Some of our customers have asked about Wifi options for SmartLink. While we are considering WiFi for future releases, following are the primary reasons for building our primary offering on cellular.
Distance from the Irrigation Controller to the WiFi Access Point
Most of our SmartLink sites are on commercial properties. In many of these cases, the controller is too far from the WiFi access point to get a reliable connection. This can also be the case in residential applications where the controller might be outside the residence rather than the garage, or where the placement of the router in a large residence doesn't provide a reliable connection.
Enterprise IT Implications of using the Corporate WiFi Access Point
Many large corporate campuses have tight security on WiFi access points and enterprise IT has ongoing password resets and protocol that make accessing the network difficult. When there is an issue with connectivity, we don't imagine corporate IT will want the landscape contractor troubleshooting the issue on their network. Also, it would be difficult for Weathermatic to troubleshoot these issues remotely. The goal of SmartLink is "plug-and-play." Currently, the SmartLine controller, Weather Station and Aircard can be installed in an hour. Involving enterprise IT to access with WiFi would likely greatly expand the complexity and time of installation.
Low Cost of Data and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
Our data costs are very low since we typically only communicate with the controller once per day. As such, the cost difference between cellular and wifi is negligible. SmartLink is Software as a Service (Saas) and customers pay the annual fee for the software services vs data/connectivity/etc. Think about it like you would pay for software like Quickbooks, Microsoft Office, iCloud Storage, Box.net, etc. Weathermatic has made significant investments in software development over the last few years and has ongoing costs to support, improve and manage the infrastructure. The software subscription allows the company to offer this new service and continue to provide additional value through the service.