Communications giant Comcast Business launched a wireless gateway service built specifically for a commercial environment with an integrated modem equipped to produce dual-band WiFi signals, called the Business Wireless Gateway.
Developed by Cisco, the device and Business WiFi service are included with most Comcast Business Internet plans, and Comcast Business supports the device and provides customer service around the clock.
The private network is separate and distinct from the public WiFi, so the business is not impacted by the activity of the patrons, and no additional equipment or routers are required for public WiFi.
"Today’s ‘Main Street’ small businesses want to offer WiFi to their customers to get them in the store and keep them coming back, but concerns can arise from over security and how challenging it will be to set up and maintain a WiFi network," Matt Davis, director of consumer and small business telecom services at IDC, said in a statement. "The Business Wireless Gateway from Comcast Business gives SMBs a single-box solution to quickly set up both public and private WiFi, with public access being managed and maintained over the Comcast network. This can alleviate security concerns because customers are not accessing the same WiFi network that your employees are."
Comcast Business technicians set up the public and private WiFi networks, which are both available through one device. The separate public signal (Xfinity WiFi) for customers or visitors was found in a competitive analysis by Allion USA, to provide fastest Internet speeds in the country, compared to WiFi hotspot service providers AT&T and Boingo Wireless.
"We are making the Business Wireless Gateway available nationwide because research has proven time and again that WiFi is a game changer for brick-and-mortar-based small businesses," John Guillaume, vice president of product development with Comcast Business, said in a statement. "Many different types of customers – coffee shops, law firms, real estate offices, gyms, libraries and more – want to attract and retain visitors to their location and give employees the tools they need to be more productive. WiFi can be critical on both fronts, and this device can help make that easy to manage."
Offering free WiFi works better at keeping customers happy than common waiting area conveniences like snacks, water or magazines, according to a national survey of entrepreneurs and small business IT decision-makers conducted by Bredin Research.
Nearly eight in 10 businesses offering WiFi (79 percent) say it helps keep customers happy while they wait. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) report it has encouraged repeat business, and 55 percent say it has brought in new customers.
Those businesses that expected increased revenues in 2013 are more likely to promote the WiFi they offer (64 percent versus 38 percent of businesses that expected decreased revenues), the survey found.