When I first started in networking back in the late 1990s we called outsourced management of customer owned or leased equipment a managed network service (MNS). The scope of these MNS projects could range from just remote management and monitoring of routers to full turnkey design, installation, and management of all IT assets (routers, switches, servers, firewalls, etc.).
The buzzword today for this type of service related to WiFi only is WaaS or WiFi as a Service / Wireless as a Service. We have seen interest from organizations that have no existing WiFi network and from organizations that have an existing or official WiFi network but are looking for a managed solution for a guest Internet only WiFi network.
The table below summarizes the services covered under a fully managed model versus other offerings. The orange colored text in each column indicates the responsibility of the managed service provider while the white indicates the customer's responsibility. As you move from left to right the customer takes on a large share of the work for a reduced cost for services.
|WiFi As A Service||Managed WiFi||Managed WiFi Install||WiFi Engineering||WiFi Design||WiFi Equipment Sales|
|WiFi Design||WiFi Design||WiFi Design||WiFi Design||WiFi Design||WiFi Design|
|Pre-install Survey||Pre-install Survey||Pre-install Survey||Pre-install Survey||Pre-install Survey||Pre-install Survey|
|Project management||Project management||Project management||Post install Survey||WiFi Equipment / Software||WiFi Equipment / Software|
|Installation||Installation||Installation||WiFi Equipment / Software||Post install Survey||Post install Survey|
|Post install Survey||Post install Survey||Post install Survey||Installation||Installation||Installation|
|Operate / management||Operate / management||WiFi Equipment / Software||Project management||Project management||Project management|
|WiFi Equipment / Software||WiFi Equipment / Software||Operate / management||Operate / management||Operate / management||Operate / management|
|Internet Connection||Internet Connection||Internet Connection||Internet Connection||Internet Connection||Internet Connection|
The focus of this blog post will be the guest Internet wireless network solution because it tends to be similar for almost all organizations. Listed below are components and services that are involved in these solutions.
The Internet service can be air gapped / separate from the organizations existing Internet service or can be a shared Internet service that is logically separated from the organizations official network using network equipment configuration settings.
The type and quantity of access points can vary widely based on the size of the location/ venue, number of guests expected and the types of applications they will be using.
To determine the location, antenna types, and configuration settings of equipment a design phase is needed that can be very simple or complex based on exact requirements of the project.
The implementation process involves all activities needed to make the network operational. The core activities are cabling, access point installation, and integration of Internet service and WiFi network.
In many cases organizational prefer to outsource end user/guest support to a third party so that internal IT staff are not overloaded with basic support help on how to connect to the WiFi or other guest user issues.
Billing for WaaS solutions can vary from a large upfront charge to cover for initial equipment and implementation services and then a monthly fee to cover ongoing management of network and end user support to a larger monthly fee that covers the cost of implementation spread out over the life of the contracted solution.