In previous posts we discussed 'How to Build a Strong Service Provider Business'. In this post we will take a deeper look at Service Provider WiFi as a source of additional revenue as well as staying sticky with customers.
This year, CCI Systems (DISCLAIMER: I'm CTO at CCI Systems.), developed, designed, implemented, and supported a large outdoor WiFi deployment at Sturgis for the 75th Annual Bike Rally. #Rallywifi4u
I personally was onsite to consult with the team, configure the network, and provide troubleshooting expertise. It was a great and exciting time.
The network consisted of Cisco ASR1000 routers for ISG and subscriber control, Cisco's Wireless LAN controllers, Cisco switches, and Cisco outdoor APs. The different venues each had a set of outdoor cabinets that contained the Cisco switches and fiber connectivity to the poles. From the cabinets back was fiber connectivity to a central CO that contained aggregation switching, controllers, server hardware, the ASR1000 gateways, and 10G uplink to the Internet.
The local telephone company near Sturgis made the progressive decision to jump in on this opportunity. This ILEC worked with CCI and other partners to pull this off in a matter of months. From design to placing poles to power was an impressively quick process. The installation of APs and configuration of the network occurred rapidly.
A lot of time was spent optimizing and WiFi coverage for the high density concert and gathering areas at the event. CCI worked closely with the Cisco high-density WiFi team to get it right. The other areas were primarily camping sites, restaurants, and bars.
The major challenges were the fiber construction and powering. With the tight deadline these two things became factors that affected all other aspects. From a network perspective working through architectural challenges of creating a system to support an influx of 10's (nearly 100's) of thousands of people each day on the system consumed most technical resources.
CCI and the ILEC worked closely together to develop a marketing plan, produce marketing content, and set pricing levels. CCI provided the user portals that were seen when connecting to the WiFi network. These portals allowed attendees to purchase access as well as allowed the venue owners to put their relevant advertisement content for the attendees to see. If access was purchased at one venue the user could roam between the different venues without purchasing additional access.
Monetize the Network
To monetize the network the ILEC and CCI worked with the different venue owners (4 different venues) to get buy-in. Users were presented with a common portal that offered day and week passes. For this last event the packages were $9.95/day, $46.95/week.
There are some additional monetize options to think through for your own deployment.
- Day and week passes - simple monetization method, but requires driving users to the portals to get them to pay, the money then goes between the venue owner and the provider
- Revenue sharing with venue owners - for each event pass or camp site rental sold by the venue include a small dollar amount that goes back to the provider
- Advertisement revenue from vendors at the events with adds placed on the portals that are viewed by users
- Analytics data - a lot of information about mobile devices and users can be gathered if desired and sold back to the venue owners, vendors, or other interested parties.