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Vector cartoon illustration of a men and a woman using their phones, tablets, laptop in the wi-fi zone

Customer WiFi: Good Business Sense Or Security Risk?

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Access to the internet has become something that we all expect, no matter where we are. If you’re running a business where customers spend a lot of time on your premises, then you should seriously consider setting up free customer WiFi for them. Here’s why…

Gaze through the window of any busy pub, train station, restaurant or hotel foyer, and you’re almost guaranteed to see scores of people staring at mobile devices – tablets, laptops and, in the majority of cases, smartphones. Whatever their choice of hardware, though, it’s likely that most of these people will be connected to the internet. Maybe they’re checking their emails or messages on Facebook and WhatsApp. Or perhaps they’re reading the news or checking the stock market to see how their shares are doing. Or maybe they’re watching Netflix or one of the millions of cat videos that get shared every single day in the UK.

As you look at these individuals, their noses buried in their screens, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to lament the demise of good, old-fashioned conversation. But if you’re running a business, then your priorities lie elsewhere: if your customers want internet access while they’re on your premises, then you should seriously consider giving it to them.

Benefits Of Offering Free WiFi

The solution in most cases is a customer WiFi network. Although many of your customers will have their own data packages with their mobile network providers, free WiFi means they don’t have to use up their often-limited data allowances. They also don’t have to worry about getting a 4G/3G signal. Plus wi-fi connections have the potential to be much faster than any current-generation mobile connection.

Free customer wifi
Offering free WiFi can persuade customers to stick around and spend more.

Of course, if you run a business where patrons don’t spend a long time on site, then the benefits of offering free customer WiFi will be limited. But when you want customers to stick around and spend more money (like in a coffee shop or pub), it makes sense to provide them with free broadband access – especially as it can actually help to increase footfall. It’s no wonder the number of hotspots globally is expected to grow six-fold from 2016 to 2021.

Offering free internet access could also improve your business’s image, by showing customers that you’re not behind the times.

You might also find that the number of customer reviews increases, thanks to online services like Google Now. This location-sensitive service, which is found on most modern Android phones, pops up and asks users to review a particular business when it finds they’re on or close to the premises. In addition to GPS and cellular information, Google’s location services use WiFi to work out where you are, so your free hotspot might help. If you have plenty of happy customers, this is a good way to spread the word.

Getting Customer WiFi Set Up

Once you’ve decided that offering free customer WiFi would benefit your business, you still have some choices to make. For a start, can you set it up yourself or do you need the assistance of a professional IT company? This depends largely on the size of your premises, the complexity of the network, your budget and how much you know about setting up wireless networks. If in doubt, take the professional option, because you want to make sure your connection is not only fast and efficient, but also secure, so you don’t put your business at risk.

Whichever route you decide to take, there are a few different ways to set up a public hotspot, each with its own pros and cons.

WiFi connected devices - customer wifi
Security is an absolute must for any WiFi network

 Using An Open WiFi Network

The easiest way to share broadband internet is by leaving the WiFi network open, meaning no password is required to gain access. But don’t do this! Not only does it make your network vulnerable, it also removes any control you have over who’s using the wi-fi connection.

Set Up A Guest Network

A common method of offering customer wi-fi is by sharing the wireless password with them. The best way to do this is to set up a guest network, an option that nearly all modern routers include. By doing this, you can have separate networks for your staff and your customers, each with its own password and security settings.

Get A Hotspot Management System

With one of these systems, you have even more control over who uses your wi-fi. When they attempt to the connect to the internet, they’ll typically be taken to a web portal, which requires them to log in to gain access. This enables you to control exactly how much access they get and to track their usage.


Need help setting up your business’s wi-fi? TMB can explain your options clearly, and our expert technicians will get you up and running in no time at all. Drop us a line and let us know what you need.

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TMB Privacy Policy

Why do we hold personal data?

Like any business, TMB Group has to keep personal data about staff, clients and potential customers. When you fill in the contact form on our website, for example, we need to keep a record so we can get back to you. Data is also held so we can deliver our services and so we can provide useful information, such as security update news.

What data do we keep?
Depending on our relationship with you, we’ll hold information such as your first and last names, your email address, your phone number and your postal address. We will also possibly have details about your business and those who work for you. If you’re a customer, then we may have some of your banking detail so we’re able to accept payments for the services we provide.

How is your data stored?

As a responsible IT company, TMB stores personal data on secured computer systems. Anything that is archived will be placed on encrypted drives.

We do use third-party customer management software, Autotask, which means data may be stored on their servers, but only the data we need to deliver our services. The same goes for the Microsoft services we use, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, which store information on Microsoft’s cloud servers. We also use Mailchimp for marketing purposes: to send emails and to manage subscriber lists.

These third parties are not permitted to share your data or to use it for marketing purposes. You can find Autotask’s privacy policy here: https://www.autotask.com/privacy-policy. Microsoft’s privacy policy for Office 365 is here: https://www.microsoft.com/online/legal/v2/?docid=43. Mailchimp’s policy is here: https://mailchimp.com/legal/privacy.

How long do we keep your data?

We will keep your data in our systems until it is no longer relevant to our business, but you can request that we remove or update it at any time. We will also inform any relevant third parties of your request.

Access to your information

The key thing to remember is that your data belongs to you. That means you can request copies of your personal data any time you like, or to access and update it. You also have the right to be forgotten, so if you ask that we delete your data, we will do so or provide a valid reason why we are unable to. We will, of course, require proof of your identity before addressing any such request.

Depending on your request, your information may be provided to you electronically. In such cases, it will be provided in a commonly used format.

Unsubscribing and deletion

Unsubscribing is not the same as a request for us to delete personal data. If, for example, you unsubscribe from a mailing list, it is necessary to keep your email address on record to prevent marketing email from being sent to you. If we were to delete that information, we would have no way to tell if you have unsubscribed. Nevertheless, you still have the right to request erasure of your personal data.

Your right to complain

If, for any reason, you are unhappy with the way your personal data is treated by us, you have the right to complain to a supervisory authority. In the UK, that would be the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Website analytics

Anyone who visits our website will automatically have data about them collected via Google Analytics. This gives us broad information about what people are doing on our website and which pages they are looking at. It does not provide us with personal information that could be used to identify individuals.

Cookies

Cookies are small text files that web browsers receive from websites. They are stored on your computer, and they enable sites to do things like remember if you’ve visited before, if you’re a customer, what your preferences are and so on. You are entitled to view our website without them, but you may lose this kind of functionality if you do so.

International data transfers

Information that we collect may be stored and processed in and transferred between any of the countries in which we operate in order to enable us to use the information in accordance with this privacy policy.

Data controllers and processors

TMB is the controller for marketing activity and personal data/special category data we hold on our own employees, but we are the processor when processing our customers’ personal data (e.g. buying a licence for a named individual).  We  may use sub-processors for processing data given to us by customers.

What we won’t ever do is sell your data. And if you sign up to our mailing list, you’ll only receive marketing material from TMB as a result – no one else.

For any questions regarding your data, contact TMB’s technical director, Richard Shuker, at info@tmb.co.uk or write to us at A1 Endeavour Business Park, Penner Road, Havant, Hampshire, PO9 1QN..