In a world where the internet touches everything, choosing the best business WiFi solution is no different than shaping your future success.
Your customers, team, and devices rely on fast, dependable, secure WiFi to stay connected and productive.
The Need for Reliable WiFi in Businesses
Reliable WiFi has become the backbone of almost every business — regardless of your industry.
- Productive Workforce. Choosing the right business WiFi solution allows your teams to communicate efficiently and instantly and use cloud-based project management tools. Applications like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Workspace, and many others require a steady and fast internet connection. If a business’s WiFi connection is spotty or slow, it can hinder real-time communication, video conferencing, and collaboration on shared documents. This can result in delays, miscommunications, and inefficiencies, ultimately affecting a company’s bottom line.
- A smart workplace. There can be no Internet of Things without the Internet! This includes smart thermostats, intelligent security systems, connected lighting, and even smart refrigerators in break rooms. Without a reliable WiFi connection, these devices can’t operate efficiently, and the benefits of automation and real-time monitoring could be lost. Reliable WiFi is essential to harness the power of IoT and make the workplace smarter and more efficient.
- Inventory management. Real-time inventory tracking allows you to anticipate your customers’ needs, avoiding stockouts and cutting costs — but that only works if your connection is on-point. A strong WiFi connection is required for scanners, point-of-sale systems, and other inventory management tools to operate in real time. Without it, there might be delays in updating stock levels, leading to potential lost sales or overstock situations, which can be costly.
- Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. Customers have come to expect constant access to WiFi, but they appreciate businesses offering exceptionally reliable and fast networks. Think of excellent WiFi as a loyalty-building tool. A fast and reliable WiFi connection can enhance the customer experience, leading them to spend more time (and potentially money) at the establishment. If customers consistently experience poor WiFi connections, they might choose to go elsewhere, where their digital needs are better met.
It’s hard to find a business that doesn’t need reliable WiFi in today’s interconnected world — but one size never fits all.
What Is Managed WiFi?
Managed WiFi is a hassle-free business WiFi solution that leaves all your connectivity needs in the capable hands of a service provider.
If you choose this option, you’ll typically own all the hardware that makes your network tick — including access points, routers, and switches. You won’t, however, have to worry about speed, security, or efficiency. Your service provider handles all your day-to-day network management needs, from setup and configuration to ongoing management and support.
It’s often the business WiFi solution of choice for retail stores, hotels, airports, medical clinics, restaurants, and cafes.
Pros and Cons of Managed WiFi
Managed WiFi solutions benefit larger businesses with complex networking needs but an existing WiFi infrastructure.
Key benefits include:
- Advanced security features that guard against cyber threats.
- A hands-off approach that frees you from the burden of network maintenance and troubleshooting, so you’re free to focus on running your business.
- Managed WiFi is cost-effective for businesses with a preexisting hardware infrastructure.
There is a trade-off, however — when a service provider manages your daily network needs, you’ll have slightly less control over configuration and customization.
Understanding WiFi as a Service
WiFi as a Service (WaaS) is a subscription model. This business WiFi solution frees you from investing in hardware like access points, as WaaS includes hardware and ongoing network maintenance.
WaaS is an excellent option for startups and small businesses like cafes, bookstores, bowling alleys, hair salons, or fitness centers. These businesses can’t just look forward to predictable monthly costs but also know their WiFi solution is easily scalable and will grow as they do.
Benefits and Limitations of WiFi as a Service
WiFi as a Service is a convenient option for smaller and growing businesses that need a highly scalable WiFi network.
WiFi as a Service may be the right choice for your business if:
- Don’t have technical expertise and would love for a capable third-party provider to ensure your network runs smoothly.
- You need an efficient WiFi network that grows with your business — by adding access points or upgrading your service level.
- You want a cost-effective WiFi solution that eliminates the need to invest in hardware.
On the other hand, larger businesses may discover that ongoing subscription costs add up over time, making Managed WiFi a more cost-efficient solution. Network customization options are also limited with WiFi as a Service.
An Introduction to Cloud-based WiFi
Everything’s in the cloud these days, but you may be surprised that your WiFi solution can be, too. With cloud-based WiFi solutions, you’ll own the relevant hardware, but a third-party provider manages the network and its functions through the cloud.
Cloud-based WiFi is an excellent choice for small and medium-sized businesses, including those with multiple locations.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloud-based WiFi
The centralized management and real-time monitoring cloud-based WiFi offers make it an excellent choice for businesses with multiple locations.
Here’s a look at the strongest advantages:
- Your WiFi network can be managed and monitored through a cloud-based dashboard, making managing multiple access points or locations simple.
- Cloud-based business WiFi solutions offer real-time insights into network performance for easier troubleshooting and management.
- Cloud-based WiFi makes automatic updates for hardware and network configurations possible, ensuring your network always stays secure.
- This option is highly scalable.
On the downside, all your network management needs to depend on a stable internet connection — so service disruptions can interfere. Beyond that, cloud-based services have vulnerabilities that WiFi solutions managed on-site do not, making cloud-based WiFi less suitable for businesses where security is paramount. Cloud-based services often store data off-site in data centers managed by third parties. If these data centers are compromised, it can lead to significant data breaches. Even though cloud providers invest heavily in security, high-profile breaches have occurred in the past. Unlike on-site solutions, where data backups might be physically available, cloud services depend on remote backups. If there’s a malfunction or an error (like accidental deletion) and no proper backup is in place, data could be lost permanently. Hospitals and medical clinics are a prime example.
Scalable WiFi Solutions for Growing Businesses
Business owners understand that change is the only constant better than anyone else. A business WiFi solution that meets your current network needs isn’t good enough — you need your network to grow alongside you.
Managed WiFi, Cloud-based WiFi, and WiFi as a Service (WaaS) are all scalable, but it’s essential to ensure your service provider offers the features that enable you to expand easily. Here’s what to look for:
- The ability to add additional access points or network components as you grow.
- The option of accommodating increased traffic on your WiFi network without compromising performance.
- A dashboard that enables you to monitor your WiFi network centrally, even if you’ve outsourced network management.
- Robust security features that proactively protect your network and sensitive data from cyber threats.
- Guest login options that keep guests separate from your main network.
- Quality of service features that offer network priority to critical devices.
- Reliable customer support and troubleshooting.
- Transparent pricing and the ability to upgrade your management plan as needed.
- Redundancy options to ensure a reliable connection at all times.
- Features that allow you to keep your customer data safe and secure.
Making the Right Choice: Comparison of Solutions
Your WiFi needs are as unique as your business. Choosing the most suitable solution is vital but challenging. Is managed WiFi, WiFi as a Service, or cloud-based WiFi more likely to meet your needs?
Use this side-by-side comparison as a handy checklist!
Managed WiFi is best for larger businesses with an existing network infrastructure and more complex networking needs. This business WiFi solution is a good choice for organizations needing greater network control.
- Because you’ll usually own the hardware required to operate your network, including access points, managed WiFi comes with significant upfront costs.
- Monthly network management costs are reduced compared to WiFi as a Service.
- Expanding your network capabilities will require you to invest in additional hardware.
- Your MSP can scale your network capabilities.
- Your managed service provider is proactive about your security needs.
- Security settings are fully customizable but dependent on clear communication with your provider.
WiFi as a Service
WiFi as a Service is a great choice for small and medium-sized businesses, including those expecting to grow rapidly in the coming years. It is a go-to option for companies that aren’t big enough to have their own IT departments.
- WiFi as a Service has significantly reduced upfront costs, as your provider owns the hardware.
- Monthly costs are predictable, and your provider is responsible for replacing outdated hardware.
- WaaS is highly scalable — one of its biggest advantages. You’ll be able to add and remove access points as needed.
- Your WaaS provider is responsible for managing network security.
Cloud-Based WiFi Services
Cloud-based WiFi is a versatile business WiFi solution that gives businesses of all sizes a great deal of flexibility. Because cloud-based WiFi makes it possible for an entire network to be managed from anywhere in the world, it is a great choice for multi-location businesses.
- You’ll be responsible for hardware investments, but network maintenance is outsourced to the cloud service.
- This streamlined WiFi solution typically cuts costs, as network management can be managed anywhere.
- Cloud-based WiFi is highly scalable, even without significant hardware upgrades.
- Cloud-based WiFi services allow for remote monitoring and control.
- Security breaches have a far-reaching impact, making cloud-based options less suitable for businesses with greater security needs.
The best WiFi solution for your needs is an adaptable network that can grow as you do.
Managed WiFi services are ideal for larger organizations with more complex networking needs and existing infrastructure. This option offers greater control over network customization but places hardware maintenance responsibility on you. Hospitals, universities, and hotel chains are good examples of businesses that may choose this option.
WiFi as a Service is an excellent choice for small and medium-sized enterprises lacking technical expertise and hoping to avoid upfront hardware costs. It is highly scalable, even at short notice. Small startups, retail stores, cafes, and fitness centers are among the businesses that benefit from WiFi as a Service.
Cloud-based WiFi is an option for businesses of all sizes, including global enterprises. It is scalable in real-time and allows much control from a centralized location.