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Subpar Networks Exposed By Apple’s Wi-Fi Assist

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Xirrrus Blog SubparBy now you probably know that on September 16, Apple released its long-awaited iOS 9 update. Who knows – maybe you’ve already made the switch! As with past updates, most of the features on iOS 9 range from the conventional and expected to the super cool and unheard-of. One of them, however, is sure to elicit some surprises. That’s because it unwittingly exposes mediocre Wi-Fi networks for what they are – poor performers.

I’m talking about the Wi-Fi assist feature. If you’re using Wi-Fi to go online with a device that has a data plan, the assist automatically switches your connection to your cellular carrier when it determines that Wi-Fi performance is weak. That’s problematic because the default setting is already turned to “on,” and many users haven’t been instructed on the pitfalls and benefits of this well-meaning “assist.”

As a result, in the past few days we’ve seen countless news stories about people racking up cellular data charges without their knowledge or intent, all because of this new feature. Thankfully, with so many media outlets covering the issue, most people will get the message and simply turn the assist off. But what about those who don’t find out right away? What about that percentage of users who, when faced with what they feel to be unwarranted cellular charges, decide they need an outlet for their frustration?

Who or what will these users turn against? Not their iPhone – they are already invested in it, and dare not criticize the sleek new device that “completes them.” Not their cellular carrier – the cell provider is “the fuel” for their phone usage, akin to gas for a car, and it’s hard to see how a cell carrier could reasonably be blamed. So, the easiest target will be the only other variable in the equation – the Wi-Fi network provider. To some, the Wi-Fi provider will become the bad guy, because shoddy network performance is what “caused” their phone to switch to cellular service in the first place.

A few weeks ago, when people got onto your business’ Wi-Fi network and had a bad connection, they might have considered it a fair deal. Poor performing Wi-Fi may have been something we didn’t like, but we accepted it, because it was usually free. Well, those days could be over, at least in some instances. That’s because bad Wi-Fi now has the potential to cost users real money in phone charges – which is un-cool by any stretch of the imagination.

Have you been getting by with a subpar Wi-Fi network? If so, it’s time to consider the cost of doing so in light of Apple’s Wi-Fi Assist. Visit Xirrus where you can find a wide selection of high-quality access points – from the affordable X2 to the XD2, the world’s first two-radio Wave 2 AP, all the way up to the unparalleled XD4 – a four-radio all 802.11ac AP.

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