If you run a service-based location business – a bar, restaurant, cafe, hair salon, doctor’s office and more – no doubt you have heard by now all about the benefits of offering free WiFi to your customers. It can help attract new business, help you garner more online reviews and other user-generated content, make collecting demographic data easier and cheaper, increase social media engagement and increase sales and customer satisfaction in general. What’s not to love?
Offering public WiFi is a great idea, with certain caveats. As much as it has to offer there can be certain downsides and complications. However, the vast majority of them can be prevented. Here is a look at some of the most common issues businesses encounter when offering free customer WiFi and how you can avoid them.
It Needs to Be Fast and Reliable
Free WiFi is only good free WiFi – free WiFi customers will love – if it is both fast and reliable. If it is slow and patchy customers may become more frustrated and disgruntled than they would have done if you did not offer them free Internet access at all.
If your public WiFi connection is slow or spotty, it’s time to investigate why. An old router, interference from other networks, inadequate speeds and /or bandwidth, old cabling and even the location of your routing equipment might all be to blame.
For hardware issues – cabling, routers etc. – and possible upgrades, the best course of action is often to call in the experts. They can make recommendations based on both your needs and your budget and help you determine exactly what hardware changes and upgrades you need to make to help ensure your customers can get online quickly and get online every time they try.
A common cause of lagging connection speeds is not having enough bandwidth to support the internet usage your business is generating. To calculate how much bandwidth you really need the following is a handy rule of thumb that’s suitable for most businesses is 120 kilobits per second for each user you plan to support at one time. Base your estimate on your busiest time of the day.
Once you know how about how much extra bandwidth you need, start comparison shopping around your local internet service providers at that bandwidth level. Do keep in mind however that Internet use is only continuing to grow, so you may want to add a little ‘padding ‘ to your needs estimates so that you don’t have to make changes again just a few months down the line.
For the sake of your business’ data security and that of your customers, your public and private WiFi networks must be as secure as possible. The best option for security in general right now is certainly not the older WEP (“Wired Equivalent Privacy”) protocol, as it has a number of known weaknesses and is generally considered risky, but many businesses are still making use of it. WPA (“WiFi Protected Access”) is stronger, and WPA2 stronger still so make sure that your networks are making use of one of them, even if that involves a router upgrade.
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