The town of Peregian Beach is a small village on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia. Popular with surfers, the closely concentrated town has many outdoor cafes and eateries that are enjoyed year-round.
Peregian Beach is also home to an office of Atmail, a next-generation email platform. With the best Internet connection in the area and a skilled IT staff, Atmail knew there was an opportunity to share their connection with customers of local businesses and allow their staff to connect the office when they weren’t physically in it, explained Atmail’s marketing and engagement manager, Rowan Walker.
For local businesses to offer WiFi to their customers, each local business would typically have to set up their own network, with their own ISP connection, hardware, and security management. “It’s not fun for the little sandwich shop with little or no IT skills,” said Walker. “It's also not the best end-user experience, as shoppers would have to continually disconnect and re-join a new network as they browsed around the village.”
Instead, Walker and his colleagues provisioned 25 per cent of Atmail’s ADSL connection to an Open Mesh 802.11N access point on the roof of their office, high above the village. They then added five power-only access points, hidden in Open Mesh indoor cases, in nearby businesses. The access points were managed through the cloud-based network controller, CloudTrax, and connected together automatically to form a seamless high-speed wireless network throughout the village.
“With Open Mesh hardware and CloudTrax administration, we find a power outlet, affix the router and forget about it,” said Walker. “It's that easy to expand and add redundancy to our network, and it’s purely of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ for the local businesses.”
Participating businesses put up stickers on their windows promoting the new service to customers.
“Right away, business owners noticed that when customers saw the stickers, they often reached for their iPhone to give it a go,” said Walker. “The service helps customers choose where they'd like to spend a long lunch in the sun.”
"It's not a chore or time-waster when you can just plug, play and forget."
Walker says those local businesses with the system are seeing more customers become regulars, and those customers are staying longer and buying more now that they don’t need to run back to the office to check an email. He notes that, as expected, almost all devices on the network are smart phones.
Walker said the ease of administration for a free network makes running the network easy and affordable. “It's not a chore or time-waster when you can just plug, play and forget,” he said.