We see it in coffee shops, hotels, supermarkets, airports, and parks. Public WiFi has become a status quo for the ever-connected, fast paced world. A public WiFi network is a powerful tool for any commercial organization to take advantage of. More and more organizations are requiring business-grade access points in their infrastructure deployments. Because of this, it’s important to know how a public WiFi network can benefit a business you’re deploying into, and the tools to look for in access points to create the perfect WLAN solution.
How Public WiFi Benefits Businesses
A public network is becoming a standard part of a business model when it comes to commercial businesses. It is an expectation that the on-the-move worker of today can stay productive in a coffee shop or hotel that they’re staying in. After all, 24 billion devices are predicted to be connected to the internet by 2020. Free WiFi has two distinct advantages to a business, increased foot traffic and longer time spent in the business. 62% of small to medium businesses have noticed customers spending more time on premise and spending more money when free WiFi is offered.
Because of these factors, it is not uncommon for commercial-based deployments to feature on premise free WiFi for customers. There is even a chance you’re reading this blog post right now by utilizing a hotel or café’s public or free WiFi network. When it comes down to it, there is an ever-growing need in the market to stay mobile and productive. A public WiFi network enables customers to be able to do just that, which makes for a happy, and profitable, customer.
Public WiFi Tools
Each public WiFi network can have massively different usage requirements. Luckily, enterprise and business-grade access points come with various tools to customize each network to the needs of the particular business. Here are some must-use WiFi tools that are built into these devices that you can use to create a cutting-edge WLAN deployment for your clients.
Public and free WiFi networks can sometimes be overloaded by too much traffic, it is in their nature. Because of this, it’s important to create an environment where employees and important users can efficiently operate through WiFi without having to worry about competing with others for bandwidth. Most access points have the availability create multiple SSIDs that can be designated for separate users, for example one for public use and one for internal use.
Wireless Client Limits
Most access points can also designate a maximum amount of clients that can be connected to a particular network SSID at any one time. In networks that can experience large, periodic bounces in use, this can make the difference between a stable network and a broken one. In most cases, this will be used to prevent public network access from slowing down the total traffic through the access point.
Captive portals enable organizations to create an authentication barrier that must be crossed before a user can gain access to a public network. This authentication can be as simple as checking a terms and agreements option, or having to authenticate the connection via social media or landing page. This step can typically be highly customized depending on the business, even requiring name, email, and payment information from the user. This is particularly helpful when the organization wants to limit access to their free WiFi network, or engage with customers who used their network later on.
Sometimes, a deployment will require you to limit bandwidth to ensure the performance of the network. Business-grade access points will allow organizations to throttle bandwidth through the access point based on SSID, MAC addresses, and even IP addresses. Typically, this can even be assigned to happen on a scheduled basis to only kick in during peak-usage periods to protect user experience.
Think about your own public WiFi usage. How often have you accessed information through your phone or laptop through a public WiFi network in a hotel, coffee shop, restaurant, or store? I can honestly say that right now I'm using a public WiFi network at a convention to write and organize this blog post. It is important to both understand how a public network can boost an organization's business and know the tools at your disposal to craft the perfect wireless deployment.
Did you know that Grandstream's wireless access points have all the tools required to create powerful public WiFi networks? If you're interested in learning more, download our 23 Must-Have WiFi Features guide. It covers 23 important features that our WiFi solutions support that we feel are a necessity to creating powerful wireless deployments.