Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg may have raised some eyebrows when he said that connectivity should be a human right, but many smart device users would agree. Research has shown that as many as 32% globally rely on more than one device during the average working day to conduct their duties and half of the world’s CIOs have said that they view Wi-Fi as an essential part of operations.
Creating a Wi-Fi network in the workplace used to be a matter of creating a few hotspots so that employees could connect to the network via their laptops. Today, Wi-Fi (and network security) has become far more critically important.
“The consumerisation of technology has meant that employees are bringing new, smart devices to work – of which about 40% are said to be unsecured. Added to that is the implementation of new mobile applications, and the need to connect workers as they travel across campus, offices and factories,” says Shane Chorley, Executive Head of Network and Operations at Vox Telecom. “It’s become crystal clear that businesses need to create enterprise-strength Wi-Fi networks that will allow them to manage devices, drilling down to a granular per user, per device level if required.”
It is with this need in mind that Vox Telecom developed Vox Aura, a fully managed corporate Wi-Fi solution that accommodates enterprise-wide mobility and Bring-Your-Own-Device initiatives. “Vox Aura empowers users to create and enforce policies across the entire network to devices and applications, from a single integrated platform,” Chorley explains. “It is extremely easy to exert control over devices and users. For example, a client may find that all their iPhone users tend to use the network to upgrade their software first thing in the morning – they can restrict the usage of that particular device at that particular time.”
Corporate managed Wi-Fi is also seen as essential tool when viewed in light of recent regulatory changes, such as the introduction of the Protection of Personal Information bill. “Financial institutions, EXCO meeting rooms and medical or insurance companies that handle sensitive information need to be very conscious of data leaks,” says Chorley. “The system would allow them to restrict applications on phones in areas where that information is discussed or handled.”
Visitor access management is also simplified, but highly controlled. “Typically a visitor would be given a username and a password if they want to access Wi-Fi, which is far from ideal because that user will retain access to the network after they leave,” says Chorley. “Now users can have the receptionist create a user name and password that is limited to use for a day or a few hours, or I can log onto an integrated panel requesting the person I am going to see to provide me with Wi-Fi access via email.”
The ease of access whilst maintaining secure control over the network makes the product well-suited to the retail and hospitality environs. “Franchises have approached us asking us to create a system whereby any customer can connect to their Wi-Fi at any branch or restaurant across the country,” says Chorley. “The process to log on across different venues has always been difficult and sometimes, off-putting, for users. Sometimes staff members are not able to provide support or logon details. This makes it easy for customers to enjoy their experience at various branches, entirely hassle-free. Moreover, businesses can still protect their network and restrict the usage of Wi-Fi to certain applications (such as email and browsing) to prevent customers from sitting at a table for hours, upgrading their iOS!”
Chorley says the system is ideally suited to companies with at least two branches and numerous mobile users. “The global trend has been to move to devices that are Wi-Fi enabled only – up to 90% of new devices in the USA can only connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi. It’s definitely a trend to bear in mind as businesses (and their employees) will continue to become more mobile.”