Guest Wi-Fi has been a pain point for years. Layered security requirements, access permissions, disclaimers, and other restrictions on how guest Wi-Fi can be used creates a cumbersome and inhibiting experience for customers, partners, and visitors.

In case you didn’t see it coming, guest Wi-Fi is about to become more challenging for the IT teams managing it and the business units leveraging it for customer experience.

Fortunately, there are some breakthrough technologies that will simplify Wi-Fi management, make it more accessible and secure while allowing businesses to generate revenue along the way. 

Why Guest Wi-Fi is Getting More Complicated

We’re more than halfway through 2021 and beginning to see the global economy reemerge from the pandemic. As people begin to engage in public spaces and offices, we’re seeing an emergence of new behaviors that developed during isolation.

Throughout the pandemic, people worked, learned, and socialized from home.  Weekend dinners with family were replaced with video calls. People spent the additional alone time taking online classes or watching videos on how to bake the best bread, perfect yoga poses, or anything else that interested them. Let’s not forget the increase of streaming movies, sports, virtual conferences, meetings, and other events.

Interestingly, even though people are returning to the office and public venues like coffee shops, concert halls, and sports stadiums, they haven’t decreased time on their devices. There are increased video calls and live chats. People are creating more videos, sharing and viewing them even when in the presence of family, friends, and colleagues. 

This creates a new strain on cellular services and guest Wi-Fi network providers.

The Challenge of Traditional Cellular Services and Wi-Fi Access

Receiving consistent, high-performing cellular access anywhere at any time has always been a challenge. Certain venues or locations may be more congested or less available. Who recalls the “Can you hear me now?” commercial? Think about concert venues and what they have to do to scale up cellular networks to allow increased video streaming, voice calls, and applications that provide services like shared rides (i.e. Uber and Lyft). It’s quite extensive (and expensive) and still may not provide the cellular coverage demanded by guests, staff, and vendors.

Guest Wi-Fi has been the alternative but presents its own slew of challenges. People visiting a facility that offers guest Wi-Fi are presented with a list of SSIDs and networks. It’s not always obvious which is the right wireless network to join or which is safe to join. How often do we train company staff on the cyber security dangers of joining guest Wi-Fi networks? Then, users must sign terms and conditions. It’s a cumbersome process that also poses security risks.

It can also become expensive to the companies and venues providing guest Wi-Fi because they are ultimately offering and managing a network service in hopes it keeps customers on-site longer (i.e. coffee shops are more likely to sell more goods the longer patrons stay on-premise). There are also the businesses that provide guest Wi-Fi for ease of service (i.e. retailers providing way-finding or coupons through customer-facing applications).

This is where the magic of Orion Wireless and Juniper Networks comes into play. 

What is Orion Wireless, and how does it benefit the different parties?

Orion wireless is the technology that brings guests, cellular service providers, and Wi-Fi network providers together into a win-for-all relationship.

Developed by Google’s Area 120, Orion wireless makes it as simple as walking on-premise for a user to access a guest Wi-Fi network. No more searching for the appropriate Wi-Fi network, accepting terms and conditions, etc. Imagine walking through a mall or town square where there are multiple stores with their own guest Wi-Fi. Now the user can walk from place to place and consistently receive Wi-Fi without manually changing Wi-Fi networks. This is because the user has already downloaded the Orion Wireless certificate onto their device. Participating Wi-Fi network providers (i.e. the coffee shop or vendors within a sports stadium) automatically register Orion Wireless certifications and authenticate it to the Wi-Fi network.

The benefit to the customer is that they can easily and automatically access Wi-Fi where cellular coverage may be poor.

The benefit to the cellular service provider is that they can offer bandwidth to customers where cellular coverage may be limited.

The benefit to the wireless network provider is that they can monetize the bandwidth that people use, charging it to cellular service providers. Orion Wireless makes it possible to track the people who come on premise and leverage the Wi-Fi through Orion. For those already using Juniper Mist wireless infrastructure, adding Orion capabilities is as simple as turning on a few features. In upcoming articles, we’ll discuss adding Orion Wireless through your infrastructure and if you have the available bandwidth to offer and monetize it.

What To Learn in This Series?

This is just the beginning of what business and IT leaders should know about simplifying and monetizing guest Wi-Fi access with Orion Wireless.

That’s why we’re offering this series that covers:

●  What Is Orion Wireless and Is It Right for My Business?

●  What CIOs Need to Know About Adding Orion Wireless to Network Capabilities

●  How to Test Orion Wireless and Get Flexible IT Procurement Options

Don’t miss the discussion on our LinkedIn.

Can’t wait to learn more about Orion? Sign up to request the Juniper Mist Orion Wireless test kit so you can see it in action.

Ruddy has more than 20 years’ experience in customer service and support management. He has worked in startups all the way to Fortune 500 companies, in the networking, telecom, financial services and sports industries, among others. He considers himself a lifetime coach and customer advocate, helping organizations build their support organizations. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from San Francisco State University and a number of business, technical and industry certifications.

About Rahi

Rahi is a subsidiary of Wesco Distribution, a Fortune 200 Company with operations in 50+ countries and annual revenues over USD 19B. Rahi delivers comprehensive data centre solutions for global enterprises, hyperscalers, and multi-tenant data centres. Rahi provides IOR, local currency billing, and RMA services, enabling businesses to operate efficiently anywhere.
Since being acquired in Nov. 2022, Rahi’s global presence and analytical expertise help clients achieve their business and IT requirements.

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