Spot On CEO and Wireless Hall of Famer, Dick Sherwin, sits down with Wi-Fi Now’s Claus Hetting to discuss managed WiFi, the multifamily industry, WiFi security and the future of wireless.
WiFi Calling is continuing to make headlines in the U.S. and the UK with carriers on both sides of the Atlantic continuing to scramble to support the feature to meet consumer demand. WiFi Calling has proven to be of huge benefit especially to owners of large residential buildings that experience poor voice coverage.
Here are the biggest WiFi calling news headlines from the last week:
AT&T Waits for FCC Approval: The latest update from AT&T seems to be that the average customer will have to wait a bit longer for the feature to be active while AT&T waits for FCC approval. As we have been reporting, the iOS 9 update was available for public beta from Apple and many AT&T customers had the ability to use the WiFi calling features. Those customers that had access to the WiFi calling feature in public beta will still be able to use it. AT&T’s statement about the delay: “AT&T tested WiFi Calling through the iOS 9 beta and we are prepared to support commercial launch of the service once approved by the FCC”. According to AT&T, the FCC needs to approve the RTT (real-time text) feature which is a system used for hearing impaired users.
EE Releases WiFi Calling – Vodafone Plays Catch Up: EE has released WiFi calling. According to techradar.com, EE customers can already utilize the feature if they are using a compatible device. As for Vodafone, network support should be available for the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge in the coming weeks. UK carriers Three and O2 offer support for WiFi calling as well, however it is in the form of a mobile application and is not native to the device. The Three and O2 solutions are still an upgrade from OTT apps like Skype and Viber, however, due to their use of the phone number native to the subscribers device. As for seamless roaming between WiFi and cellular for EE and Vodafone customers, it is not yet available. EE has positioned itself as a leader in working on a solution for seamless hand-off between WiFi and cellular, however it will not be available until EE switches over to VoLTE later in the year.
Ericsson Announces Support For WiFi Calling On Non-Cellular Devices: Ericsson has expanded it’s WiFi calling offering to include tablets and laptops when a subscriber downloads software to their now cellular device. This new Ericsson offering follows a recent consumer report on WiFi Calling produced by Ericsson consumer labs. The July report made consumer adoption of native WiFi calling very clear with 61% of respondents claiming to now make more frequent and longer voice calls over WiFi calling and half saying that they are moving away from OTT apps like Skype in favor of WiFi Calling.
For more information on WiFi Calling for residential and commercial buildings, contact: email@example.com
Just read MFE’s article: 4 Things Multifamily Owners Should Consider before Starting Major Renovations. Granted, the article was more about keeping renters happy during renovation and construction and less about technology’s place during the construction phase, but it got me thinking anyway. Major renovations on existing buildings are the perfect time for building owners to think about cabling and to implement a cabling plan to future proof their buildings. Obviously, the perfect time to think about cabling is pre-new construction with an extensive and comprehensive cabling plan, but renovation time is another ideal opportunity to get existing buildings wired for current and future technologies.
We hear this issue often: a building owners spends millions of dollars constructing a new build or renovating an existing one without any cabling plan. It is often after construction is finished that we are contacted to outfit the property with wireless. Unfortunately this creates a problem for building owners who end up having to drill into new walls, find room for telecom equipment and aesthetically pleasing places for access points. Even with the proliferation of wireless devices, cabling is often completely overlooked with no cable having been pulled to the units. Obviously this is a completely preventable issue that can cost building owners a lot of unexpected dollars and time. The sooner we can get involved with your new construction or renovation plans to advise on the proper cabling scenario, the smoother the cabling process will go and the happier the resident will be (less delays and better support for technologies) and the happier the building owner will be (less money spent and the more seamless the result).
We advise that building owners seriously consider a comprehensive cable plan either pre-construction on a new build or anytime major renovations are being planned to save time and money. A proper cabling plan allows building owners to wire their buildings not only to provide residents and staff with the necessary access to support today’s technologies, but the right cable pulled to the right places can ensure that the building is future-proofed for future needs. A good cabling plan will provide modularity for the incorporation of data and voice services as well as provide adequate support for IoT.
To request a copy of our Cable Future Proofing for Building Owners White Paper, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.*
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 software 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.
Existing 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.
It was almost a year ago that Apple announced the WiFi calling feature for iPhone and that set off a slurry of wireless chatter: if Apple was investing in WiFi calling development for T-Mobile, market demand would have to push the two majors (AT&T & Verizon) to support it….., right? After all, what iPhone user is willing to forgo an iPhone feature for carrier loyalty (pretty much no one…. perhaps except for some of the lucky few who are still grasping onto an unlimited data plan)? But seriously, Apple has basically dominated and dictated the tech market with the iPhone since 1997… so those of us in the WiFi world were, of course, speculating (hoping) that major carrier support was only months away after the T-mobile announcement. Well, we were almost right….iOS 9 is on pace to offer WiFi calling for AT& T customers and Verizon is still promising WiFi calling by end of 2015… so there you have it: WiFi calling is here.
So, What Does All This Mean For Building Owners?
It mean’s a heck-of-a-lot. First off and most importantly it means that a property-wide WiFi networks will not only provide property-wide data services, but voice coverage as well. The in-building voice problem that has plagued the multifamily/ multitenant industry for years is no quick and inexpensive to solve. WiFi calling means that other voice solutions like DAS, and Small Cell will be pretty much obsolete due to the length of time it takes to deploy, the necessity for carrier approval and the tremendous cost.
That being said, now is the time for building owners to get educated on WiFi calling, what it means and how best to implement it to their portfolio. (For a private webinar on WiFi calling for your company, click here). At Spot On we have been testing dedicated WiFi calling networks as an In-Building voice solution for the last couple of years and have had 3rd party-tested verification that a dedicated WiFi calling network with QOS is not only as good as cellular, but in many cases, call clarity was vastly improved. What is essential here are three things: QOS, Network Architecture and Network Management. In the next few posts we will go over each of these things in detail and why they are so important to a quality VoWiFi network.
WiFi Calling QOS (Quality of Service)
So, what’s all this talk about QOS (quality of service) and voice pack prioritization and how does it affect WiFi calling? Quality of Service is necessary to ensure voice experience. One thing that is very important to remember is that a multi-residential setting and a single-residential setting are not the same when it comes to WiFi (we will get into this more when discussing Network Architecture). Think of a WiFi data network: you are watching a movie on Netflix and you have a poor WiFi connection. What does your movie do when the connection gets slow? It buffers. Really annoying and can certainly put a damper on your movie experience, but once the buffering is complete your movie continues. Voice is very different – signal loss or signal interference (the same that would cause a movie to buffer) can kill a voice call, cause jitter and fade or make a voice completely unintelligible. VoWiFi does not use anywhere near as much bandwidth as data BUT (and it’s a big but), the signal needs to be consistent.
Another scenario: You go to make a WiFi voice call at home, someone else jumps on the router and starts streaming a movie. Again, with data this might cause your Internet surfing to slow, but you would still be connected to the Internet. With voice, the bandwidth hog could literally cause your call to drop by taking all the bandwidth and pulling it for their data streaming.
The way we deal with this in an MDU/ MTU setting is by setting up a dedicated voice network, only for voice calls. We ensure that all voice packets are prioritized and we do this by constantly monitoring the network, making sure that voice comes first and data does not interfere. This network model is also beneficial to building owners who have marketing agreements with cable companies but still want to offer WiFi services throughout their property. Spot On can set up a dedicated WiFi voice network that is for all residents and voice only as well as a data network where residents can subscribe to data services. This allows the property to offer VoWiFi in a bulk WiFi scenario without interfering with cable marketing agreements.
Stay tuned for more…
If you would like to request a private webinar on WiFi calling for your property portfolio, click here and we will get your questions answered.
Spot On Networks Announces Release of Facilities™ WiFi
Facilities™ WiFi allows property staff to access secure back-office connectivity throughout an entire property using the existing back-end infrastructure.
Spot On Networks, LLC (“Spot On”) today announced the release of Facilities™ Wi-Fi. Facilities™ WiFi allows property staff (e.g. leasing agents, maintenance, etc.) to access back-office IT resources securely throughout an entire property or in designated areas. Facilities™ WiFi extends a property’s existing back-office infrastructure using UserSafe™ WiFi which allows property owners to save money on expensive data plans for smartphone and tablet use.
Facilities™ WiFi networks are completely separate from the residential or guest WiFi networks and include staff-only SSID and VLAN. Facilities™ WiFi wireless and wired infrastructure can be used to support additional network devices and appliances that benefit property owners such as video cameras, DVR systems, HVAC controls, energy monitoring systems, leasing applications, engineering and maintenance applications and more.
Tom Doyle, President of Spot On Networks, said: “Building owners and managers found staff continually going back to the office to access WiFi. Property owners were looking for a secure solution for employees to access secure property applications, office printers, scanners, etc. from other areas within the property. Facilities™ WiFi solves the problem of property staff having to continually go back to the office for secure Internet access.” Mr. Doyle added, “In addition to Facilities™ WiFi providing this solution, it saves property owners money by offering unlimited data usage, eliminating costly cell phone and tablet data charges.”
About Spot On Networks
Spot On Networks (“SON”) is a wireless Internet service provider (WISP) and wireless solutions provider to the multitenant, hospitality, assisted living, commercial, retail & restaurant industries. SON wireless solutions are geared towards solving the most pressing problems facing today’s building owners including providing secure WiFi Internet access, providing indoor cellular coverage, improving operations and saving money. SON is the only WiFi provider backed by UserSafe™ technology.
For more information regarding this press release, please contact:
Director of Marketing — Spot On Networks
New Features and Functions That Combine Security with Ease of Use and Support for Any Device
New Haven, CT (PRWEB) September 30, 2013
Spot On Networks, LLC (“Spot On”) today announced the release of UserSafe™ Wi-Fi Version 2.0.
UserSafe™ WiFi 2.0 enhances the WiFi network user experience and provides our property clients with better support features and additional deployment options.
Tom Doyle, President of Spot On Networks, said: “We have incorporated several new features in UserSafe™ WiFi V2.0 that are based on the feedback and input of our customers,” Mr. Doyle added, “Our goal is to continue to provide our secure and managed UserSafe™ WiFi together with enhanced usability functions that make it easier, faster and smoother to use WiFi. The upgrades that we have made to our UserSafe™ WiFi product do just that.”
User Experience Enhancements: AnyDevice™ technology and New Registration Portal
Spot On has begun initial roll out of an upgraded log on interface that allows for ease of login on any size device. Enhanced login pages make signing up for WiFi access easy on laptops, smartphones and tablets and with any operating system. New property WiFi networks will be deployed with the UserSafe™ 2.0 AnyDevice™ standard and existing properties will be upgraded in phases. The new Spot On Registration Portal allows WiFi networks users to sign up faster and simpler than before and should greatly improve customer experience. Registration Portal upgrades will also take place in phases.
New WiFi Networks Deployment Type: Facilites WiFi™
Spot On is pleased to announce our latest WiFi network deployment type: Facilities WiFi™. Facilities WiFi™ expands a property’s secure back-office connectivity throughout an entire property or in specific areas of a property using a property’s existing back-end infrastructure. Facilities WiFi™ allows staff to be able to utilize secure WiFi Internet access where they can work, email, surf, use leasing applications and more, property-wide or in designated areas. This network is not accessible by anyone other than property staff. Devices on a Facilities WiFi™ networks are pre-authenticated allowing for easy access to the Internet. Facilities WiFi™ allows properties to avoid costly 3G data plans, both reducing cost and providing a faster and more reliable connection to the Internet.
New WiFi Network Feature: Restricted Time of Day Access
Properties with WiFi networks in their common areas can now choose to offer residents restricted time of day access at certain areas of their property. Residents will receive a message at login that the network is currently unavailable during certain hours.
About UserSafe™ WiFi 2.0 Technology
UserSafe™ WiFi 2.0 offers the most advanced managed WiFi Internet security available today. Each WiFi network user is isolated from other users allowing only for access to the Internet. Spot On Networks uses Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption protecting users from scanning, hacking and identity theft. UserSafe™ technology allows WiFi networks users at multifamily properties, hotels, restaurants and commercial buildings to surf, shop, bank and email safely and securely over the Internet.
About Spot On Networks
Spot On Networks (“SON”) is a wireless internet service provider (WISP) providing managed UserSafe™WiFi networks to multitenant properties, hotels and commercial spaces. SON is the leading provider of managed WiFi networks to the U.S. multitenant housing market and a trusted leader in hotel WiFi since 2004. SON develops WiFi-backed solutions to solve the most pressing problems facing today’s building owners.
The CellBOOST™ Family of Services provides cost effective, cellular signal solutions for properties experiencing poor indoor cellular problems. In addition, CellBOOST™ enhances indoor radio signal allowing first responders to have adequate indoor radio coverage.
WiFiPlus+™ provides buildings with wireless energy management, building automation and security monitoring solutions to help properties to save money on utilities, earn LEED credits, reduce their carbon footprint and build tech-savvy buildings of the future.
Spot On Networks is the only WiFi provider with UserSafe™ technology. UserSafe™ guards network users from hacking and identity theft.