Managed WiFi Solutions for MDU / MTU, Hotel, Assisted Living, & Restaurants

WiFi Calling – What Building Owners Need To Know Part III: The Importance of Network Management

Part III The Importance of Network Management

Need some info on WiFi calling for your property, please click here to schedule a call to review your wireless plan for 2016.

*Just a quick update on the latest WiFi Calling news before we delve into Network Management:  As most of you know AT&T has released WiFi calling for the iPhone with the new iOS 9 update which is currently in public beta.  iOS 9 beta is currently supporting the WiFi calling feature in many locations and new locations are coming online constantly.  If you have iOS 9 and you are unable to activate the WiFi calling feature, just keep trying, your location should be live soon.  For instructions on how to enable WiFi calling on the AT&T iPhone, check out this CNET article, it will walk you through step-by-step.*

Need to catch up? Read WiFi Calling – What Building Owners Need To Know: Part I & Part II

In the past two posts we have addressed Network Architecture as well as QOS, now we will take a look at network management, why it is necessary and what you should demand from your wireless provider.  A lot of the same issues that apply to network management for a wireless data network will apply here. As discussed in previous posts, network issues that would cause resident/ tenant frustration in terms of data streaming, can have a much larger effect on resident satisfaction when it comes to voice coverage.

We know that a WiFi network needs dedicated bandwidth, quality of service, signal that provides adequate coverage while mitigating interference and the right equipment – but what is working in the background supporting those network elements is essential to performance and reliability.  Did you know it can take 5-10 dedicated employees to properly manage a wireless network for one mid-size MDU?

What makes a good Network Management team?

We believe that proper wireless network management should be comprised of four divisions:

  • 27/7 Customer Support: A must-have. Resident and guest issues ranging from how to use a certain device to how to log on to troubleshooting problems can all cause a lot of distraction for property staff.  Dedicated, live customer support should handle all user issues so that property staff never have to lose time dealing with the wireless network.  In addition to live support, extensive FAQs, troubleshooting guides and tutorials should be available online for users who prefer online self-help methods.
  • Network Operations Center (NOC): Network operations should be comprised of Tier 3 support technicians that are monitoring your wireless network 24/7 using smart, diagnostic nocsoftware with the ability to constantly analyze your network and diagnose network and equipment issues before they cause problems for users. 99% of issues should be able to be dealt with remotely from the NOC, but when an issue that does need to be dealt with onsite occurs, the NOC needs to be able to deploy technicians to handle onsite equipment issues right away.
  • Dedicated Customer Relations Manager (CRM): In addition to Customer Support and Network Operations Support, building staff should have access to a dedicated point of contact to deal with administrative issues and get questions answered. This CRM is a liaison between building staff and the network provider, answers general questions for building staff and trains staff and building owners on network capabilities.
  • Diagnostic and Insight Analytic Web Applications: We firmly believe that building owners should have 24/7 insight into their equipment and networks as well as real-time analytics on network performance (NetPulse360 is Spot On’s proprietary network insight web application). Building owners should be able to see the status of their network, how network equipment is functioning, who is on the network and how they are using the network.   In addition, it is essential that your provider’s NOC be using diagnostic and analytic software that watches your network and is able to actively diagnose network issues before they become customer facing problems.  Your wireless provider should have proprietary software and in-house developers that are actively releasing features for both internal diagnostic and customer-facing web applications.  Having in-house developers of these web applications is essential so that if you, as a building owners, need to request a custom feature or need to request a certain type of reporting, the wireless provider can quickly turn that request over for you.  In addition, network customization, like custom splash pages, the ability to offer residents subscription based service and more rely on customized web development initiatives.

support-2014Existing Marketing Agreements and Dedicated WiFi Calling

A managed network has the ability to offer multiple tiered services to residents and guests, including subscription-based services that are implemented remotely.  The ability to offer subscription based services in and MDU/ MTU setting are key in relation to wireless networks.  Some MDU/ MTU properties have exclusive marketing agreements with Cable providers that do not allow them to offer free wireless services throughout their buildings.  These marketing agreements DO NOT extend to a dedicated voice network.  Adequate network management should be able to set up multiple Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANS), including dedicated property-wide WiFi calling at no cost and competitive, subscription-based Internet plans at cost to residents.  This model allows building owners to provide property-wide voice coverage to all residents while offering the ability to subscribe to Internet services.  Setting up multiple VLANS on one physical network is a solution that absolutely needs ongoing network management not only for support and monitoring, but for management of the subscription plans, registration, security and billing.

Network Management & WiFi Calling

As discussed in our previous posts, WiFi network reliability and signal strength are key to implementing WiFi calling as a property-wide voice solution.  In order to ensure optimal equipment operation, mitigation of potential network issues and consistent monitoring of bandwidth and voice packets, a total wireless network management solution is necessary.  Un-monitored WiFi calling in a multi-tenant, multi-residential space will not suffice as a true in-building voice solution.

Conclusion & Third Party Testing

Spot On Network has spent the last few years architecting and engineering dedicated WiFi calling networks and have begun to deploy these networks throughout the county.  Spot On’s dedicated WiFi calling solution has been independently third-party test verified as being not only as clear and reliable as the cellular network, but many times offering a superior voice service.  Spot On has the ability to build property-wide dedicated WiFi calling networks that are in agreement with cable marketing agreements.

For more information about WiFi calling for your property, please contact us to schedule a call to review your wireless plan for 2016.

Cord Cutting Making Big Headlines As Giants Like Apple Get TV Serious

We recently wrote an article about Dish TV’s new offering, Sling TV, which is the first really attractive internet TV package.  Attractive because Sling includes both ESPN and Disney Channel, two titan channels previously unavailable in internet TV packages due to the cost to the provider of including them.

Now cord cutting is making quite a bit of major news headlines.  Just this week, two big articles came out in The Wall Street Journal with the lastest on pay-for internet TV and what the future holds.  In “Unbundling Pay-Tv Brings New Questions“, the WSJ states:

“The media industry is racing toward an Internet-TV future at a breathtaking pace.  But the swift changes, highlighted by efforts from Apple Inc, Dish Network Corp. and others, are giving consumers an array of confusing options and forcing entertainment giants to confront some sobering realities.”

For a day and an age, the cable companies have held a tight court over TV viewing, even navigating their rein through the streaming giants: Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.  The bottom line was: if you want live sports, if you want to watch live shows, if you want access to movie channels, you have one option: a $90.00+ / month cable subscription.  This is changing… and changing fast due to serious commitments to internet TV from the likes of Apple, Inc., Sony Corp. and Dish Corp.

The whole pay-for internet TV model is based on the premise that YOU control what you pay-for and get what you want.  This, of course, gives the media giants the argument presented by Philippe Dauman, CEO of Viacom, in WSJ:

“If you buy retail and you have six or seven of these things [referring to pay-for Internet channels], that might cost you as much as a bundle that gives you 400 different networks.”

Dauman’s take on things is simply outdated at this point and not some Millennials seem likely to fall for anymore.  The obvious counter-argument being, 400 channels of what?  Typically a lot of junk no one wants to watch… and the Millennials are not an easily duped generation.   Millennials are used to much more control over their destiny and their consumption.  This is a generation that wants what they want, how they want it.  This is a generation that wants to scale down and live in a customized “small space”, a generation that has obtained flex hours and work-from-home options- shunning the old-school corporate culture, a generation brought up with Napster and most of all a generation that is completely addicted to their devices and the capabilities that their devices offer.

Roger Lynch, chief executive of Dish’s Sling TV, makes mention of the shunning of pay-for cable TV service, simply: “there’s a growing number of consumers for whom that doesn’t work anymore” and pay-for Internet TV will be, “better for many consumers”.

Clearly, we will be living in a much different media consumption work come this time next year…


Verizon and WiFi Calling

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It appears a lot of interesting news came out of the Oppenheimer Technology, Internet and Communications Conference over the last few days. What I found most intriguing were comments by Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo, as reported by FierceWireless: (As an aside, FierceWireless is head-and-shoulders above everyone else in the technology reporting space).

As reported, Shammo said: LTE-only phones will now be out first half of 2016, not end of 2014. And then he’s quoted as saying “VoLTE doesn’t create a lot of incremental benefit.” And then Fiercewireless adds that Shammo says that “this year and into the future Verizon will focus on deploying small cells, Distributed Antenna Systems and other in-building coverage enhancements to improve its LTE network.

In the meantime, Spot On continues to hear from apartment owners with residents with zero cellular signal inside of their units. The solution isn’t the LTE tweaking that Shammo suggests but a very simple one: Verizon needs to support WiFi calling. Sprint and T-Mobile have embraced it. Consumers need the same from Verizon and AT&T. It would essentially provide owners with a cost effective way to solve in-building cellular problems and allow them to solve the problem today.

We recently highlighted the Smith Micro/Verizon announcement re the use of Netwise. We’re hopeful this middleware is not just for data offload from Cellular to WiFi but is the vehicle for Verizon’s support of WiFi calling…stay tuned.

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