AT&T (NYSE: T) is looking to strengthen the bond it has gained with its growing base of small to medium business (SMB) customers that use its U-verse and wireless services, particularly restaurants and retailers, with its new Wi-Fi Small Site service.
Among the many benefits of this service for the resource-strapped SMB is it enables a business to extend a public Wi-Fi hotspot to all its customers at no additional cost to the business or end-user. It also includes two network domains: a public network for customers that can be tied with the business' brand and a private network that only employees can access.
In addition to providing Wi-Fi access, the service can be used as part of a disaster recovery or continuity of operations plan with the option to connect to a wireless 4G LTE connection.
The service can run over on a business' existing wireline broadband connection, but qualifying businesses need to have at least a 6 Mbps connection. AT&T Wi-Fi Small Site will also be offered as part of All for Less, which lets small businesses bundle services their way and choose the right services and productivity applications that fits the needs of their particular business.
One potential target AT&T could bring the Small Site service to is its growing base of SMB customers that have taken not only wireless, but also its U-verse data service. During the fourth quarter, AT&T reported that it once again saw gains in U-verse broadband sales to businesses, adding 31,000 U-verse subscribers.
Already, the Wi-Fi service is gaining interest from local retailers like Oil & Vinegar, a gourmet retail franchise that sees it as a potential amenity to offer its customers at its stores in Dallas.
"We believe that offering free Wi-Fi will encourage our customers to interact more with us on our social channels and we are excited to share new recipes and new ingredients while they browse through the store," said Cheryl Kobza, owner of two Oil & Vinegar franchises, in a release.
AT&T's move is part of what has become a growing trend. According to an IDC study, worldwide cloud-managed infrastructure and managed services revenue will reach $2.5 billion by 2018.
Other service providers like Frontier Communications are moving in a similar direction.
Frontier may not be a traditional wireless player, but the telco revealed during Adtran's Connect event in Huntsville, Ala., last August that it is seeing a growing demand to provide Wi-Fi services to local businesses. The service provider won a deal to provide the American Tobacco Campus in Durham, N.C., with managed Wi-Fi service that will give 75 companies their own Wi-Fi access points.
- see the release
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