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The real cost of wireless networks – Calculating TCO

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The real cost of wireless networks – Calculating TCO

The real cost of wireless networks is often underestimated, with negative consequences on the bottom line. Calculating the TCO of WiFi is essential to make informed decisions, ensure ROI, and choose the most suitable technology stack.

The cost of wireless networks over time: why is it important to calculate TCO?

Gartner, the world’s leading IT research and advisory company, defines the total cost of ownership, acronym TCO, as “a comprehensive assessment of information technology (IT) or other costs across enterprise boundaries over time.” 

The keyword here is “over time”. A decision that seems smart today might be wrong in the long run. Let’s take as an example the many users that chose to deploy their networks with Cisco because “nobody ever got fired for buying Cisco.” They likely underestimated OpEx. Later, in times of tight budgets and limited resources, some CIOs and MSPs suffered from being stuck into Cisco’s licensing system, so they decided to switch their networking gear to other brands (like Ubiquiti, often managed with Tanaza).

The hidden cost of wireless networks

The cost of WiFi networks goes far beyond their purchasing price (also called “total cost of acquisition”), which is the amount paid for hardware and software at installation. According to Gartner, 80% of total IT costs occur after the initial purchase. TCO in WiFi networking takes into consideration the purchase costs but also other costs that arise over the lifespan of the units – even the intangible ones. 

However, the choice of technology should not be based only on TCO. It is good to consider the reliability of the system and also, its flexibility to adapt to the ever-changing business needs.

For example, is the system keeping up with the pace of technology advancement? Is it scalable? In other words: does it respond to the growth of WiFi consumption? Is it possible to upgrade the system remotely to get new features? Are new features and innovations introduced frequently?

Which elements to consider when calculating the cost of wireless networks

When calculating TCO, costs divide into capital expenditures (Capex) and operational expenditures (Opex). 

Capex includes:

  • Acquisition costs for hardware: the amount paid to get the wireless access points, cables, switches, hardware controllers, and other networking equipment
  • Acquisition costs for software: the amount paid to get the software licenses, if needed
  • Installation and provisioning costs
  • Initial system customizations

Opex includes:

  • Staff, usually the highest cost item. To calculate this, look at the employees’ salaries and productivity rates. How much time do they spend on troubleshooting the network? Is the technology stack helping them use time efficiently, or is it preventing them from being productive? Is training taking a lot of the staff’s time?
  • Recurring costs: for example, subscriptions for software
  • Server costs, for example, costs of hosting the UniFi Controller on AWS 
  • Service and support, including fees to change the system configurations, expenses for troubleshooting, on-site visits to fix issues and costs for system monitoring
  • Charges for security, upgrades, back-up, and maintenance of the system
  • Costs of downtime and productivity losses
  • Depreciation of fixed assets: depreciation, for example, of your wireless access points and hardware controllers, if you have any (if you are asking yourself what depreciation is and how to calculate it, read this article by ProfitBooks)
  • Electricity, storage, floor space, internet subscription
  • Customization, feature updates
  • Replacement services and warranty 
  • Costs for decommissioning the system and switching to another technology stack

What are the best strategies to reduce the cost of wireless networks?

We’ll mention three best practices to reduce the total cost of ownership of WiFi networks:


  1. Cloud managed wireless access points. Cloud management reduces installation costs thanks to zero-touch provisioning; dramatically decreases the time spent by the staff on configurations, monitoring, and troubleshooting; cancels the need for on-site visits. Also, without a hardware controller, there are savings on electricity, floor space; with less hardware comes less complexity and lower replacement costs, as well. The trend towards cloud and the vast advantages of bringing applications to the cloud are widely-recognized (Forbes, 2016). 
  2. Standardize to reduce inefficiencies. Make so that all the wireless equipment is manageable through a single platform because that minimizes the wastefulness of using a multitude of different systems (which relates to training costs, loss of productivity, staff costs, service, and support costs). It makes it easier to analyze data across all the networks. 
  3. Outsource when possible and avoid customizations. Outsourcing some of the operational expenditures (such as maintenance, servers, security, back-up costs) reduces TCO. It’s better to choose a ready-to-use product available on a subscription basis instead of customized solutions. That allows spending time on something more valuable for the business. In the long term, using a SaaS brings a TCO reduction (here is an interesting article by Information Week about the topic).

How does Tanaza reduce the cost of wireless networks, specifically?

Tanaza is absolutely the pioneer of introducing these strategies for TCO optimization in the wireless access points market, allowing up to 60% in savings in 5 years

By using Tanaza’s operating system TanazaOS, wireless access points management happens through a single centralized platform, whatever is their manufacturing brand. Standardization reduces operational expenses, and the freedom to buy multiple brands’ access points reduces CapEx considerably.

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Cloud management provided by Tanaza reduces OpEx throughout the whole life cycle of access points, from installation to configuration and maintenance. Also, it cancels the need for physical hardware controllers installed on-premise (CapEx).

Finally, Tanaza takes care of many operations, including server maintenance, back-up, security patches, and fixes, and ensures high availability (99,99%) of the system for minimum downtime and productivity losses. 


Discover more about Tanaza’s cloud management platform for wireless networks


What is vendor lock-in? Why should it be avoided?

The vendor lock-in is the ability of vendors of software or hardware to make their customers dependable to them, due to the high switching costs of transitioning to another vendor.

It’s a typical situation in the enterprise wireless market when choosing a vendor typically means being stuck with them for the whole access points’ life, because switching the entire infrastructure to another vendor would be too expensive.

Choosing between being loyal to a hardware vendor or going multi-vendor has substantial consequences on TCO calculation.

On one hand, users might think that going with an established enterprise brand would imply having lower Opex, thanks to the reliability of products and the quality of services offered. On the other side, going for an established brand and being “locked-in” to that vendor usually implies getting stuck in their expensive license system. Also, it makes it hard to innovate or apply changes outside of the vendor’s product and services portfolio: finally, that would result in extremely high (and often unbudgeted) operational expenses.

Finally, without vendor lock-in, the pace of innovation accelerates. In case users want to go for another brand of wireless access points, with Tanaza, that doesn’t imply changing the whole software and hardware infrastructure – just the hardware. Also, Tanaza allows its users to keep up with the pace of innovation, thanks to the continuous release of new features.


Discover more about the next features for Tanaza’s software

Tanaza celebrates World WiFi day

Tanaza celebrates World WiFi day

World Wifi Day Blog
Today is June 20th and we celebrate an important global initiative – World WiFi day.
What is World WiFi day?
World WiFi day celebrates the significant role that WiFi plays in our society. This initiative celebrates innovations and supports new projects that help bridge the digital divide worldwide and aim to “connect the unconnected” in both developed and developing countries.
Why do we celebrate World WiFi day?
Tanaza was founded with the goal to disrupt the WiFi market. We did so by developing an innovative WiFi cloud-based software that leverages the WiFi hardware commoditization trend, that would support the ubiquitous expansion of WiFi networks, both on a local and a global level. Our mission from the very beginning was to contribute to establishing a world where any person and any object are connected, anytime, anywhere, wirelessly.
How do we contribute?
With the ever-growing need for a fast and ubiquitous WiFi connection in most public spaces, we hope to contribute to bridging the digital divide. So far, we are proud to support this initiative by serving the needs of thousands of clients in various sectors, in more than 150 countries.

At Tanaza, we believe that the current market conditions allow the disaggregation of hardware and software to occur also in the Wi-Fi networking market and make the same disruption happen.

With this in mind, and as part of our continuous contribution to the development of the WiFi space/market, we also have recently introduced Tanaza’s latest innovation: a Linux-based operating system for open Wi-Fi networking devices.

TanazaOS discards the vertically-integrated model by encouraging the decoupling of hardware and software in the networking market and particularly in the wireless networking segment.

We are also proud to mention our latest partnership with Telecom Infra Project (TIP) to improve WiFi Internet connectivity and pursue opportunities to deploy innovative technology. Our aim is to improve interoperability, minimize costs, increase Wi-Fi quality, leveraging as much as possible an approach inspired by the Open Source community and software/hardware disaggregation. Within this project, Tanaza intends to maximize software/hardware disaggregation, deploying large scale pilot projects in conjunction with other members, such as operators, ISPs, WISPs, interested in specific innovation aspects covered by the TanazaOS innovation project.

Since it was founded, Tanaza has received five Seals of Excellence from the European Commission as well as the Horizon2020 grant with this year’s submission. Tanaza also received the “Best Enterprise Wi-Fi Solution” award during the Wi-Fi NOW Conference in Berlin in November 2018, and was listed among the 2019 Red Herring Top 100 Europe Winners.

How disaggregation allows you to reduce your CAPEX and OPEX

How disaggregation allows you to reduce your CAPEX and OPEX

How disaggregation allows you to reduce your CAPEX and OPEX

The disaggregation concept embraces the open-source approach where WiFi solution providers can decouple their hardware choice from their software choiceThis decoupling trend has already been successful in other industries such as the computer and smartphone markets.

In the WiFi industry, disaggregation enables WiFi professionals to control their costs when deploying or upgrading a WiFi network and obtaining significant cost savings.

How disaggregation allows you to reduce your CAPEX and OPEX

At Tanaza, we fully embrace the disaggregation concept and our software allows you to choose the hardware vendor most suitable for their deployment. Our latest product, TanazaOS is a Linux-based operating system for centralized wireless network management developed based on the disaggregation concept. TanazaOS allows enterprises and service providers to reduce their CAPEX and OPEX.

Thanks to disaggregation, the business model of a WiFi solution provider using TanazaOS encourages them to:


Reduce WiFi hardware cost

For example, when a WiFi solution provider using TanazaOS has to decide the type of hardware for his next WiFi deployment, he will be able to choose cheaper wireless devices such as consumer/SMB devices which cost around $100/unit, unlike someone using a vendor-lock-in solution who will have to spend around $300/unit (hardware + software solution).

By using TanazaOS, a WiFi administrator enjoy the same set of professional features whatever the model of access point selected. Features include for example remote monitoring, centralised configuration, multi-site management and self-provisioning.

How disaggregation allows you to reduce your CAPEX and OPEX

Save time and money for the WiFi deployment

TanazaOS self-provisioning system enables WiFi administrators to pre-configure the access points before shipping them to their customers (offline configuration).
Once online, the wireless devices will automatically sync the configuration, allowing WiFi administrators to speed up the WiFi network deployment and to reduce on-site travels costs. Moreover, large WiFi network configurations are facilitated thanks to the network-wide configuration system.


Save money on WiFi infrastructure maintenance

When managing a WiFi network, the TanazaOS’ remote management feature enables WiFi administrators to reduce maintenance and troubleshooting cost: receive email alerts in case of access point disconnections, perform manual or scheduled reboots directly from the cloud, and keep an eye on your access points status thanks to the global map. This has direct impacts on maintenance budget such as no need for technicians on site, the fast configuration from a centralised platform, firmware’ scheduled upgrade, and disconnection alerts.


TanazaOS is conceived around the disaggregation concept, which means offering the option to select software from one vendor and run it on hardware from a different manufacturer. It is an operating system that supports WiFi solution providers who are looking for a flexible and efficient self-provisioning system that facilitates unlimitedly scalability and helps in delivering wireless networking services faster.

At Tanaza, we want to deliver a complete and cutting-edge product. With this in mind, we are constantly expanding our set of featuresFor more information about the new TanazaOS, feel free to try the interactive demo or to contact one of our Tanaza consultants.

TanazaOS, the new cloud-based operating system for WiFi access points – Coming soon

TanazaOS, the new cloud-based operating system for WiFi access points – Coming soon

 TanazaOS, the new cloud-management platform for WiFi networks

Tanaza will soon launch a new product: TanazaOS, a Linux-based operating system for centralized wireless network management. 

TanazaOS is an operating system that fully disaggregates hardware and software as it runs on different access points models and open-hardware networking devices, giving enterprises and carriers an unprecedented possibility to decouple their hardware choice from their software choice, with considerable cost savings and efficiency advantages.

TanazaOS will continuously be updated to deliver turnkey features, patch vulnerabilities, and drive security and stability.

Keep in mind: TanazaOS will not replace the previous Tanaza all-in-one product.

TanazaOS is specially designed around four 
main features:


  • Self-provisioning

  • Centralized configuration

  • Multi-site network management

  • Remote monitoring

Save the date.


TanazaOS website goes online. 
TanazaOS interactive demo tool will go live.  Test out the new product and learn more about the available features.


Official launch of TanazaOS!
TanazaOS will be available for trial and purchase.

Coming soon: TanazaOS, the new cloud-management platform for WiFi networks

Be the first to discover the new TanazaOS software, schedule a demo with one of our consultants.

Get updates about TanazaOS’ features, exclusive information, and the release date.