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.