Maximizing value when launching new Wi-Fi solutions
by Bo Söderberg
Many CSPs are looking into the possibilities of developing their business by offering products, features and services that will improve Wi-Fi quality and the end customer’s overall smart home experience. This is a great way of adding value, but only as long as the CSPs themselves are able to take full responsibility for the quality of the services they’re offering – from start to finish. In this article, we will take a closer look at how managed services will help you secure maximum value when launching Wi-Fi solutions.
Why remote management is so important
Apart from providing a well-functioning Internet connection, delivering high-performance Wi-Fi is becoming increasingly important to meet growing customer expectations, and can be a differentiator for the service offering.
Launching new offers of products, services and features that improves Wi-Fi quality is, however, not a matter of becoming a reseller of customer premises equipment (CPE) such as Wi-Fi routers, cybersecurity devices and smart home controllers. CSPs need to take on full responsibility from start to finish. In order for the end customer to install and use these new Wi-Fi solutions, receive proactive maintenance and get the right support when something goes wrong, integrated managed services are key. Remote management via an auto configuration system (ACS) enables CSPs to provision all gateways with new settings, services and updated software while monitoring the Wi–Fi quality and resolve issues when they occur. Offering managed services can reduce operational costs as well as improving customer satisfaction through shorter and fewer support calls.
When a CSP offer unmanaged WiFi products, they can’t support their customers when something goes wrong, since there is no way of knowing what’s going on inside the customer’s Wi-Fi network. In such cases the end customer might as well buy their equipment from any retailer.
Look out for lock-in
When looking for new consumer premises equipment (CPE) to help improve the quality of Wi-Fi, many CPE vendors will also offer an ACS as a part of a package deal. This may, however, not be the ultimate solution. Unless that ACS is device agnostic, (using CWMP for management of devices from different suppliers) you end up in a lock-in situation where you are no longer in control of the rate at which you can launch new products, features and services. That particular CPE supplier may only provide some of the equipment you want to offer your customers, or they might even provide them all – for now. Regardless, you can’t be sure that they at all given points in time are going to share your vision about which features and services to launch. Turning to other CPE vendors won’t help you, since the ACS doesn’t support their products, which in turn means there is no way of introducing any competition regarding price point.
Additional problems arise if you start noticing that the CPE provider’s products are underperforming, and you want to go with another vendor instead. ACS platforms are usually integrated with a lot of other systems – support, billing, provisioning, monitoring and so on – which makes it complicated to switch.
What value does a managed solution add?
How then will a managed Wi-Fi solution benefit you as a CSP? Operational expenses (OPEX) for support will decrease as the average time for support calls decrease due to better insight from the support team. With a device agnostic ACS the CSP will increase the negotiation power which can have positive impact on the CPE net prices and capital expenses (CAPEX). Last but not least, it also gives the CSP a competitive edge as it decreases the time-to-market (TTM) of new services and products.
As for customers, the added value is giving them an experience that meets their expectations. Customers these days expect more than just a reliable Internet connection. They need to know that they will get stable coverage everywhere inside the home and optimal delivery of OTT services – both of which require a well-functioning Wi-Fi solution. They also need to receive good and efficient customer service when things go wrong, which nowadays also includes support that covers quality of Wi-Fi and smart home services. This is, however, only possible to offer if you have access to manage their network devices – gateways, mesh equipment and so on. Without being able to coordinate and support the services you offer, you can’t take on the full responsibility for the customer experience.
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