What if service providers could make wireless LANs easy?

There’s much talk in the press about the explosive growth in wireless LAN usage and how this is the hot spot (no pun intended) for wireless technology. On the flip side, there are the actual users of this technology who are still for the most part unconvinced.

There’s much talk in the press about the explosive growth in wireless LAN usage and how this is the hot spot (no pun intended) for wireless technology.  On the flip side, there are the actual users of this technology who are still for the most part unconvinced.  Although they are intrigued by the functionality of wireless LANs, most are still baffled about what it takes to support a wireless LAN - how to manage it, how many access points to install, what kind of performance to expect and, oh, don’t forget, will it be secure?

TeleChoice and Parks Associates undertook a study to understand the opportunity for managed wireless LAN services. We questioned 35 small and midsize businesses, all with less than 500 employees, about half of them with less than 100 employees, and uncovered some very interesting results.

The surveys were not intended to provide a quantitative assessment of the market as a whole, but rather a qualitative assessment of industry trends for the potential for managed wireless LAN services in small/midsize enterprises (SME).  In the course of the surveys, we asked questions regarding the use of managed services in general and wireless LANs overall.  Here’s what we learned:

•  SMEs in many cases already use managed telecommunications services.

•  SMEs are planning to spend as much or more on managed services in the coming year as in previous years.

•  Managed LAN and managed security services were the most popular managed services among this segment.

•  SMEs use managed services to cut costs compared to do-it-yourself solutions, to supply 24-7 support and to outsource service management.

•  Nearly half the SMEs interviewed have some sort of wireless LAN in place today.

•  Today’s wireless LAN deployments are mainly concentrated in meeting rooms and common areas.

•   Security and performance are the main reasons wireless LANs haven’t been implemented in the remaining half of businesses polled.

•  Based on limited discussion, about half the respondents were interested in using a wireless LAN service.

TeleChoice believes there is a place in the managed services market for robust, managed, wireless-LAN services. In addition to the survey highlights mentioned above, there are general industry challenges that might cause a service provider to go down this path.  All service providers are looking to reach new customers and offer new services to existing customers.  Obviously, this is all about driving new revenue streams.

Many wireline service providers are also trying to determine how to get a piece of the wireless-services pie.  Managed wireless LAN services are a way to get their feet wet.  As providers of managed wireline services for many years, most network service providers already have the systems and processes in place to support managed services.  The strength of this experience should calm many of the concerns SMEs have about deploying wireless LANs on their own.  We believe that ISPs and regional Bell operating companies have key opportunities here because SMEs are already accustomed to purchasing services from them.

This story, "What if service providers could make wireless LANs easy?" was originally published by The Edge.

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