What is True Managed WiFi?
For students and other multi-tenant property residents, high-speed internet service is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity. Internet access is commonly referred to as the “fourth utility” and is viewed by many to be THE MOST IMPORTANT UTILITY™.
With an array of internet service options available, it can be challenging to determine which one best meets your and your residents’ needs. And vendors whose service is not true managed WiFi use creative service descriptions—WiFi Ready, Advanced WiFi, Instant WiFi, Bulk Cable Modem—to make their services sound more appealing and to cause confusion and obfuscation among buyers.
In this blog post, we delve into the world of managed WiFi and compare it with other internet service options so you understand differences and can make an informed decision for your properties and residents.
High-Speed Internet Access Options
From streaming high-definition content to conducting seamless video conferences and online gaming, the demand for high-speed internet has never been greater. Below, we explore various options for obtaining reliable high-bandwidth internet access—traditional wired broadband, Wireless internet service providers (WISPs), Mobile data plans, Cellular fixed wireless (FWA), and true Managed WiFi—and delve into the advantages and limitations of each option from an MDU perspective.
Traditional Wired Broadband
The most common type of internet service, traditional wired broadband, uses physical cables (such as fiber, Ethernet, DSL, or cable) to deliver internet connectivity to your location. While it has been the go-to option for years, it does have some drawbacks. Installation can be complex, requiring professional assistance, and mobility is limited to the location where the cables are installed. Furthermore, maintenance and troubleshooting can be time-consuming, leading to potential downtime.
Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs)
WISPs offer internet connectivity through wireless signals, sometimes called Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), typically using radio frequency technology. They can be a viable alternative in areas where wired infrastructure is lacking or costly to deploy. While WISPs offer flexibility, their reliability can be affected by environmental factors like distance, obstructions, wireless interference, and weather conditions. Additionally, speed and bandwidth may vary based on network congestion and signal strength, impacting the overall user experience.
Mobile Data Plans
Mobile data plans allow users to access the internet through their mobile devices using cellular LTE or 5G networks. They offer convenience and mobility, making them popular for on-the-go connectivity. However, data caps and throttling can limit usage, leading to additional charges or slower speeds. Mobile networks may also experience congestion during peak hours, negatively impacting performance with slow data transmission, latency, and jitter.
Moreover, mobile data plans are primarily designed for individual single family home use and may not be suitable for MDUs or businesses with higher data demands or high-rise structures.
Cellular Fixed Wireless (FWA)
Some providers are now offering Cellular coverage known as FWA (e.g., 5G FWA from Verizon and T-Mobile). It is relatively low-cost, and it is very fast to deploy. Customers can run into bandwidth capacity issues, however, as more customers purchase the service.
FWA is designed primarily for use at street level in single-family homes and in mid-rise buildings and usually does not work well above 10 or 12 stories or in dense multi-tenant buildings. Customers will still need to run their own WiFi router connected to their 5G Modem. Maximum speeds available are typically 200mbps with no guarantee of speeds.
Managed WiFi, also known as WiFi as a Service (WaaS), is a comprehensive solution that provides end-to-end WiFi connectivity and management. It eliminates the hassle of installing, configuring, and maintaining a WiFi network, making it an attractive option for MDUs, businesses, educational institutions, and hospitality venues. Managed WiFi offers several advantages:
Managed WiFi can easily accommodate a growing number of users and devices without compromising performance. Since the network is managed by professionals, they can optimize and expand the infrastructure to meet evolving demands.
Managed WiFi providers offer enterprise-grade equipment, ensuring superior coverage, speed, and reliability. They can deploy access points strategically to eliminate dead zones and provide seamless connectivity across the premises.
With managed WiFi, network administrators have a centralized dashboard to monitor and manage the entire network. They can enforce security protocols, control bandwidth allocation, and troubleshoot issues remotely, minimizing downtime and enhancing security. Systems from DojoNetworks™ also use artificial intelligence and machine learning to maximize each customer connection in real time.
Managed WiFi solutions allow providers or properties to offer a guest network, so residents don’t need to share their wireless credentials. The networks can be built so that the residents’ WiFi network is encrypted and secure, enabling them to roam throughout the property within their secure network. This ensures a seamless user experience while protecting sensitive data.
Managed WiFi providers offer round-the-clock technical support, ensuring prompt assistance in case of any issues. This saves time and resources for businesses that may lack in-house IT expertise.
Some managed WiFi providers, like DojoNetworks, support WiFi calling and Passpoint, which automates cell phone calling over WiFi for most providers, eliminating cellular dead spots. This functionality can eliminate the need to install distributed antenna systems (DAS) or cellular repeaters.
While traditional wired broadband, WISPs, and mobile data plans have their merits, managed WiFi emerges as a comprehensive solution that addresses the limitations of other internet service options. With its scalability, robust infrastructure, centralized management, customization, security, and reliable support, managed WiFi provides an efficient and hassle-free solution for MDUs and organizations that depend on seamless internet connectivity.
Is Your Service True Managed WiFi?
If you have an internet service provider now or are searching for one, there are specific questions you can ask to determine if their solution is truly managed WiFi:
- Will we and our residents need a modem to access your service? If the answer is “Yes” or the term “modem” is mentioned in any part of the proposed solution, it’s not managed WiFi.
Managed WiFi consists of an enterprise grade Ethernet- and fiber-based network with Ethernet to the resident and WiFi access points that are powered via POE (Power over the Ethernet cable). If there are modems used anywhere in the system, it’s not a managed WiFi system, even if managed WiFi access points are used.
- Will we own the wired internet network infrastructure? If the answer is “No,” your search for a managed WiFi vendor should continue.
Cable companies use distributed access systems to provide internet access, leveraging old technologies to get service deployed quickly. Unfortunately, for you and your residents, a host of service and support issues are inherent in the cable company solution. In addition, the technology is not vendor agnostic, meaning that it will only work for the cable company. You, the property owner, own no infrastructure and have no assets.
True managed WiFi for apartment communities means that the vendor builds an enterprise-class network into your property, using standard fiber and Ethernet infrastructure that any qualified networking company can operate. And, you own the network, adding value to your property.
The wired managed WiFi network infrastructure extends from an MDF (or Main Data Room) to every building, every apartment, to every common space, and in some cases, to every bedroom. It’s then overlaid with a WiFi network using POE (Power over Ethernet) powered WiFi access points from a company such as Ruckus.
- Will your solution provide reliable internet across my entire property? If the answer is “No,” you can do better.
In a true managed WiFi scenario, the WiFi access points connect to a cloud-based controller that uses artificial intelligence to maximize the wireless signals and channels so that the customer device experience is optimized, no matter where the customer is on your property. DojoNetworks envelopes the property in a “WiFi bubble” so residents have reliable service anywhere on their network, and the property owner can deploy wireless devices for building management and asset protection anywhere on the property.
- Do you install the equipment and manage the network? True managed WiFi means that the vendor manages the network and maintains the equipment. So, with this question, a “No” means no.
- Does your solution integrate with our property management system, enabling you to manage the entire customer experience, including 24/7 support? The required answer here is “Yes.”
The managed WiFi provider will handle all support calls and not count on you or your staff to provide support to the residents or to troubleshoot any equipment. They should be the customer-facing support team and brand, while still providing you with deep and detailed metrics on how well they are handling your customers’ issues.
At DojoNetworks, we integrate our innovative and industry leading Elemento™ platform with your property management system and provide end user support to every resident, down to their individual devices.
Ultimately, the choice of internet service option will depend on your specific requirements and circumstances. However, for those seeking a flexible, high-performance, and hassle-free solution, managed WiFi stands out as a reliable and future-proof choice in the realm of internet connectivity. Here are some additional resources to help you make an informed decision regarding internet access for your property:
- What to Ask Before Choosing a Managed WiFi Vendor
- Pitfalls for MDU Owners to Avoid When Negotiating a Telecom Contract
- Select the Right WiFi Vendor for Your Property [Vendor Qualification Questionnaire]
Dojo has been providing internet to MDU apartment buildings since 2002.
Dojo has been building large-scale, highly supported WiFi networks since 2006.
Dojo has been serving the MDU space for over 20 years and has been through up to 5 renewals with customers with 100% retention.
Dojo customers experience less than a 0.5% annual ticket/trouble rate.
Dojo doesn’t have any third-party investors. We are cashflow positive and don't have outsiders forcing us to squeeze out more margin or profitability at the expense of our customers (you).
Want references? Dojo will happily put you in direct contact with customers we serve, so you get a firsthand account of the DojoNetworks experience from businesses like yours.