Category: Feature Spotlight

    How to deploy ANTlabs Advanced QoS/QoS+ and dramatically improve your Wi-Fi network

    Are users complaining about slow WiFi speeds? Do you want to provide your guests, or staff with all the bandwidth they need?

    Are you struggling to meet bandwidth requirements for guest WiFi, and cringing at the prospect of asking Management for yet another budget request to buy more internet connections?  Wished you read this article before the last budget request?

    Have you been asked to implement QoS on your network but don’t know where to start? This blog post will explain how Advanced QoS can help you with all the above. Let’s get started!

    Basic QoS 101

    Quality of Service (QoS) can help you by providing better control and management of your traffic. QoS can improve your user experience by giving certain types of traffic priority over others. This can be especially useful if you have time-sensitive applications or need to manage large amounts of traffic.

    Without QoS, your network would be a free-for-all where every application competes for bandwidth equally. That might work fine for small networks, but as soon as you start adding more users and applications, things can get bogged down quickly.  With QoS, you can give priority to the traffic that matters most to your business. For example, you can prioritize voice traffic over email or video streaming. Alternatively, you may decide that social media usage like YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter is banned in your network.

    However, not all QoS features are built equal. You need to understand that simple QoS solutions don’t help much, if at all. For example, simple rate-limit, or device-level QoS control targets individual devices. It has no idea what applications are being used, who the user is, or how many devices within the same room are hogging all the bandwidth. A small group of users can monopolize the network. Implementing QoS can be complex, but the benefits are worth it.

    antlabs multi wan bandwidth solution

    What is Advanced QoS / QoS+ and how does it work?

    Save money and time, while improving the end-user experience: Advanced QOS (AQoS) and Advanced QoS Plus (AQoS+) module from ANTlabs control who gets priority, where, and when. No need to buy expensive network equipment, and spend days installing and troubleshooting, as both are software modules add-on to our ANTlabs gateways.  It is easy to deploy and optimizes throughput over a network with a multi-stage QoS engine and customizable application shaping. It enables you to grant VIP users more bandwidth, speeds up those applications that need them (e.g., VoIP or IPTV), and it provides comprehensive control over the quality of your network.  The IT administrator just needs to define the locations, and QoS plans that is to be applied to different user groups, and simply configure on a graphical web-based interface on our managed Cloud Wi-Fi platform (ASP/Cloud ASP).

    ANTlabs Advanced QoS / QoS+ is a powerhouse

    With more than 20 years of R&D and industry experience for visitor-based networking in hospitality and large venues, ANTlabs has purpose-built the QoS engine to optimize hospitality Wi-Fi, and offer world-class airports and sports venues superior guest Wi-Fi solutions.

    One of the unique features of the ANTlabs Advanced QoS 3-stage engine is its capability to allow multiple devices to share a single bandwidth rate limit per user. For example, you wish to allocate 10MB per guest or staff. Each user will only use up this amount of bandwidth among all his/her active devices, and it will be shared equally amongst them.

    With the Advanced QoS 3-stage engine, bandwidth utilization can be maximized by creating differentiated classes of services for different groups of users.

    All user traffic goes through the Advanced QoS 3-stage engine:

    Stage 1.  As we mentioned earlier, the first stage engine is unique to ANTlabs, and applies bandwidth rate limit to the individual user instead of device-level. Together with authentication, this innovation allows different users to be treated according to their VIP status or needs, instead of blindly applying one simple limit to a device.

    Stage 2.  This second stage engine defines different QoS Tiers (Guaranteed Tier, Premium Tier and Basic Tier) where different user groups can be assigned to the desired tier. Between the tiers, higher or lower priorities are given as to who gets the bandwidth, and the IT Manager can specify the total maximum bandwidth allocated to a tier for better control.  In this way, no single group of users can monopolize the whole network and the IT Dept has better visibility and control.  Furthermore, the surplus bandwidth from any bandwidth tier, can be temporarily re-allocated to another congested bandwidth tier automatically, optimizing network resources.

    Stage 3.  In the third stage, global application traffic shaping can be applied to network ports used by applications. This allows the bandwidth used by specific types of applications (of all users) to be controlled further.  In this way, more control can be applied so that no application will be starved for network resources.  Certain applications’ bandwidth consumption can be suppressed or given more priority to use up the network bandwidth.

    Advanced QoS Plus (QoS+) is the latest innovation leap by ANTlabs.  It has all the features of the original Advanced QoS module and more! As some applications like BitTorrent evolve to evade port-based application blocking, Advanced QoS+ classifies the applications more accurately based on website categorization without relying on which network ports are being used.  This signature-based website categorization is regularly updated to improve accuracy.  Another improvement is more fine-grained control for the global application shaping.  By allowing you to define QoS policies for different user groups, you can optimize the network further with better accuracy.

    For example, you can create a special user group to give priority to streaming services.   When you apply this to paying customers or VVIP customers, they will be able to enjoy better quality streaming in their rooms or anywhere in the network.   You can also make your network more family-friendly and safer by blocking adult-related, gambling sites or known blacklisted sites.

    How does Advanced QoS /QoS+ help improve the user experience?

    As far as the users are concerned, they will find that applications will now run better on their devices with Advanced QoS enabled. They may not even notice any slowdown or pausing in their applications, and simply assume more internet connections were added. If you are a VIP user, you will be pleased that even in public areas, you enjoy a faster and better quality of bandwidth compared to guest users. For the management, you can be assured that the existing network resources are well-optimized, and buying more Internet bandwidth can be delayed or dispensed with.  In some cases, you may even scale down the number of internet connections, and save costs since network usage has become more efficient.

    Conclusion

    In conclusion, by deploying ANTlabs’ Advanced QoS / QoS+, you can greatly improve your network performance and ensure that critical applications always have the bandwidth they need. You don’t need a lot of network expertise or expensive hardware to implement.  By carefully planning your QoS strategy and implementing it correctly, you can take your network to the next level and please everyone (including the bosses!), leaving you more time to handle other pressing matters.

    Make sure to include ANTlabs’ Advanced QoS or Advanced QoS Plus module in your next budget request so that you don’t need to go back to ask for more in future!

     

    Automation: The Next Big Thing for Cloud and Digitization

    A for Automation

    According to Wikipedia, automation describes a wide range of technologies that reduce human intervention in processes. As the tongue-in-cheek section header implies, automation may very soon be the first thing on your priority to-do list.  Much has been said about the merits of moving to the “Cloud” or “Digitization”.  While shifting to the cloud or making business processes more digital will have some inherent productivity gains or even strategic advantages, we feel that automation is key to driving more impactful revenue and operational results.

    Automation is critical to providing a consistent and satisfying customer experience, benefiting from expert decision-making, or ensuring a high level of service quality.  These are attributes that are especially important for the service industry, including for Network Managed Service Providers (MSPs), Telcos, and the Hospitality industry.

    The power of “Automation” in the palm of your hand

    Benefits of Automation for the MSPs, Telcos and Hospitality Industry

    1.  As business activities pick up, MSPs that can scale up and down quickly and cost-effectively will be able to benefit from this trend. Venue owners and businesses who are facing uncertainty will prefer low start-up cost and pay-as-you-use subscription business models. MSPs who can provide flexibility to customers and tune their pricing models quickly will dominate the market. “Wi-Fi-as-a-service” (WiFi-aaS) is fast gaining popularity and increasingly preferred.

    2.  The demand for Enterprise managed Wi-Fi services should pick up as business owners and corporates want to outsource infrastructure investment or migrate from Capex to Opex spending model, while relying on MSPs to deliver reliable wireless connectivity for their operations. Centralized monitoring, with easy remote onboarding of customers while empowering them to self-help or administer basic functions are critical success factors.

    3.  It is important for MSPs to have deep understanding of their target customer segments and what is happening in their network, in order to spot business opportunities or respond quickly to operational issues respectively. In the past, many MSPs have built systems in silos to address different business opportunities which made data consolidation and analytics difficult or impossible. A good centralized system that incorporates data analytics with machine learning can help both Marketing, Business Development and Operations team to better address market segments and ensure service levels are met.

    ANTlabs ASP / ASP Cloud Managed Wi-Fi Solutions for MSPs

    There are many ways that automation can be applied to allow companies to reap the benefits mentioned earlier. Here are some examples that ANTlabs has helped evolve our customer’s business processes with our product features or our ability to help customize to their requirements.

    Backup and recovery automation for optimum system availability and resiliency

    With our ASP managed service platform or ASP Cloud service, configuration and recovery data can be backed up centrally. During system failures at a local site, high availability on our gateways automatically kicks in, preventing service downtime. Alerts are sent out automatically. In the event of a full local system failure, the MSP can quickly send in a replacement unit and restore the service fast with the backups that are stored in the cloud. With simple instructions, a non-IT staff can power up a gateway and allow both the gateway and ASP to automatically self-configure and restore optimized settings finetuned by IT group corporate. All these can be monitored remotely by an administrator(s) from our ASP platform.

    Dynamic login pages automation for best user experience and lower operation workload

    The IT Administrator of a MICE venue can predefine and configure new login portal pages to be shown at a specific location at a specific date and time so that they don’t have to remember to change or rush to make last-minute changes before a new event starts. Our Event Manager module helps save time, while potentially allowing non-IT staff to help in times of manpower crunch with the easy-to-use, and intuitive user interface.

    Automated surveys for more customer satisfaction insights

    A customer satisfaction survey can be sent automatically after a guest has checked out of a hotel or finished a meal at a restaurant. Instead of relying on staff to remember to do this mundane step and collate the results, such a simple form of automation can alert management if service standards have been exemplary or degraded.

    Improve Telcos and MSPs productivity and mitigate manpower resources crunch

    During government-mandated lockdowns, ANTlabs Tru’AUTH AAA and Tru’IP DHCP/DNS systems have aided Telcos and MSPs to respond rapidly to shifting consumption spikes of bandwidth in the network. AAA authentication, DHCP, and DNS service are important network services for a Telco. With automation, a much leaner network team could bring up new network coverage quickly and shift the required network resources to multiple sites without sacrificing quality. Coupled with the use of telemetry data, automated expert rules can help Operations teams during maintenance windows to ensure that pre-established operational procedures set up by experienced operators can be faithfully executed by less experienced staff. Real-time visibility on our systems, help provide human engineers or managers with speedy confirmation of service recovery and relevant reports for audit.

    The above examples illustrate the wide range that automation can enhance service quality in small steps for individual customers or create a huge impact on an operator’s network affecting millions.

    antlabs telemetry and network automation

    Conclusion

    Automation is the next step to realize the benefits of shifting to the cloud and digitization of business processes. For more than 20 years, ANTlabs has built robust networking solutions for Telcos, MSPs, large venues, and the hospitality industry. With our unique insight into the needs of small venue owners to large-scale network operators, we continually apply automation through product innovation and customize for our customers. The ability to customize to our customers’ environment is one of many unique advantages offered by ANTlabs.

    Automation is key to driving more impactful revenue and operational results. It will allow the MSPs, Telcos, and hospitality industry to provide a consistently high-quality customer experience, respond faster to a dynamic business environment and ensure a high level of operational efficiency.

     

     

     

    managed wifi service providers. automation

    How Managed Wi-Fi Service Providers can prosper in 2022

    A new year of challenges and opportunities

    As the new Lunar Year of the Tiger is upon us, we are hopeful that 2022 will be a year of opportunities for managed service providers (MSPs) providing Managed Wi-Fi services. For the past 2 years, there have been unpredictable drops in customer demand and business activity, as well as sudden surges after lull periods. Shortage of labour and supply chain disruptions have also created unforeseen issues which require innovative solutions and change in mindset and paradigms to ride through the challenges. Technology and innovation are often cited as catalysts to help businesses transform to overcome these disruptions and emerge more agile and competitive. So how can MSPs position themselves to win in 2022?

    Here are 5 ways that we believe MSPs can take advantage of the business opportunities:

    1. As business activities pick up, MSPs that can scale up and down quickly and cost-effectively will be able to benefit from this trend. Venue owners and businesses who are facing uncertainty will prefer low start-up cost and pay-as-you-use subscription business models. MSPs who can provide flexibility to customers and tune their pricing models quickly will dominate the market. “Wi-Fi-as-a-service” (WiFi-aaS) is fast gaining popularity and increasingly preferred.

    2. The demand for Enterprise managed Wi-Fi services should pick up as business owners and corporates want to outsource infrastructure investment or migrate from Capex to Opex spending model, while relying on MSPs to deliver reliable wireless connectivity for their operations. Centralized monitoring, with easy remote onboarding of customers while empowering them to self-help or administer basic functions are critical success factors.

    3. It is important for MSPs to have deep understanding of their target customer segments and what is happening in their network, in order to spot business opportunities or respond quickly to operational issues respectively. In the past, many MSPs have built systems in silos to address different business opportunities which made data consolidation and analytics difficult or impossible. A good centralized system that incorporates data analytics with machine learning can help both Marketing, Business Development and Operations team to better address market segments and ensure service levels are met.

    ANTlabs ASP / ASP Cloud Managed Wi-Fi Solutions for MSPs

    With more than 2 decades of experience working with Telcos, service providers and hospitality players, ANTlabs has developed a centralized managed service platform called ASP (ANTlabs Service Platform) that can help MSPs address the opportunities outlined here. For customers with small number of sites, ANTlabs also provides ASP Cloud – a pay-as-you-use subscription service based on the same ASP platform to help them get started and realize the benefits that would otherwise be inaccessible to them.

    Launch New Cloud Managed WiFi Services Easily with ANTlabs ASP / ASP Cloud

    4. While wireless connectivity is indispensable, it is also fast becoming a commodity. Yet delivering good quality high-speed internet access (HSIA) service can make or break the success of WiFi-aaS for MSPs. Consistently high quality of service (QoS) requires end to end effort: from the edge devices providing differentiated network QoS control for different user groups, to controlling what kinds of application traffic has priority so that overall user experience is enhanced.

    Beyond HSIA: User-aware, location aware services

    Besides HSIA as a service, MSPs should allow other network services to easily launched and subscribed by end customers. ANTlabs ASP platform has the unique ability to allow MSPs to launch user-aware, location-aware services that are customizable to fit different customer segments. Take for example, a web filtering service to protect network users from malware or undesirable content. MSPs can provide a different customer profile with a corresponding set of filtering criteria for corporate use, versus, hospitality customers.

    5. Finally, with the trend to move business processes online and the shift towards Cloud operations, MSPs should leverage on the same WiFi-aaS platform to capture customers in other business verticals. ANTlabs ASP platform has multi-tenancy features that allow different end user organizations to subscribe and manage their own network, and flexible features that allow the MSPs to address different verticals like corporate, hospitality, retail, finance and even education. With small increment cost, MSPs can leverage on the ANTlabs ASP platform to expand their existing business by providing Managed WiFi business to new business verticals.

    Conclusion

    ANTlabs has built the ASP platform to be a robust centralized managed service platform for MSPs to realize a scalable, and cost-effective Managed WiFi Service model with the added benefit of launching new services quickly, and allowing them to expand beyond their traditional hospitality or corporate customer base. As WiFi-as-as-service (WiFi-aaS) becomes the norm with more businesses going online in 2022 and beyond, MSPs who can capitalize on these trends will have first-mover advantage and build a sustainable and profitable business.

    antlabs web content filtering

    How web filtering secures your network further

    Updated: 8 December 2021

    Web content filtering is mostly used to keep inappropriate content out of kids’ hands and restrict timewasters in corporate networks. However, its primary advantage is not limited to preventing access to undesirable content. Reduced malware infections and access to phishing websites are among the lesser-known but probably equally important reasons web filtering is gaining favor in Enterprise WiFi networks.

    As users become more IT savvy, they need the reassurance that they are connected to a secure network, especially when they are not in their own homes. Of course, establishments can explicitly say that users use their WiFi at their own risk in their Terms and Conditions. However, while that may potentially save them from legal troubles, it may not shield them from PR nightmares should malware infect the users’ devices while in their network.

    How ANTlabs Web Filtering Service Works

    ANTlabs Web Filtering Service can be used in organizations with various WiFi hotspots. For example, if you administer a school WiFi network, you may wish to keep pupils from mistakenly viewing harmful content such as gambling, pornography, or hate sites. Because these new sites constantly change and new ones appear every day, manually blocking them is not an option. Another situation when category filtering comes in handy is when your school or workplace disallows visiting time-wasting websites like YouTube is prohibited during specific hours. YouTube and related sites are classed as “Time Wasters > Entertainment” and are restricted when this category is selected. You also save time and effort by not having to type in the URLs of these websites manually.

    ANTlabs Web Filtering protects users by giving operators the controls to block by category. It is based on DNS filtering—a type of content filtering using the DNS layer to filter based on IP addresses. The main difference is that this service gives blanket protection to sites you choose within your organization.

    When users bring in multiple devices, the filtering works across these devices and filters websites into six major categories (Security, Adult-related, Bandwidth Hogs, Illegal Activity, Time Wasters, and General Sites) with more than 60 pre-defined subcategories and inspects encrypted sites. In addition, the URLs categorized in the security module’s database are constantly updated, so service providers who subscribe to this feature shall have peace of mind knowing they have protection from the latest threats.

    Secure your network further with ANTlabs Web Filtering Service

    Other ANTlabs Product Features that Enhance Security

    ANTlabs’ built-in Anti-SPAM Protection and Anti-DOS Protection are two other ANTlabs product features that combine well with Web Filtering Service to secure your network further. Another ANTlabs gateway function that helps you secure your guest networks is Lawful Intercept, which helps your organization comply with numerous IT cyber regulations.

    The ANTlabs Web Filtering Service was released in December 2021 with ASP Cloud. It benefits guest WiFi networks like hotels, schools, universities, enterprises, and other corporate networks that aren’t classified as guest WiFi.

  • Why ANTlabs Multi-WAN load balancing feature provides better usability for your network than other brands

    What makes ANTlabs Multi-WAN load balancing module better than the competitor’s multi-WAN? Here’s a familiar scenario: networks going down in the middle of critical business processes and eventually costing businesses much money. Huge companies fork out millions of dollars to keep their networks in the green by having dedicated high-bandwidth backup links and various devices […]

  • Cloud Managed WiFi Made Easy: Deploy large complex networks quickly with the new enhanced site duplication feature

    With the surge in demand for cloud-based solutions, Managed Service Providers (MSPs) have a compelling business case to position themselves quickly to ride the rapid digitization boom.  MSPs face many challenges like onboarding customers seamlessly, scaling up and managing complexities in their customer’s networks, and launching new services quickly while maintaining operations cost-effectively.  Here are […]

  • ANTlabs Authentication Methods

    ANTlabs recently added Office 365 and LinkedIn to its ever-growing list of Social WiFi authentication methods. Aside from allowing your guests to connect via social media quickly, here is the comprehensive list of ways you and your guests can connect to WiFi when using ANTlabs gateways:

     

    Social media – Encourage your guests to log in via Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, Line, WeChat, and LinkedIn–and let them post good things about your venue

    Complimentary access – invite more guests to your venue with free WiFi

    User ID and password authentication (local accounts) – provide your guests, members, VIPs, and staff their WiFi user name and password

    Access code authentication (local accounts) – generate and give out WiFi access codes to your guests

    MAC-level authentication for non-HTTP devices – choose which devices can connect to your network

    PMS authentication and Billing – conveniently connect your esteemed guests through your hotel’s property management system

    Email / SMS authentication – let your guests connect to your network through email or SMS

    Office 365 login – your guests and office staff can use their Office 365 account to login to your WiFi network

    Auto-login – no login page for areas where you want guests to connect to your network sans access codes seamlessly

    Account Printer – one-tap access code generation on a hand-held device (i.e. ANTlabs Account Printer AP 3100)

     

    ANTlabs gateways also support credit card authentication and billing through Worldpay, Authorize.net, Payflow Pro, Payflow Link.

     

    Recently in December, WeChat rejoined ANTlabs’ roster of social WiFi login methods after its brief hiatus.

    How to let your hotel guests cast Netflix to TV securely

    Casting Netflix on Hotel TV with ANTlabs PAN Module

    Did you know that your neighbors may also know that you are watching Netflix when you cast Netflix on your hotel TV? Even high-end hotel guests are not spared the surprise nor embarrassment and have experienced getting a mobile notification that somebody nearby is streaming Netflix on their hotel TV. This situation usually happens when the network does not have any private network setup.

    Upon reaching your hotel room, one of the first things you will most likely do is get your devices connected to WiFi—whether for work or to relax after a long day by catching up on your favorite shows on Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, or Disney+. Unlike in the home network–where we only see the devices we own–guest networks would most likely also show other people’s devices connected to that AP when you scan for your devices to cast on your hotel TV. If you can see your neighbor cast Netflix from their phone to TV, imagine what else we could be unknowingly broadcasting when connected to guest networks.

    As a service provider, be it for hotels or MDUs, how can you assure the users in your network that their devices are only “speaking” with one another? And that intruders cannot easily find their devices? As more users are practically doing everything online these days, customers are also getting more aware of privacy matters and the need to protect themselves from intrusion.

    How to cast anything securely on the hotel TV

    cast netflix from phone to tv
    Cast Netflix easily to your hotel TV with ANTlabs PAN Module

    One way to accomplish this is to provide each user with their private network. Providing private networks for each of your guests will ensure that only the user’s devices can “see” each other online, whether they are ‘working from hotel’—the other WFH—or just unwinding and casting Netflix on their hotel room Smart TV. Guests can also connect their gaming consoles to it, just like how they set it up at home, thus, improving the guest experience. The traditional way of achieving this is not straightforward and very time-consuming. As a service provider, the easier way to do this is through ANTlabs’ PAN (Private Area Network) module.

    Excellent user experience with PAN module

    User experience is more than just a buzzword now, especially when transacting business online. It usually starts with how fast and easy you can connect to the Internet, how stable it is, and how secure it is wherever you are, especially guest WiFi networks. Improving network security protects your staff and guests from privacy intrusion and simplifies operations support.

    With PAN module, you can tell your guests that they have a private network within their hotel room and can expect to quickly hook up their gaming consoles or enjoy casting their favorite Netflix shows on their TV—without letting the whole building know about it. They can trust that they will have a pleasant and enjoyable stay and secure business transactions online.

    Increase WiFi revenue and staff productivity while ensuring privacy

    ANTlabs gateways also have other modules that complement the PAN module. Take, for example, the Advanced QoS module. You enjoy the best of both worlds with both PAN and Advanced QoS through operational efficiency, high-quality internet connectivity and privacy. These benefits are not only for the guests but also for the hotel staff. For one, it is easy for your team to set up private networks for your guests with the PAN module, and it is just as easy to allocate differentiated bandwidth tiers for your guests.  

    For example, your hotel can allocate VIPs and premium-paying guests with their 1GBps private network while non-guests who are enjoying free WiFi at the hotel lobby café share 200MBps among themselves. This means that no matter how hectic it gets during the day within your staff’s own 1GBps network, your VIPs and premium-paying guests will still be happily casting and streaming Netflix or making Zoom calls in their rooms. On top of this, other users will not see your devices that are within your private network. 

    Peace of mind while casting Netflix on hotel TV with ANTlabs Private Area Network Module

    The PAN module is also suitable for co-working spaces and MDUs (e.g., condominiums, dormitories, serviced apartments). While the current global situation does not encourage a lot of human traffic in these areas, it somehow shows the opposite on online traffic. Everyone is online to do practically everything; thus, more and more devices connect to the Internet daily. With the PAN module, service providers can provide a seamless and private user experience to their users no matter how busy the network gets with WFH (both ‘work from home’ and ‘work from hotel’) online activities during the day, and casting Netflix or YouTube at night. 

    Learn more about how the PAN module can improve your guest network.

    Photos by John-Mark Smith, Nicolas , and cottonbro  from Pexels