Too often, companies settle for a mediocre wireless experience. That, unfortunately, can trickle down to their customer's experience. A VAR with solid wireless solutions can help improve the situation, says Abad, Meru Network's new Global Channel Chief. The first task is confronting the problem. — Jennifer Bosavage, editor
When was the last time you unplugged a phone in a hotel room to get your email?
While some of you might think I’m describing a scene out of the old west, it actually wasn’t that long ago that networks were almost exclusively wired. Intel only launched Centrino, its unified WiFi platform that could be integrated into notebooks, in March 2003, just a little over nine years ago. Before that, wireless access was a bit of an exotic commodity. Users paid $60 a month or more for a separate wireless account and had to attach a brick onto the back of their notebooks.
"How many hot spots do you think you will use?" asked Gartner’s Mark Margevicius at the launch of Centrino.
Copper was king, so one of the first things a business traveler did was to check to see if he or she could take apart the phone. At meetings, participants would take turns with network cables to get access. Very few employees checked their emails during group discussions because you couldn’t.
We all know what happened next. Wireless notebook sales grew exponentially. Wireless solutions were everywhere. Cafes and offices began to install guest networks and, pretty soon, every seat in the airport was filled with travelers tapping away silently on laptops or tablets. In many offices today, cables dangle, unplugged.
Another side of the wireless revolution gets less discussion, and it will become an increasingly important issue for resellers, equipment providers and their customers as WiFi continues to expand and compete more directly against services such as 4G. Coverage, reliability and robustness on many mission-critical WiFi networks often stink.
Mysterious, unexplained outages can be chronic, annoying occurrences at regional offices and small businesses. A lone individual streaming a video can soak up the bandwidth needed by 30 others. Someone sends you a lengthy slide deck over corporate email? Good luck. One of the drivers of the emerging cloud storage business is a failure of networks to operate efficiently. Wired networks have historically exhibited far greater reliability. The old phone network was particularly durable: storms could knock out the power for miles but you could still make phone calls.
Some people will tell you the best way to deal with that is to be realistic. Explain the challenges and gauge your customer’s expectations accordingly. In other words, lower them. I think you should do the opposite: raise their expectations.
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