AT&T’s Small Site Brings Cost-Effective Wi-Fi to SMBs

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    Fifteen Wi-Fi Predictions for 2015

    Retail customers linger longer in stores that provide free Wi-Fi, according to a study by IHL Group and EarthLink Holdings. According to eWeek, Wi-Fi not only entices shoppers, it can provide ways to track traffic in-store as well as which mobile devices are used by customers. Not to mention, the research indicated that providing Wi-Fi to employees can also boost sales after half the respondents claimed “a 3.4 percent increase in sales after deploying Wi-Fi to its employees.”

    What small to midsize businesses (SMBs) should take from this information is that providing access to Wi-Fi in your business is a positive step in the right direction. And to help SMBs extend Wi-Fi to their customers and employees, AT&T is now offering its Wi-Fi Small Site. The product was created for small professional offices, retail stores, restaurants, bars and other establishments that want to provide Wi-Fi for their customers while also being able to glean pertinent customer usage details from it.

    LightReading reports that many carriers are vying to provide Wi-Fi to the growing SMB market, but AT&T claims it will become “an enterprise-focused company,” and this offering geared toward businesses is backing up that claim.

    AT&T’s business site says that the new product allows SMBs to provide “enterprise-grade connectivity” via its plug-and-play product. Small Site can be set up quickly, provides secure Wi-Fi to employees separate from the free in-store Wi-Fi for customers, and is reliable. It requires that the business’ existing Internet connection provide at least 6Mbps speed for the solution to work. The company offers Small Site with its All for Less package, which is aimed at providing bundled services and apps to small businesses.

    Being able to separate employee Wi-Fi use from customer traffic allows the business to more easily track visitor traffic and device usage throughout the establishment. The business could discern how long customers stay in the store, which can help them create better marketing campaigns. Distinguishing what types of mobile devices customers use can also provide more detailed profiles of store patrons.

    The Wi-Fi market has up until now overlooked small businesses in its offerings, because it was considered to be expensive to provide. However, as LightReading explains, carriers are changing their tunes:

    Virtualization and the cloud are helping to reduce the need for human capital by automating processes and moving support online. Small cells and WiFi are also making it easier on the connectivity front, giving SMBs options that are easy to install and don’t break the bank. The SMB market has a lot of potential to bring in new revenues for service providers, and the good news is, companies in this space now have more options than ever before.

    This is also good news for workers and customers who demand to be able to stay connected throughout their days—when working, shopping, or socializing over dinner.

    Kim Mays has been editing and writing about IT since 1999. She currently tackles the topics of small to midsize business technology and introducing new tools for IT. Follow Kim on Google+ or Twitter.

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