SMBs have a number of suitors and technologies to choose from these days, with the latest courtship coming from AT&T, which announced a new WiFi-Small Site service for the enterprise Thursday.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) WiFi-Small Site's value proposition is straightforward. The carrier will provide a business its own self-install access point so they can then offer their customers free public WiFi separate from their own internal WiFi offering. The carrier says it's ideal for professional offices, restaurants and retail stores wanting to offer branded WiFi for public use -- and collect customer details from it -- and keep their employees on their own private, secure networks.
One AT&T customer, Oil & Vinegar, says it's using the service in its retail outlet as a way to encourage customers to interact with it on social media as they browse the store.
WiFi-Small Site runs on a business's existing connections and requires speeds of at least 6Mbit/s. The carrier is offering it as part of its All for Less package targeted at small businesses looking to bundle enterprise services and productivity apps. Earlier this month, AT&T also announced a partnership with Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) to bundle its office services with AT&T devices.
Why this matters
When it comes to customer acquisitions, all eyes are on the SMB market right now, especially with the cable industry making strong inroads into it. AT&T has said it will be first-and-foremost an enterprise-focused company going forward, a statement it is reinforcing with announcements like WiFi-Small Site. Earlier this month, T-Mobile US Inc. launched its latest Uncarrier move, squarely focused on the enterprise market, and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) unveiled a complete Workplace-as-a-Service offering designed for the SMB space.
This is a space that has long challenged the major US wireless operators, deemed to be too expensive and too time- and resource-consuming to crack into. Or, they figured it was locked up by small, local providers. That attitude is starting to change, however.
Virtualization and the cloud are helping to reduce the need for human capital by automating processes and moving support online. Small cells and WiFi are also making it easier on the connectivity front, giving SMBs options that are easy to install and don't break the bank. The SMB market has a lot of potential to bring in new revenues for service providers, and the good news is, companies in this space now have more options than ever before.
- AT&T Sees Brightest Future in the Enterprise
- T-Mobile Looks to Shake Up Mobile Market for Businesses
- Sprint Officially Unveils Workplace-as-a-Service
- Might SDN & NFV Help Telcos Crack Open the SMB Market?
— Sarah Thomas, , Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading