Rogers launches new ‘WiFi as a service’ offering

Rogers Communications announced new managed services aimed at the medium-to-large enterprise market today, opening up a new umbrella for its subscription model services that it intends to grow wider in the near future.

Under the banner of Rogers Virtual Managed Network Services, the telco will now offer fully-managed WiFi as a service and what it’s calling a Rapid Application Development platform. The platform will have pre-built solutions for specific verticals, such as the retail industry, that help gather analytics about customer interaction with technology touch points and take action on that information.

Rogers executives billed its new managed services offerings as a way for enterprises to relieve their own IT staff from keeping the lights on and instead have them focus on creating business value.

“Things like IT infrastructure and network services should be no different from other utilities run inside your organization,” said Nitin Kawale, president of the enterprise business unit at Rogers. “Our goal is to fundamentally disrupt the industry with leapfrog products and services.”

For its WiFi as a service offering, Rogers will handle everything from setting up access points and switches on site to managing them remotely and ensuring security. Patches and upgrades are delivered through the cloud automatically. Businesses will pay for the service via a subscription model and the monthly price will include installation. Rogers didn’t release pricing details yet – that’s planned for the go-live date about a month from now.

“WiFi within your business is no longer a nice to have, it’s mandatory,” says Paul Monaghan, director of cloud and managed services at Rogers. “If you want your employees to collaborate, you need WiFi to do that.”

Once a business is using WiFi as a service, it can also subscribe to the app development platform. It’s designed to help enterprises that want to deploy their custom apps across a variety of device types.

Using some pre-built solutions from Rogers that are aimed at the retail, healthcare, and hospitality verticals, businesses can quickly assemble apps that offer customer analytics and ways to directly engage customers. Monaghan offers a retail example, where a customer using in-store WiFi could be pushed a coupon for a specific product.

“We can do simple guest portal applications where you join the guest WiFi and you’re presented with discounts,” he said.

Other pre-built modules include wayfinding display maps, embedded videos, inventory checks, a mobile POS, and more, according to Rogers.

Rogers is using Cisco technology to run the new services, and says it’s the first Canadian partner to offer virtual managed services. Expect to see more services offered in this area, Monaghan says.

Rogers also worked with Vision Critical on a survey of Canadian business leaders, conducted from Sept. 2 to 14. Here’s a look at the results in a SlideShare presentation:

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Former editorial director of IT World Canada. Current research director at Info-Tech

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