Boating Industry

February 2016

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MARKET FOCUS SECTION { MARINA DESIGN } February 2016 | Boating Industry | 37 "The industry has long been looking for so- lutions that will put an end to the battle against corrosion. At the same time, there is a grow- ing need for viable solutions that adequately address environmental concerns [around chemicals leching] and anticipated tighter regulations," said Comstock. DESIGNING A WIFI-FRIENDLY MARINA A big up-and-coming amenity in the marina segment is WiFi, and marinas need to consider the structural requirements of this offering before rolling out to consumers. Distributing a strong signal across multiple acres and to larger slips is no easy feat. Beacon WiFi aims to solve these problems, as it offers WiFi exclusively to marinas through basic facility services and network boat pack- ages for boat owners. Today's customer doesn't just want WiFi – they need it. While there are certainly custom- ers who are looking to unplug, the demand for free WiFi at a marina has grown significantly in the past few years. Russ Schmidt, president of Beacon WiFi, says his clients all largely say "it's the No. 1 requested amenity. Not pump out, not fuel, not anything else – it's WiFi. You can't look at the technology because it kind of shades the truth. The truth is it's their lifeline: to their office, to their home, to their kids, to their family and to any information." Beacon WiFi's NextGen system man- ages the maximum bandwidth per device at the marina to ensure everyone can get on the network, check emails and more. However, streaming capabilities are reduced, as one per- son streaming video can eat up the whole con- nection at some locations. The NextGen system also allows marina to register devices. For example, if some- one becomes a member at the beginning of the season, the marina can include a WiFi voucher code in the welcome package. The customer can connect to the WiFi, key in the voucher code and be registered to the network for the rest of the year. This makes it seamless for customers connecting during every visit and keeps the network secure for marinas to manage usage. Marinas can also choose to set up their WiFi across the whole facility or segment to different areas of the business. "They don't want [someone at the bar] sitting there, for example, streaming video all day. They want them to be able to get their email if they want, but somebody who is pay- ing a high slip fee, they want them to be able to stream video," said Schmidt. Having the broadband infrastructure available at the marina that can support the amount of traffic coming from the marina is a top priority. Therefore, it may require a signifi- cant capital investment. "Marinas are unique because the wireless infrastructure, the seasonal peak usage, the multiple users [requires you] to go with a com- pany who has done this before and uses the proper equipment, not only for the physical environment but for the type of communica- tion equipment that can manage this type of usage," Schmidt said. Modern dock systems make it easy for companies like Beacon WiFi to run fiber and copper through the docks, which allows for robust WiFi networks in cooperation with sys- tems on shore. "Years ago when we first started … any kind of connection was good enough," said Schmidt. "It's a lot different now, where they have multiple devices – everybody's got a small mobile device and now they not only need great connection, but they want through- put and speed and stability." THE BIGGEST HINDRANCE FOR ANY MARINA ADDING WIFI IS DISTRIBUTING A STRONG NET- WORK ACROSS A LARGE FACILITY. "You can't look at the technology because it kind of shades the truth. The truth is it's their lifeline: to their office, to their home, to their kids, to their family and to any information." — Russ Schmidt, president of Beacon WiFi

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