Another clever acronym is now available for purchase, this time for facilities managers purchasing large-scale WiFi systems: it’s called a S.M.A.R.T. Network and it’s the latest from WiFi behemoth Boingo Wireless.
The firm, which is publicly traded, has seen a softening in stock price to around $7 from its March 23, 2012 peak of $12.50. Some analysts suggest that a growing competitive base for the services – including partnerships between targeted advertisers NinthDecimal (previously JiWire) and WiFi network service provider Advanced Wireless Group – has led to a softening in price competitiveness.
As competition increases alongside consumer expectations for supported or free WiFi, facilities managers must contend with increased pricing due to faster speeds, wider coverage and more devices than ever.
Boingo’s answer to the growing complexity of WiFi requirements is to reimagine its core product – thus the S.M.A.R.T. moniker, which stands for the following:
Secure: Each network will support WPA2 encryption and Passpoint, while being configured in a way to protect the core network. Passpoint is important here, as it allows a fast and secure WiFi connection to users with existing Passpoint profiles. Multi-platform: Mobile devices have become the go-to travel tools, and yet this segment of devices has its own usage profile. One WiFi network cannot meet the data needs of one type of user; it must be flexible to accomodate new and emerging devices. The company says “S.M.A.R.T. Networks are designed to optimize the Wi-Fi experience, platform-by-platform. Boingo’s classes of service help users and service providers pick the experience they desire, while the network intelligently optimizes that experience for the platform itself.” Analytics-driven: Analyzing utilization offers opportunities to improve service and understand where and when bottlenecks occur. Boingo says that its “networks are location-aware, enabling venues to better serve customers with actionable business intelligence derived from historic and predictive analytics.” Responsive: These networks must “balance flexibility, capacity and connection performance with an adaptable network infrastructure. S.M.A.R.T. Networks continually evaluate the service being provided, ensuring that it’s delivering the defined user experience for each class of service.” Tiered: The ability to tier off certain styles of consumption allows not only for some potential revenue when faster speeds are paywalled, but also to ensure that the correct capacity is delivered to the correct user at the right time of need.
The new networks are not only meant to be deployed in airport settings, but in any large space where connectivity is required. Given the shift in expectations, many users are clamoring for WiFi in venues of all kind. This official spin on the new alignment of WiFi network services allows Boingo to be ideally positioned to deliver to these sorts of clients.
Marc Patterson, vice president of products for Boingo:
The historic methods of designing and building networks had to be completely readdressed because of the explosion in the devices and applications available and the data consumed. Our new S.M.A.R.T. Networks will provide more choice and security to passengers, and enhanced network insights, responsiveness and scalability to venue owners through state-of-the-art technologies.
Of course, with players like Google Fiber in town, even Boingo is relegated to selling the advertising on the backs of the networks created by others. It truly is a hyper-competitive environment, and so a reimagining of the product on offer to meet shifting consumer demands is a welcome addition to the conversation.
One only has to check out the average airport download speeds of the larger carriers in the United States to understand that the larger carriers are gunning for a piece of this pie as well. And with AT&T building in-flight LTE, these large infrastructure bids are only going to become more competitive.
NB: Business image courtesy Shutterstock.