Wi-Fi as a Service: Types, Costs, Pros & Cons
The world is developing and what development is all about is to improve the standard of living. There was a time when using wires and other materials were common to connect many machines together. Today, this is considered as being backward. As far as 1990s, there have been upgrades to connection without use of wire, leading to the term wireless “connection.” I bet you can remember there was a time when connecting two machines such as phones were majorly done using infrared, then, it was upgraded to use of Bluetooth and now today to a more sophisticated means. More often than not, you hear the word Wi-Fi, isn’t it? Yes, you did, I can see you acknowledged that. May be you have never asked yourself what it actually means but I am sure you know its worth more than the meaning of the word. Wi-Fi is an acronym for “wireless fidelity.” Wi-Fi is a wireless networking technology used for local area networking of internet and devices with a family of standards based on the IEEE 802.11.
How does Wi-Fi work?
I know you might have experienced how fast Wi-Fi is but it is incredible to tell you once more that it provides high speed internet connection more than you can imagine. The operation of the Wi-Fi has three major elements that must be put in place and these are router, radio signals and antenna. What makes Wi-Fi networking possible is the radio wave. Therefore it must be present and strong. You don’t have to worry nowadays about the Wi-Fi card because it is usually in-built for many devices you get nowadays. However, Wi-Fi connection is limited based on the covered area of the installation. As long as you are within the coverage area, you can have access to it and with that you can access anything you want on the internet anytime.
With the availability of Wi-Fi network, it is now easier to connect with many people within a library, campus, Resorts, schools, homes, espresso stores and even within a community depending on the coverage. It is amazing right? It is more amazing for business enterprise using it in order to make work easy and creates conducive environment for their customers.
Still on how it works, the antenna and routers are responsible for transmitting the radio signals and the signals are then picked up by Wi-Fi receivers. Examples of Wi-Fi receivers are cell phones, personal computers and tablets which are mostly with in-built Wi-Fi cards. As soon as the device (Wi-Fi receiver) receives a signal within the 100-150 feet range from the Wi-Fi router the device prompts for immediate connection which may further request for a password (if the Wi-Fi network has password). The range of the Wi-Fi depends upon the environment, indoor or outdoor ranges. The Wi-Fi cards will read the signals and create an internet connection between user and network. The speed of the device using Wi-Fi connection increases as the computer gets closer to the main source and speed decreases as computer gets further away from where the network is situated.
Standards of Wi-Fi Technologies
The Wi-Fi since its evolution has been evolving using the IEEE 802.11 standards with addition of alphabets to differentiate it. The variant of the technology is signified by the letters and this implies, new technologies come with different (usually higher) speed, radio frequencies and other specifications at it applies. The following are the standards:
- 802.11a: it was launched in 1999. It uses 5 GHz (gigahertz) transmission with a 54 Mbps (megabits per seconds) wireless speed reach. It is important to notice that 2.4 GHz is most common now but it is preferable sometimes to use the 5 GHz band because of low crowd on it. What that means is that you get better performance for activities like video and voice transmission. Using this standard at home is not advisable because the needed radio is highly expensive, thus, most devices meant for immediate consumer do not support it. So, if you are going to install Wi-Fi at home, do not opt for it.
- 802.11b: this was also launched in 1999, in fact, it supposed tobe the first on the list. An upgrade of it is 802.11a. It is considered as least expensive Wi-Fi standard but it is also the slowest. Therefore, the transmission speed is 11 Mbps and it uses the 2.4 GHz frequency band. It used to be the recommended standard for home use due to low cost of it but there are new alternatives today.
- 802.11g: the technology was launched in 2003. It directly becomes the first alternative for the 802.11b due to its speed. Although it uses the same frequency band of 2.4 GHz but it possesses a wireless transmission speed of 54 Mbps (as proclaimed). However, you have to know that it actually provides a 24 Mbps transmission speed in real world.
- 802.11n: now the talk of the day. This is the most common standard in today’s market. It was launched in the year 2009. It also serves as the second alternative to the 802.11b as well as first alternative for 802.11g standard. It has a combination of both 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz frequency bands. Thus, there is room for switching. The wireless transmission speed was built to be 140 Mbps theoretically. This is undoubtedly amazing, isn’t it? That is not the end.
- 802.11ac: this is the new update of the previous versions. It was upgraded in 2014. Like the 802.11n it has two frequencies (2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz) for switching. Theoretically, it is expected to have a maximum speed of 7 Gbps. Although this is not obtainable in real life experience but it surely is not the same with previous version speed. The real world speed is closely 1.3 Gbps. The first 802.11ac routers were made available in market as early as in January 2012 according to a source but the standard is still emerging.
- 802.11ax: it is the latest version of the Wi-Fi standards. It was introduced in the year 2019. More like subsequent two versions (802.11ac and 802.11n) it was developed to have both 5.0 GHz and 2.4 GHz frequency bands. It is however super fast and an indeed upgrade of the previous versions. It has the speed of 10-12 Gbps wireless transmission. Highly recommended for businesses and campuses.
However, for easier understanding of these standards, in 2018 the Wi-Fi Alliance took a step to rename them. The 802.11ax were then later labelled as Wi-Fi 6, while 802.11ac, 802.11n, 802.11g, 802.11a and 802.11b become Wi-Fi 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 respectively.
Note: there are other versions yet to be launched such as 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6E) and 802.11be (Wi-Fi 7).
Wi-Fi as a Service
As far back as early 90s, networking service is generally referred to as managed network service (MNS). The meaning of this is that, the service is rendered in managing the leased or owned equipment of yours, usually an outsourced management service. The WIFI managed network service projects may vary but usually involves monitoring and remote management of network service, sometimes, it may include installation, full turnkey design and procurement of network equipment like routers, firewalls, switches and so on.
Today, using the same terminology for the same service sounds ridiculous. Majorly because the type of connection today is different from the 90s own. Therefore, the word used today is ‘Wi-Fi as a Service’ (also known as WaaS). Do not be surprised it can also be called ‘Wireless as a Service.’ Many new businesses have seen the importance of Wi-Fi and they are searching for ways to go about the setting of it in their firms. Some other old companies are trying to upgrade their existing Wi-Fi network. The kind of service they are searching for is known as ‘Wi-Fi as a Service.’ By now, I am sure youknow what WaaS means. I can see you nodding in affirmation.
The services provided by Wi-Fi as a Service are very sophisticated. One of the reasons many businesses will prefer to find a trustworthy professional to handle it for them. Besides, it removes the burden of procuring equipment which may lead to extra budget on transportation cost for the business as well as other complications that may arise by doing it themselves.
Basic Terms in Wi-Fi as a Service
Design: it determines required Wi-Fi structure, dimension for access point density, size of access points, strategic antenna type that will be used, appropriate location as well as the configuration settings of needed equipment. As you can observe, it could be simple and may also be very complex depending on nature of the project.
Installation: this involves installation of designed equipment for the networking which includes cables, access points (APs), switches, conduit running, power, required ports, Telcom closets etc. the Wi-Fi design is used in arranging the hardware as well as in procurement because it was determined earlier based on survey that gives actual desired Wi-Fi coverage at best speed obtainable.
Internet Connection: the provision of internet service can be done by separating existing internet service of the business enterprise. It may also be shared with the existing internet which may however be separated from official network through configuration settings for network equipment.
Types of Wi-Fi as a Service
There are differences in the types of services required by the business enterprise or consumer of the Wi-Fi as a Service. However, a more simplified typology can be used to explain it. The types represent the ranges from full to null (Wi-Fi equipment sales). Here are they:
Full Wi-Fi as a Service:
The service renders is full service. That is to say, all needed services to move from ‘no Wi-Fi’ or ‘obsolete Wi-Fi’ to ‘installed Wi-Fi network’ status. The services render here are:
- Wi-Fi Design
- Pre-install survey: this has to do with predictive and on-site survey for Wi-Fi network service.
- Project management: this entails acting as a manager for the needed equipments and services so there will not be excess or shortage.
- Post-install survey: it has to do with cross-checking planned project goal whether it has been achieved after installation.
- Operation and management: it has to do with operation of the Wi-Fi network as well as management of it as it is used for maintenance purpose. That is to say, it will be monitored for you in case of any technical error or outage of an access point; frequent servicing is conducted for the Wi-Fi network and questions and problems are solved for you; and security patches are applied and firmware is installed based on the maintenance plan.
The package entails building a Wi-Fi network from scratch. As it is evident, it begins with design and then covers all other needed service. That means, you do not have to stress yourself in procuring the following items:
Access Points (APs) have different models and selecting the appropriate one for your Wi-Fi settings might be difficult. Therefore, Wi-Fi as a Service full package will help in procuring the appropriate Access Point for your network in needed quantity and quality. In addition, an ideal placement of the APs will be included in full Wi-Fi as a Service, although, the most common practice is to mount APs below the ceilings while the wires are placed above but appropriate practice will be implemented based on your structure.
Power over Ethernet (PoE) is a set of standards that ensures data and direct current (DC) electrical power to be transmitted along a single cable simultaneously. It may not be necessary sometimes because it is optional. However, when it is required, the service is also procured in the full Wi-Fi as a Service. Even, best of the three methods (Alternative A, Alternative B and 4PairPoE) will be used according to the structure of your Wi-Fi settings as well as your desires.
Also, management software and monitoring software required for your Wi-Fi will be provided when you opt for this full Wi-Fi as a Service package. Therefore, stress of getting needed software and applications such as voice and video applications, guest access applications, business applications, monitoring software etc. are removed for you as it will be covered in the services under full package.
However, electrical cable work and switch port are not included in the services to be rendered here. It is more important to note this as they are not part of the package for full Wi-Fi as a Service.
Cost of Full Wi-Fi as a Service
As it can be observed, there is variability in the types of services provided in this type of Wi-Fi as a Service. Thus, it is nearly impossible to provide a single answer to cost of this service. However, there are criteria for costing each services and this is what we will be looking at here.
The full Wi-Fi as a Service cost is charged for hardware and access points. The hardware cost depends on the hardware that is used for the setting and a fee per month is charged for it. However, for the access points, a cost of €50 is to be paid per access points per month. The monthly cost for the management tools, active management and periodic updates are 17,50 per Access Point. So let us assume you have 10 access points in your organisation, so your cost per month for the access points will be €675. The contract is to be for 3 years consecutively. So, basically, your cost has covered the design, mounting of access points to the ceiling, setup, implementation, and monitoring as well as support during work hours.
- Reliable for business
- Difficult to hack
- No investments needed in hardware
- When some hardware fails you do not have to buy new ones
- Higher life span
- No investments in software
- Pro-active management
- Support included
- No additional costs
- Periodic updates
- Long term contract
- Difficult to set by non-professionals
The managed Wi-Fi is very close to the package of full WaaS package. In fact, the only difference is the Wi-Fi as a Service provider will not be helping in procuring the needed hardware. Business that uses this may decide to oversee the cost of needed hardware by itself or decides to withdraw monopoly of power from Wi-Fi as a Service provider and retain that part. The services render are:
- Wi-Fi Design and security
- Pre-install survey
- Project management
- Post-install survey
- Operation and management
- Access points
- Network switches
It is known that main challenge mostly business like that of yours face has to do with deploying right Wi-Fi design. However, when the managed Wi-Fi package is subscribed for, you are going to get your unique requirements for your dream Wi-Fi network setup and effective one. Nonetheless, with this package you get the needed intelligence for your Wi-Fi network. So you can rest your back from any form of panic of insecurity with the provision of software for ensuring user experience management, real-time business intelligence and monitoring.
Cost of Managed Wi-Fi
The cost of getting the package is similar to full Wi-Fi as a service package explained earlier with little reduction. The charges for the services are contracted for 3 years and they are in two forms. A cost of €15 is charge for managing and supporting your business’s access points and the charge is for per month for each access point. So, if you have 10 access points your cost will sum up to €150. Also, a sum €17,50 is charged for software used in monitoring and management of firmware updates and others per month per access point. So for 10 access points that’s € 175. That’s € 325 per month total.
- Removes monopoly from consultant
- Ensures client’s control of internet subscription
- Can not be easily hacked
- Share of control may reduce speed of service
- Could require extra expenses on internet subscription
- Conflict may arise between client’s and consultant’s management
You only need to understand how the operation is explained and you will see the similarity in the types of Wi-Fi as a Service. Now that you are more updated about what Wi-Fi as a Service is all about as well as how to get your business one, why don’t you try one with us. You will get the best service here that you cannot find anywhere else.