Why Not Wi-FI?

BP North America has turned to Dayton, Ohio-based network management company HarborLink Network and Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Wi-Fi services company Ruckus Wireless to offer a next-generation Wi-Fi service for free at 50 BP sites nationwide.

If it’s well received, the service could be rolled out at additional BP locations, said BP Spokesman Scott Dean.

Dubbed “Smart Wi-Fi,” the wireless service offers a hopped-up hotspot called a Smartspot, which Ruckus Wireless said is a more sophisticated version of Wi-Fi in that it offers enhanced multimedia support, extended signal range, increased reliability and remote management capabilities.

Retailers across the board are adding Wi-Fi as another way to attract customers, but HarborLink President Rick Tangeman said conventional Wi-Fi service isn’t passing muster these days, given the vast array of mobile devices in consumers’ hands.

BP wanted a Wi-Fi system that was not only affordable but easy for dealers to install. HarborLink and Ruckus set up a system that is essentially plug-and-play. Ruckus Wireless has a ZoneFlex Smart Wi-Fi system that allowed HarborLink to create the Wi-Fi package so it could be sent to BP-branded dealers and installed in a matter of minutes.

The device automatically connects to Ruckus’ FlexMaster Wi-Fi management system, where it can be configured without any human intervention.

“BP challenged us to create and deliver a smarter Wi-Fi system that could be sent to BP-branded marketers and easily installed by anyone,” Tangeman said. “And it had to be extremely affordable but also carrier-class, offering advanced services, extensive coverage, reliable connectivity and remote management. We were hardpressed to find anything that could fit the bill.”

HarborLink and Ruckus’ advertising-based turnkey system is run off both companies’ platforms. It allows for customized content, full-motion video and user-specific ads to be inserted in pages based on a site’s geographic location, which means BP dealers and franchisees can promote in-store specials in addition to offering the service.

“It’s another way for us to provide customers with added convenience and make BP their store of choice,” Dean said.

BP dealers can voluntarily opt into the program, but they must pay a one-time rental fee for the necessary equipment, which includes a year of service, help desk support and other offerings.

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