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How to Leverage iOS 14 as a Change Agent to Optimize Your Amenity-Based Wi-Fi Services

Apple’s new privacy feature is the next in an ongoing series of changes that will impact the traveler—Are you ready to use it as an opportunity to provide a more connected experience for your guests?

Apple has been trying for several years to come up with a way to give their users more control over privacy on their devices. With iOS 14, Apple is introducing the next iteration of their MAC randomization feature called Use Private Address.

What is a MAC address and why does it matter?

A MAC address is a unique hardware identifier assigned to every device that connects to a network (Wi-Fi or wired). Over the years, network providers have leveraged the MAC address to present users with a streamlined onboarding experience. The first time a user’s device joins a network, its MAC address is captured and remembered for a period of time defined by the network provider – length of stay, multiple days, multiple months, etc. This “remembering” is helpful as it allows the user to access the internet or internet-based services without having to manually connect to the network each time. It is how a public network creates a secure shared key with the user.

What May Happen with MAC randomization?

With Apple’s new Use Private Address feature, guest experiences based on remembering a device’s MAC address to seamlessly reconnect to the network will start to require a new approach. This is why:

    • By default, the device will present a new, MAC address to every unique network to which it is associated.

So, is that really so terrible? Today, if you have extended access users, it will require them to log in again once they join the network after the upgrade.  A disruption but not a big deal, yet. The good news is you have an opportunity to embrace this change and optimize your user experience going forward by removing the dependency on the MAC Address as an identifier for those customers who would like to streamline their experience and take advantage of new capabilities with Wi-Fi.

Providing a better frictionless experience for visiting users.

The old adage, “When one door closes, another one opens,” holds true in this case. Alternatives are available that will help you provide your guests with a more advanced but still seamless and reliable connected experience without a dependency on MAC authentication.

Network profiles, for example, can be created that are specific to your network or groups of similar networks (Brands, Cities, Ownership Groups, etc.) that will allow users to onboard to Wi-Fi networks with little or no friction. Options like this will help you continue to personalize connections to your Wi-Fi networks and drive customer loyalty.

What will creating a profile do for me as a network provider?

Encouraging users to download a network profile creates new benefits—especially when those guests use your services more than once.

    • Low friction – You can provide secure access to a network for a timeframe that you define.
    • Extended connectivity – With a profile, you can now partner with carriers that are interested in optimizing connections when users transition in and out of the cellular network by enabling roaming and offload.
    • Maintain Analytics – New unique identifiers will be required to provide meaningful insights into your online traffic. Profiles will enable tracking as MAC addresses lose their meaning.
    • Guest engagement – You can personalize promotions specific to the users who leverage your services using your loyalty to drive offers.
How do I create a profile for my network?

Now that you see the benefits of creating a network profile to engage your guests and increase loyalty, where do you start?

    1. Find a vendor who has experience in the profile space.
        • Define a profile – Create a profile that supports your guests’ use of the new privacy feature.
        • Create new onboarding experiences – Implement tools that will allow you to provide options for people to download and activate the profile.
    2. Identify opportunities to leverage the profile to provide personalized experiences.
        • Roaming / offload – Helps users stay connected and can provide revenues for the network provider for sharing their bandwidth.
        • Guest Engagement – You have a set of users who are invested in your destination—provide them with details that will enable them to take advantage of your services while they are connected to your network.
        • Maintain Analytics – Know your guests through structured opt in parameters to enable you to optimize your understanding while keeping privacy in mind.

REMOVE THE FRICTION

The most important thing for you and your guests is to stay connected with limited disruption. While Apple is impacting the onboarding experience, they are also presenting you with an opportunity to enhance how you engage with your users. Use this change to provide your customers with a better experience while also further monetizing the services that you are delivering.

Our team here at Single Digits is ready and waiting. Reach out to us to learn more about our Connected Life ExperienceTM and how we can help you take advantage of the change that is coming.

By John-Michael Jenkins
Director of Product Management & Marketing, Single Digits

 


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    • If you are an existing Single Digits network owner have no fear—let’s talk about streamlining your authentication and Wi-Fi experience.
    • If you aren’t a customer of ours yet, we’d like to introduce you to our network capabilities and how we can provide your customers with a connected experience that is seamless, reliable, and secure.

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