vowifi

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

New Multifamily WiFi Model Provides WiFi Calling and Subscription Services To Residents

Spot On Networks new WiFi offering allows building owners to offer residents property-wide WiFi calling and subscription data services while continuing to honor marketing exclusivity agreements with cable and telco companies

 

For Immediate Release

New Haven, CT February 27, 2017

Spot On Networks (“SON”) announced today the development of a new service offering that provides property-wide WiFi calling service and subscription-based tiered data services to residents in multifamily buildings. This new service offering uses SON’s UserSafe® WiFi technology to provide property-wide seamless, high-quality voice coverage with Quality of Service (“QOS”) and voice packet prioritization. This same wireless service also allows residents to subscribe to low-cost high speed WiFi internet services as an alternative to the high-cost plans offered by cable and telco ISPs. The new solution allows building owners to offer WiFi for voice-only services at no-cost while preventing residents from receiving data services unless they subscribe, thus allowing building owners to honor their existing marketing agreements which often do not allow a property to offer bulk data services. The property-wide wireless backbone also provides amenity area data services to residents at no cost and support for the Internet of Things (IoT). The pricing for this new model is significantly less than other voice solutions like a Distributed Antenna System (“DAS”).

The multifamily industry has long been plagued with poor in-building cellular coverage due to energy saving construction materials such as concrete and low-emission glass. Poor cellular coverage has hurt the multifamily industry resulting in dissatisfied residents and lease issues. Solutions to the in-building cellular coverage problem prior to the cellular carrier’s adoption of WiFi calling had been predominately cellular booster systems or DAS which is often a non-starter due to high cost and long deployment time. A property-wide wireless backbone with WiFi calling and subscription data services will typically cost a building owner $0.40 per square foot which is about one-fifth of a DAS solution.

While WiFi calling has been available in various forms for years, it has only become a viable in-building voice solution in the past eighteen months due to native dialing support from the four major cellular carriers: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint as well as a host of MVNOs with various WiFi calling solutions and device offerings such as Republic Wireless and Google Project Fi. Spot On Networks has been developing and testing managed wireless services that support seamless, high-quality WiFi calling with QOS and voice packet prioritization for years.

“We have long been involved in developing in-building voice solutions for our building owner clients,” stated Spot On Networks CEO, Dick Sherwin. He continued, “Our CellBoost® product gave building owners a quick-to-deploy and cost-effective alternative to the DAS solution – but we have always seen the future as Voice Over WiFi. Because many building owners have existing marketing exclusivity agreements with cable and teleco companies, they were prevented from providing property-wide WiFi to residents. Our new wireless model allows building owners to use the less-expensive and more sophisticated UserSafe® WiFi solution for voice while honoring their marketing agreements AND providing residents with faster, lower-cost data services.”

Spot On Networks new hybrid voice and data solution is currently being deployed in many properties across the U.S. and is being highly sought after by affordable housing authorities, real estate investment trusts and multifamily building owners.

About Spot On Networks

Spot On Networks (“SON”) is a wireless internet service provider and wireless consulting company representing tens of thousands of residential and commercial tenants, nationwide. SON designs, deploys and manages carrier grade WiFi, WiFi Calling and CellBoost® networks to multifamily, senior living, hospitality, retail and commercial buildings. Spot On’s wireless networks are backed by patent-pending network architecture and UserSafe® technology.

SON is the leading provider of managed WiFi networks and in-building voice solutions to the U.S. multitenant housing market and is a trusted leader in wireless since 2004. SON develops WiFi-backed solutions to solve the most pressing problems facing today’s building owners.

 

 

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.

WiFi Calling – What Building Owners Need To Know – Part I

For a private webinar on WiFi calling for your property portfolio, click here.

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.

Successful business lady standing with hands foldedSo, 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.

Is your property ready for WiFi calling?

wificallingIt seems like a long time ago, but it was just last year that Apple announced iOS 8 support for WiFi calling and T-Mobile announced it would be the first major carrier to support WiFi calling on the iPhone.  The speculation started almost immediately  – what would the two biggest cellular carriers (AT&T and Verizon) do?  Would they have to support WiFi calling due to market demand? If all the major carriers supported WiFi calling, it would because a real solution to in-building cellular problems.  At Spot On we have long seen that In-Building WiFi would be the most cost effective voice solution for building owners if supported by the four majors and our belief was that if Apple were supporting it, Verizon and AT&T would eventually have to support it.  Despite two quick vague announcements from Verizon and AT&T that they would be supporting WiFi calling “sometime in 2015″, news from both on the topic has been pretty quite.  Until now…

A few days ago, RCR Wireless reported on a June petition by AT&T to the FCC in which AT&T set their 2015 target date to release WiFi calling support.  Despite CEO Ralph De La Vega’s VoWiFi-downplay statement last year that, “we’ll use WiFi calling in 2015, but only as a complement”, the AT&T petition in June had AT&T state, “As these VoIP technologies become the preferred platform for voice services…”.  It seems like AT&T is changing their tune on VoWiFi.

While Verizon has remained a bit more publicly quiet on the topic during the last 8 months, they have previously stated that their launch of VoWiFi “should be available by mid-2015″.  We have also heard through the rumor mill that Verizon is beta testing WiFi calling with a few select customers.

Now.  The real question is: Is your property ready for WiFi calling?   With support from all four major carrier WiFi will be the most cost effective method to providing in-building voice coverage and data for your residents, tenants and customers.  If you need more information on WiFi calling, or an assessment of your property’s wireless needs, please contact me.

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