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PowerCloud Promises Easy, Full-Featured Wi-Fi Hotspots

It's always a trip to pull into a small-town diner, walk in the door and see the sign. It might be printed in simple font or, better yet, hand-scrawled. Whether it says "We Have Wi-Fi," "Wi-Fi Here" or whatever, our expectation that wireless will simply be anywhere we land is more frequently being realized. Free wireless is always best from the user perspective, but it's completely reasonable for a business owner to try to make a buck, or at least cover his or her costs, on the signal provided for customers. Now, PowerCloud Systems puts a new twist on the Wi-Fi hotspot notion, putting business-quality hotspot options at the ready for anyone wanting to serve up that wireless goodness we all crave.

A quick reminder about PowerCloud is in order. The self-proclaimed "leading provider of cloud managed networking device software for OEMs" is in the business of providing the magic behind cloud-based wireless for small and midsize enterprises. The premise is simple; Commodity-grade hardware gets revved up to enterprise-quality with the PowerCloud feature set, and otherwise ordinary hardware like my own CloudCommand-enabled DLink DAP 2555s gets impressive feature sets that are controlled via accounts in the cloud (appropriately), either directly with PowerCloud or more typically through an OEM.

The new CloudCommand Hotspot Edition provides options for those in need of easily deployed customer-facing wireless. Whether the goal is to provide free Wi-Fi with a splash of advertising, or different tiers of pay-as-you-go service, CloudCommand has you covered. Single or multiple sites are managed through Hotspot Edition's web interface, and management or front-desk staff can manipulate settings for customer classes or individuals. Who might use PowerCloud's latest? Think medical clinic waiting rooms, hotels, resorts and other settings where wireless done right might be passed on because of budget and IT skill constraints.

One of the most compelling aspects of Hotspot Edition's arrangement between OEMs, the customer and PowerCloud is the turn-key nature of the arrangement. When deployed, the service is complete with an e-commerce back-end that makes customer billing easy. Whether charging by the megabit or by the hour, the complexity frequently associated with billing for services is eliminated. If customers pay for Wi-Fi, PowerCloud handles the transaction and writes the subscribing Hotspot Edition business a check periodically. You can't argue with simple, especially when its effective.

Again, as a user, I want all the free wireless I can get when I travel. But if was going to provide wireless for my own customers, I would certainly consider using the likes of PowerCloud's Hotspot Edition to at least cover my own Internet costs, especially with the ability to tailor my offerings and billing. And if I had multiple sites, the proverbial single-pane-of-glass management of all of them would be appreciated. Score one for the business little guy.