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A cappuccino while you browse the Internet at your favorite coffee shop? Or how about a hamburger at the local diner while you catch up with email? Today, thanks to free Wi-Fi, it’s a familiar scene at restaurants, hotels, and convenience stores where customers with laptops and smart phones sip, dine, and use the Internet to work, chat, and browse.
McDonald’s restaurants began offering customers free guest Wi-Fi at more than 11,000 locations throughout the U.S. in January. Starbucks introduced a similar offering in July at over 7,500 stores in the U.S. and Canada.
The move will accelerate a trend in businesses such as restaurant and hospitality, and other industries are expected to soon follow suit. With thousands of establishments offering free Wi-Fi service, many customers are now making dining and travel decisions based on its availability. In effect, guest Wi-Fi has become a cost of doing business as well as a tool to encourage greater foot traffic into stores and businesses.
But more than just looking for a costeffective, premium guest Wi-Fi service for their establishments, many businesses today are also seeking ways to get the greatest value possible out of their networks. They need look no further than the new portfolio of Hughes enterprise Wi-Fi Solutions, which not only provides a premium guest Wi-Fi service, but also delivers value-added applications such as enterprise Wi-Fi and rogue wireless scanning.
The guest Wi-Fi component of the solution cost-effectively enables companies to create a dynamic, interesting, and secure experience for customers and guests, while ensuring security of personal information for PCI compliance. To protect operators from legal liabilities, the guest Wi-Fi solution provides a customized splash page with terms and conditions the user must agree to. The page doubles as a marketing opportunity for the retailer to present branding messages.
The enterprise Wi-Fi component of the solution delivers enterprise-grade wireless connectivity that enables employees to use mobile devices to access training materials and other job-related information. For example, during peak sales hours, store employees can check inventory and speed up the checkout process by conducting pre-checkouts with handheld scanners.
Along with convenience, the widespread availability of Wi-Fi technology has also brought new security threats, prompting the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Council to issue new guidelines requiring retailers to ensure the security of the cardholder data environment by regularly scanning all sites for wireless threats. Hughes Wi-Fi Solutions offer a wireless scanning service that includes everything a retailer needs for compliance—software, hardware, monitoring, and reporting. Supporting standard Wi-Fi frequencies, including the recently ratified 802.11N, the system exceeds PCI requirements by continuously monitoring all sites. In addition, the service provides automated remote containment of suspected rogue access points for added protection before a security breach can spread.
In addition to integrating guest and enterprise Wi-Fi with wireless scanning, Hughes Wi-Fi Solutions also deliver Internet access to run the solutions, as well as anti-spam, anti-virus, and Web content filtering features—for a one-stop solution. The comprehensive offering includes equipment, installation, field maintenance, call center support, and consulting services to help customers plan, brand, and deploy the service to their specifications.
Since businesses need to make a Wi-Fi investment to remain competitive and to satisfy regulatory requirements, it only makes sense to leverage Hughes integrated Wi-Fi Solutions to get the best value today—and to create growth opportunity for the future.