Enabling customer connectivity with WiFi

Operating in the telecomms sector, Westbase Technology has a distinctive B2B product and customer portfolio. However, the changing nature of mobile communications has seen a rise in the number of product applications, specifically WiFi, related to the everyday consumer or customer.

According to ‘The Mobile Economy 2013’ Report published by the GSMA earlier this year:

“Almost half the population of the earth now uses mobile communications. A billion mobile subscribers were added in the last 4 years to leave the total standing at 3.2 billion…Given the strong growth trajectory and pace of innovation, we are confident that the next few years will see continued growth with a further 700 million subscribers expected to be added by 2017 and the 4 billion mark to be passed in 2018.”

As consumers increasingly surf, like, follow, watch and comment it’s safe to say that we are all just one single step away from M2M technology. It permeates almost every facet of our modern lives. So let’s look at a few examples:

  1. Health and wellbeing – have you ever had an accident and been thankful for the emergency vehicle that arrived on the scene, yes it was connected back to a control centre using M2M.
  2. Everyday finance – how many times in a week do you withdraw cash from a cashpoint or ATM, M2M technology helps to ensure that you have secure and reliable access to your money.
  3. Retail and shopping – interestingly this is something that happens and interacts on a subconscious level, in-store advertising, digital screens and street billboards are all managed with M2M technology.

One of the key factors driving forward the cross-sector adoption of M2M technology is the need for always-on connectivity, both commercially and for consumers. We want to see what people are saying on Facebook, buy that DVD or book on Amazon, plan our journeys with National Rail or watch something we missed the night before on BBC iPlayer…we simply need information at our fingertips and on our devices!

BYOD (bring your own device) has also become a very popular term over the last few years, staff are now using their own devices more and more for both personal and work purposes, checking emails, taking calls, checking stock, managing calendars. ICT managers are adapting technology to ensure that systems work across a plethora of devices. We bring our devices with us everywhere. In fact when I was planning my upcoming holiday this summer, one of the noticeable points was whether or not our resort had WiFi so we could be connected (yes that really just means to put photos on Facebook and check email). The resort does, but it’s not free.

WiFi is what I like to call an M2M enabler (along with fixed-line and cellular 3G and 4G), it helps to connect one device to one another. So should WiFi be free to consumers? I watched this BBC report about the recommendations being proposed in Australia and specifically the potential impact of free WiFi in hotels there.

Quality of service was an issue that was raised in delivering a good WiFi network, but this can easily be overcome with a CradlePoint device like the COR IBR600 3G, COR IBR600 4G or MBR1400. These cellular routers make it easy for companies (and hoteliers) to enable reliable high-speed mobile broadband access for both employees and customers.

In fact, when coupled with a hotspot management solution, provided by the likes of HotspotSystem, who deliver an effective yet simple management and billing service for businesses who want to provide mobile broadband for their customers, this is a perfect solution for providing access to people who want and need their WiFi connectivity while they’re on the move or in a specific location. Businesses can provide a good quality network, which is reliable, inexpensive, easy to deploy and manage.

With retailers, transport networks and even smart cities getting connected, isn’t it time that other industry sectors like hoteliers looked at the wider opportunities a managed and reliable WiFi network can offer them. The debate over free vs paid will no doubt continue, but as long as WiFi access is available, surely that is a first step in smart connectivity for all.

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