Commentary: 6 wireless myths that need debunking
Despite all of the benefits of wireless ATM connectivity, some myths remain. Today I want to dispel several more of them:
Myth #1: Wireless provides limited benefits compared to wired networks.
The truth is that wireless transmissions are as good as or better than landline connections due to wider coverage, increased data transfer speeds and equipment dependability, and they free you from the restrictions of landline infrastructures. Additionally, wireless provides increased flexibility of your deployments allowing you to place your ATMs anywhere. The cost savings alone make wireless implementation the single greatest change you can make to strengthen your bottom line. Wireless is roughly half the cost of landlines, which more than offsets the costs of upgrading and installing wireless.
Myth #2: Wireless is not secure.
Wireless can be not only Secure Sockets Layer encrypted, (SSL is the security method commonly used by large online retailers to protect payment card transactions) but also PCI compliant. For additional protection, wireless can also utilize the current Triple Data Encryption Standard from the ATM. For the IAD using wireless modems equipped with SSL, the potential for a costly security breach via the wireless connection is extremely slight. To my knowledge it has never happened with a retail ATM. It's even possible to find wireless units that are fully compliant with the Payment Application Data Security Standard — the software developer and integrator counterpart to PCI DSS — which is likely to join PCI as a security mandate. These features ensure the end user of full compliance with PCI standards.
Many other security features can be integrated into units as well. Just a few of them are isolation of wireless devices from the public internet; logical splitting of customers' devices from other network traffic; and serving as additional layers of security. These are all practices we've adopted at OptConnect to provide maximum system security.
Now we're even seeing wireless expand beyond the limitations of physical infrastructures to utilize a unique cloud-based virtual infrastructure. This is a cost-effective, distributed, scalable and redundant platform that provides additional savings and security — especially when compared to traditional VPNs and gateways hosted by physical infrastructure.
Running multiple M2M VPN/VPN gateways that are geographically distributed throughout eliminates single points of failure and enables the highest available uptime for the ATM. With the introduction of Smart Systems, traffic is automatically routed around problems or network outages that might affect ATMs with only a single gateway or end-point. All of this can be accomplished without ever exposing data to the networks.
Myth #3: Wireless is complicated to deploy and support.
Wireless is probably one of the easiest upgrades you can make to your portfolio of ATMs. There are three easy and basic steps for installation:
- Plug the wireless modem into a power source.
- Attach an antenna to the ATM.
- Plug the ATM phone connection into the modem.
Plus, supporting wireless is easier and more cost-efficient than wired. With certain ATM wireless providers, you can receive free advance overnight replacement in the rare event that a modem goes down so that you can have it up and running again within 24 hours. With landline providers, however, you generally generally wait two to three days for a technician and pay $125 on average for the service.
Myth #4: You can't run remote management software using wireless.
RMS allows deployers to check on the status of the ATM remotely, tracking data such as bill count, error codes, number of transactions, average dispense amounts and more. Broadband capability makes RMS easier to use than ever. I know it works just fine because we run it at OptConnect as a free service for our customers.
Myth #5: You should only use wireless in mobile or event locations.
Converting your ATMs to wireless allows you to place them basically anywhere. With the cost of wireless shrinking significantly over the last year and a half, you no longer have to worry about managing expensive landline installations and high monthly costs. It also makes ADA compliance much easier by giving you many more options for physical placement of the machine, which can even save you construction costs associated with making an ATM fully accessible.
Myth #6: Wireless won’t work in cement buildings or rural areas.
Cellular networks, including the faster 3G networks, have proliferated across the country. Signal strength is becoming less and less of an issue anywhere, from "city canyons" to the country — and all the buildings in between. You'll find network availability almost anywhere you place a wireless machine.
The benefits to wireless ATMs are countless. In fact, when it comes right down to it, the only myth is the one that says there's any reason at all not to upgrade to wireless connectivity.
Chris Baird is executive vice president of OptConnect, a Grant Victor company and an industry leader in wireless connectivity solutions for ATMs in North America. He is also an active member of ATMIA.
Chris will continue to share his insights about wireless ATM solutions in a new ATM Marketplace blog, "Wireless: the ultimate connectivity solution".
For more on this topic, visit our wireless research center.