Blog post authored by Imran Idrees, Portfolio Marketing Manager at Cisco Meraki
We live in a time when most of us comfortably carry enough computing power in our pockets to simultaneously send multiple space missions to the moon and back. With such nonchalant and constant access to powerful technology, our expectations have never been higher. No matter the location – whether a small independent coffee shop or the local branch of a global coffee chain – we expect to connect to fast, reliable WiFi.
The proliferation of mobile devices and consumer expectations has also changed the network requirements of small businesses. Small businesses (less than 20 employees) increasingly require an enterprise-grade network, particularly for WiFi. However, the cost and skill to manage an enterprise-grade network have traditionally been a barrier for small businesses.
The estimated annual TAM for managed WiFi for small businesses in the US and UK alone is in excess of $3.5B, and service providers are ideally placed to capture this opportunity. There’s an overwhelming preference from small businesses to buy a managed WiFi service from the same service provider that they purchase Internet connectivity from. In fact, over 80% of small businesses indicated that they would be likely or very likely to buy managed WiFi from the same service provider that they buy connectivity from.
Small businesses are already likely to form the majority of a service provider’s customer base, by volume. It makes good business sense too. Given the huge volume of small business customers an SP has, a small increase in wallet share with this audience will deliver a significant impact to an SP’s overall business.
However, SPs creating an enterprise-grade managed WiFi service for SMBs soon realize that the time and huge cost of managing multiple customer networks make this a less appealing business proposition using traditional networking technology.
Meraki cloud-managed technology has allowed SPs to create, deploy, and maintain managed services at a fraction of the cost and time of traditional technology – across their entire customer base: from the small business segment through to the largest enterprise organizations. Meraki has carried out studies with existing customers to show they enjoy a massive reduction in operating costs – in the region of 90% compared to legacy technology.
Service providers across the globe, including Shaw and CenturyLink, have already successfully created and launched Meraki-powered services to their respective small business markets. Shaw Business partnered with Meraki to create SmartWiFi to fulfil the wireless requirements of small-and-medium-sized-businesses, as well as offer them the intelligence to help grow their business.
“Meraki’s cloud-based model was attractive to us for its faster deployment, simple and flexible management tools, powerful analytics, and real-time updates,” said Ron McKenzie, Senior Vice President at Shaw Business.
SmartWiFi packages are inclusive of an Internet connection, meaning SMBs have a consolidated flat-rate monthly cost from a single provider, three fully managed wireless networks, and access to support services.
As part of the latest Meraki launch at Cisco Live Barcelona, amongst other announcements, two exciting new entry-level wireless access points were introduced to make Meraki-powered managed WiFi an even more compelling proposition, for both SPs and their small business customers.
The Meraki MR20 and MR70 access points deliver efficient 802.11ac wave 2 wireless technology with location analytics built-in at a very attractive price point. “The addition of the entry-level MR20 and MR70 access points to our wireless portfolio will allow our service provider partners in particular to create managed WiFi services to appeal to a much broader range of small businesses,” said Raj Krishna, VP of Product Management at Cisco Meraki.
“The addition of the entry-level MR20 and MR70 access points to our wireless portfolio will allow our service provider partners in particular to create managed WiFi services to appeal to a much broader range of small businesses,” said Raj Krishna, VP of Product Management at Cisco Meraki.
The benefits with Meraki don’t finish there. Service providers that have sold a Meraki-powered WiFi service can easily upsell customers to premium services such as mobile engagement, custom splash pages, security and custom analytics, but crucially, without the need to add any additional hardware. Meraki has an extensive range of open APIs to allow these zero-touch premium upsell services. Find out more about the possibilities with Meraki APIs here.
Service providers have traditionally struggled to serve their huge volume of small business customers with enterprise-grade networking, particularly WiFi. The Meraki cloud-managed architecture provides SPs with the platform to serve their entire customer base, including thousands of small business customers, at a cost which yields a compelling business proposition. Find out about the new entry-level Meraki wireless access points that will allow SPs to serve an even broader range of small business customers.
 United States Census Bureau (2015) and UK Office for National Statistics (2017). Assuming $600 per SMB customer per year.
 AMI (2016-2021) and 2017 Cisco SMB Study