business ISP finder.
If you’re ready to get started with managed Wi-Fi, contact Meter for a network design consultation.
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