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January 3, 2007

Wireless internet access – be my guest

European WiFi network operator The Cloud has undertaken research investigating how enterprises provide secure wireless internet access to visiting staff, partners, contractors, and guests. The research reveals that allowing guest access is reasonably common, with 59% of respondents offering guest internet access by special request only, and 21% routinely providing ad hoc access.

By CBR Staff Writer

Most participants believed there are benefits in supplying guest access to the network, with the reasons for this identified as fostering goodwill with clients and partners, increasing contractor efficiency – thereby reducing costs, and increasing staff flexibility.

In spite of the recognition of these drivers, a number of concerns were highlighted with regard to the implications of opening up the network to guests. There is no surprise that security came out as the number one issue, with other worries being the legal liability of becoming a service provider, additional administration workload, compliance legislation, and the absence of a business case. In fact, due to the security risks, 20% of those polled indicated that there are currently no plans to enable visitors to have access to the corporate network.

In order to help organizations provide visitor access, GuestBridge, from The Cloud Enterprise WiFi Solutions, will be available in early 2007. It needs minimal upfront investment, can utilize existing enterprise WiFi infrastructures, and overlays suitable security mechanisms. The solution supports connections to a number of service providers, connectivity for different devices, as well as internal and external VPNs. It enables the provision of consistent user experience and the appropriate service level for each type of user.

Connect Spot is a small UK-based wireless internet service provider (WISP), based in Aldermaston near Reading. It provides standalone on-campus wireless solutions for the corporate market, enabling suppliers and clients access to the internet while on-site, without impacting the existing IT infrastructure. The solution is managed remotely by the company and technical support is provided by a helpline, which adds no additional overhead to the existing IT infrastructure administration.

A UK firm of management accountants is using the Connect Spot solution to provide its guests with internet access without compromising its own network. The main benefit is that visiting clients are able to spend the day in meetings, safe in the knowledge that they can remain in contact via email and have access to corporate information during the visit. This makes the experience of working with the firm much more rewarding and also provides the client with a better service.

The expectation is that visitors will be able to avail themselves of wireless access when on an organization’s campus. The requirement for secure, cost-effective guest access can no longer be ignored and a managed services solution is a way of achieving this.

Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)

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