Most businesses make it their mission to provide their guests and customers with a reliable wireless connection – It’s vital for a successful guest experience across industries.
If you are in the process of upgrading your marina site, then the dependability and consistency of the available Wi-Fi should be part of your upgrade plans.
The optimum Wi-Fi offering should enable near continuous connectivity throughout your site. It’s imperative that guests moving around your marina don’t have their connection drop out.
Strong, reliable Wi-Fi isn’t an amenity that guests will compromise on. It’s become an expectation in everyday life, regardless of location or industry. Both potential and existing boating customers will want a good internet connection.
Perhaps you’re thinking that most boaters are there for leisure rather than business, so maybe a reliable internet connection isn’t the be all and end all. However, studies have shown that nearly 70% of holiday-makers within employment choose to take a smart device along with them on their break specifically to enable them to connect to work.
This is just one of the many reasons that your marina needs to be able to offer customers reliable Wi-Fi services.
So what questions do you need to be asking yourselves when starting to plan your marina’s WI-Fi network?
Here are some things to consider during the Wi-Fi Planning and Design phase.
Where is the ISP entry point?
You will need to consider where on your site the Internet Service Provider’s equipment is. Where this entry point is, affects what you will need to deliver the internet to your customer device. You may need Ethernet cabling, network Power-over-Ethernet Switches and/or Wireless Access Points to get the internet service delivered from the ISP entry point to the client device.
How far away is this ISP entry point from the area you need to cover?
Knowing this distance will help you work out the coverage area and what equipment you will need to get the internet from the ISP entry point to the end user, and where best to place this equipment. It will also help you to identify the type of network devices you will require.
How much bandwidth are you receiving from your ISP?
You will need to know the amount of bandwidth you are getting from your ISP in order to work out the maximum internet speed you will be able to offer your employees, boaters and guests. The more bandwidth you have, the more guest devices you can connect to, and thus the higher the quality of Wi-Fi service you will be able to offer your customers.
Do you know how many users you are likely to have?
Having an accurate estimate of how many users / devices you are likely to have connected at one time will help you to determine how many Access Points you will need throughout your marina. The higher your average number of users, the more Access Points you will need.
Is quality of service important to you?
We are assuming that you’re doing this exercise not just to tick a box, but because you really care about the quality of the internet you’re providing to your customers. Knowing how much access you want to offer your staff, boaters and guests will help you work out how to place your Access Points. There are two main services to look at here.
The first is a Hotspot Service. This is where Wi-Fi services will only be available in specific areas. Any guests wanting to connect to your Wi-Fi services will need to go to those specific areas. These could be the clubhouse, café or other areas of recreation.
The other service would be virtually everywhere. This would include on the dock as well as their boat and throughout the entire marina.
The Access Point requirements for these services would be rather different.
Is there any likely interference from buildings?
It’s wise to consider what your buildings are made of, as some materials could be obstructive to wireless signals. Are they made of wood or concrete or metal? What about the walls, ceilings and doors? Think about how this will affect the wireless signal, and make your Access Point placements accordingly.
How far do your current Ethernet cables go?
If you already have Ethernet cables running, how far do they go? Do they go to the docks or the ends of the docks? If you already have proper, shielded Ethernet cables to your docks then continuing on a wireless service from here is pretty easy. If Ethernet cabling is something you are currently considering, then it could be worth your while doing this to the end of your docks to make further Wi-Fi deployment smooth sailing.
If you don’t have ethernet cabling to the docks, and this isn’t something you want or can do, then a secure wireless link could be the option for you. This link or wireless bridge will carry the signal on to a designated location. The devices on each side of the link or bridge are linked to another device – This could be a network switch, camera or router.
Is a surveillance system part of your marina upgrade plans?
If you are planning to implement a new network-based surveillance system or expand an existing one, then you will need to consider the bandwidth usage of your entire site. The higher resolution your surveillance cameras, the more bandwidth they will need, so do consider how clear you need the surveillance to be e.g. facial recognition, number plate visuals etc.
Surveillance systems can provide comfort and security for both staff and customers, and it’s more commonplace to see them as a part of a marina than to not. Footage from this system could provide you with evidence of liability, vandalism and theft.
How many docks do you want to provide Wi-Fi access to?
You need to work out how many docks you would like to provide with wireless internet access. Will it be some of the docks or all of them? Knowing this number will help you identify how many Access Points you will need. It will also determine where the AP’s need to be placed. You may also need additional wireless links or bridges. Knowing how many docks you are providing with Wi-Fi will also help you to work out an estimate of the average number of users at a given time using your network.
Are your boaters likely to try and connect to your network on board their boat?
You need to know whether your boaters have on-board devices that they are likely to want to connect to your network. Whether or not your Wi-Fi network is deemed successful will often be determined by the experience of your end user. If your customer suffers intermittent coverage and dead spots, then your Wi-Fi network is not doing what it’s intended for.
Taking these things into consideration will help you to successfully carry out your site planning. You need to know that the service you provide is enough for the demand.
If this all seems a little overwhelming, then why not leave it to the professionals? Our Wi-Fi experts have the expertise and knowledge to successfully carry out a Wi-Fi Site Survey of your marina, and then design and deploy a Wi-Fi network according to the necessary specifications.
To chat through the options for your marina, give our Wi-Fi experts a call today.