How is Buying a Wireless Network like Buying a Boat?

Downeast style charter boat Wreck Valley

Buying a network is like buying a boat in that you do not really know what you need/want until after you have bought it. (Photo credit: Wreckvalle via Wikipedia)

Think about this phrase carefully: “Buy your second boat first.” Lately, I have been thinking of that phrase, which I once read in a boating magazine, and how it parallels some of the thinking processes wireless operators go through when making their technology and product decisions.

Often, when it comes to boating, you do not know what kind of “boat” you want or that you are even in the market. You show up to the boat show and are overwhelmed by the number of models, features, prices, etc.

To make a long story short, you end up picking something that is shiny/new, fits your near-term budget and matches how you envision the experience. What you did not know is how the “boat” rides in the water, how well it will perform with your children trailing in the water in an inner tube, how it is at storing all your swag, how roomy it really is once you add your friend’s family and the dog, etc. It is only after you get to know these things and “boating” in general that you start to realize what it is that you really want.

But now, you are stuck for at least a few years since—as you can imagine—you cannot easily trade in a “boat” that you have owned for just a short period of time. You need to stick it out until it makes sense financially, all the while watching “boats” you really want zipping around on the lake. If only you could go back in time and buy your second boat first. This experience draws parallels to wireless network buying decisions for a few reasons:

  1. Depreciation of wireless networking assets—much like a boat, the network does not pay for itself for a number of years down the road. Memories and the fun on the boat is really the only way to assign the boat a monetary value, but a wireless network is similar in that its usage is paying down on the investment
  2. What’s shiny/new is not always what you actually need—don’t be emotional. You need to understand what it is you really want to build toward. Stop thinking about how you can get by on the cheap to satisfy a relatively short-term, emotional goal
  3. Experience/expertise—whether buying a boat or buying a wireless network, find someone you can trust, someone who has done it before and has the experience to work with you on the complete package, the solution and total cost of ownership. Test-drive your friend’s boat for a day or take him to the boat show

Suffice to say you really cannot predict the future, but you should know where you want to go and where you want to be. Knowing you should be thinking about how to build the right network first just makes sense.

Steven Loebrich
Director, Partner and Solutions Marketing
Aviat Networks

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