Wi-Fi Network Deployment [3/3]: Choosing the Right Managed Wi-Fi Provider
In this series of posts, we’re detailing the Wi-Fi network deployment process, in order to help you understand the considerations and requirements of implementing and managing a guest or internal network.
In our first post, we discussed the key elements that help you ascertain your project’s scope and assess your priorities in order to plan for the right solution. In the second post, we covered the staffing and technical requirements you’ll need to plan for in order to successfully deliver on your project. Now, we’ll outline how to ensure you choose the right managed Wi-Fi provider for your business.
If you’re not sure about whether you should trust a managed service provider (MSP) with your Wi-Fi network, read this blog post about the advantages of outsourcing.
Before retaining an MSP for your business, it’s important to evaluate them to see if they will be a good fit. As such, we encourage you to consider the following traits and aspects when shopping for an MSP. A high-quality offering should include the following capabilities at a minimum:
- Planning that optimizes wireless coverage based on expected usage and venue design;
- High levels of network reliability with remote network management and centralized support that reduces the burden on your team;
- Monitoring and reporting on usage levels and service issues that help ongoing network planning for each site;
- Multiple authentication options for the network so you can opt for the authentication method that fits your needs;
- Proactive monitoring of 802.11 devices to promote availability;
- Rogue wireless detection capabilities;
- Content filtering to remove objectionable content from public hotspots;
- And more.
In addition to the above capabilities and expertise, you must also consider company experience, industry knowledge, the existing client portfolio, customer support and availability, a modular product offering, and customization before choosing an MSP. Below, we delve into each of these considerations.
When comparing MSPs, look at the company’s experience and how long they’ve been a player in the managed Wi-Fi industry. If the company itself is young, consider the prior experience of its founders and employees. Perhaps an industry veteran simply decided to start his or her own shop. However, be careful of completely new players as they may not have the experience and confidence you need in an MSP.
Similar to the first point, industry knowledge is an absolute must for anyone in the MSP sphere. MSPs do not operate in a vacuum. Rather, a not insignificant portion of the business revolves around maintaining relationships with hardware manufacturers, telecom companies, and internet service providers. Vendor management is essential, meaning establishing relationships are key, especially when those relationships mean cost savings for the MSP, which are then passed on to you.
Existing Client Portfolio
Make sure to look at the MSPs client portfolio. Which companies have already entrusted the MSP with their managed Wi-Fi? This will give you a good idea about the MSPs capabilities, the size of the companies it services, and the range of industries it deals with.
Customer Support & Availability
Does the MSP offer round-the-clock support to its clients? Managing Wi-Fi requires constant monitoring and vigilance to solve problems quickly and avoid potential problems. Connectivity issues, for example, could result in lost customers and revenue to your business. The MSP should offer 24/7 support 365 days of the year for end-users as well as for your internal IT staff. Your business doesn’t rest, so the MSP can’t either. Not only that, but you should also be able to talk to a real live person who understands your needs. You should be confident that the MSP values your business with them and is willing to support you every step of the way.
Modular Product Offering
What services and products does the MSP offer? Do they match the needs of your business? All businesses are different. Some will need full Wi-Fi marketing options with analytics, while others may need only an internal Wi-Fi for staff. Evaluate the MSPs offerings to ensure they meet your needs.
Finally, when evaluating MSPs find out if their services leave space for in-house customization in case you need advanced features and solutions in the future. If not, they may deploy a system that will lock your business into its current model and needs, without considering how your business may grow and develop in the future. If the MSP has a dedicated development team, that is a good indicator that they will set you up for success.
By understanding the needs of your business, you’ll be well-positioned to evaluate MSPs based on the above requirements and determine which MSP to retain. Doing the research and legwork at this early stage will ensure a mutually beneficial relationship as well as any ongoing support you may need.