Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs) have become the key piece of any enterprise’s core infrastructure and network planning. Businesses that have publicly accessible areas (lobbies, hospitals, airports, etc.) deploy WLAN for their mobile visitors to offer them comfort/convenience, and to improve the efficiency of their own business tasks. The Public WiFi can also be a means for generating revenue for that company or business. Here are a few of the general benefits:
- Serve your staff and increase efficiency with the provisioning of wireless applications.
- Serve your staff and tenants by providing bandwidth.
- Serve your public, by providing value-added wireless services.
- Generate revenue for yourself by billing visitors for internet access and value-added services.
- Ensure better, faster, and smoother overall business operation.
With the number of mobile devices and users increasing every day, applications and services are quickly becoming mobile oriented. People prefer staying connected wherever they go. That is why restaurants, cafes, museums, parks, stations, hospitals, airports – and even entire cities – are quickly deploying PWLAN or Public Wireless Local Area Networks. Their use is not only for recreational purposes, but also delivering information and performing necessary tasks that require the internet as well. Even schools are deploying WLANs with restricted access to websites to promote better learning and communication.
One particular area that gains huge benefits from WLAN deployments is airports. Los Angeles Airport (LAX) is an example. It currently offers 44 minutes of free Wi-Fi service in most public areas of the airport. Consumers can pay for higher speeds or extended use.
A WLAN is usually deployed at an airport for both public and private use. It is used to provide networking services to multiple users by giving both private access to personnel and public access to customers. Several SSID and VLAN functionalities are used to make the provision of public and private access to the same WLAN possible.
Airlines employ the private use of the airport’s WLAN for baggage handling and passenger check-ins. A private SSID/VLAN can be used by an airline for added security over the shared WLAN. There are several other communication and security protocol that are employed by staff and employees to ensure the safety of the data being shared. Some key features of the private use of wireless communication for airports in particular include:
- Low investment and operating cost
- Real time information access for all staff, employees, aircraft, and vehicles
- Easy reconfiguration of network, both logically and physically
- Autonomous operation using shared resources
- Improved efficiency of all processes
Public use of the WLAN involves providing internet access to passengers and visitors through the deployment of access points through a service provider. An open SSID on it’s own VLAN, which the public access users connect to, channels traffic to the service provider’s router located on the airport’s premises. The provider can then validate and grant access to the users to the internet. Providing Wi-Fi internet access to customers and visitors includes the following benefits for airports:
- Generate additional revenue through ads and value-added services
- Faster and easier access to information about flights for customers
- Employ an RTLS system to provide additional value for customers and make operations easier
- Improved customer experience
Free Wi-Fi at public places is a necessity now. Social media is the chief source of information and communication for people and they prefer being connected to it at all times. This makes social media the most effective medium for communicating news to the masses. The need for free Wi-Fi at airports is greater than ever. People just don’t feel comfortable without scrolling through their favorite feeds regularly.
Apart from its recreational and information propagation uses, wireless internet access is a great way of improving customer experience. While free internet is available for all in airports, at the cost of an advertisement for a limited time, paid plans can be purchased for higher speeds and longer durations. Wireless internet offers a convenience that becomes more and more essential every day.
RTLS or Real Time Location System solution is a great way of increasing management efficiency of tasks while increasing customer satisfaction at the same time. It is a way of tracking people and asset location in real time with zero impact on WLAN performance. It is a great way of obtaining visibility on missing or delayed passengers. Tracking them to their exact locations and using this data can help you to create better layouts and staffing choices for easier customer navigation. Not just customers but employees and other assets like baggage and equipment can be tracked using RTLS as well. You can also monitor the health of your operations on a physical level and pass on that information to customers about an out-of-order or broken equipment to avoid. Based on the customer’s’ current location near their regularly frequented store, you can alert them with a pleasant reminder to make a stop at their favorite shop.
RTLS and public access to a deployed WLAN at an airport overall is a great way of improving customer experience generating additional revenue through value added services and targeted reminders.
Although most airports offer internet access for their customers, a robust WLAN infrastructure for private use is not the norm as of yet. Offering a high-speed WLAN has numerous benefits including lower costs, easier reconfiguration and improved efficiency of all operations. By employing the necessary security protocols, an organization can make their data secure even over a shared WLAN. However, since an organization’s onboard staff may be lacking in expertise to effectively plan, design, and implement a fully functioning wave 2 system, it is better to employ the services of professional services company to make the jump to the next stage in WLAN evolution.