5G, Wi-Fi and MDUs: Connecting to better experiences
5G connectivity and all the technologies it encompasses will have far-reaching impacts on user experiences and profitability across the real estate and housing industry, including Multi-Dwelling Units (MDUs).
When deployed in conjunction with stable, high-performing managed Wi-Fi solutions, 5G stands poised to help lower deployment costs of all types of smart building solutions, deliver seamless connected experiences for users and help building owners with retention and higher ROI.
As multifamily residential communities, as well as individual apartments, get “smarter”, the buildings work better for everyone, residents and owners, and for occasional visitors using the building as well. As Dean Compoginis, vice president at Nomadix says, residents have a higher affinity for where they live (resulting in higher retention and lower churn) and owners are able to drive higher revenues per resident (which they happen to like as well!)
Delivered in droves
As a real-time example, the pandemic drove millions into a work-study-shop-entertain-from-home lifestyle. Residents, managing their entire lives from home and wanting to limit contact, began ordering products in droves to be delivered to their buildings or onsite lockers. Not only are more packages being delivered to multifamily communities on a daily basis, but they are being retrieved from the secure delivery location more quickly by residents.
This all calls for a more connected, efficient system to manage this activity and deliver a great, frictionless experience for everyone from the delivery driver, to the resident, to the building owner.
The answer? connectivity.
Utilising emerging technologies such as Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), and the deployment of private LTE networks onsite, apartment community owners can ensure that the delivery driver, resident and property manager enjoy a seamless experience whether they are connected to public cellular, private LTE or Wi-Fi. All of these technologies working together help provide the experience that each user expects. Great connectivity also improves the resident experience as entire families manage their lives online.
But let’s discuss 5G for a minute because this might mean different things to different people. There’s the short-range, high-frequency 5G that’s used for getting high-speed data to devices that are in a clear line-of-sight of a cell tower, but this 5G doesn’t penetrate building walls well, if at all.
And, as buildings continue to get more energy efficient, outside radio frequencies (such as those from cell towers) have an increasingly difficult time getting in. This type of connectivity absolutely must be overlaid or augmented by a strong managed Wi-Fi infrastructure for inside the building.
Faster but not fast enough
Some of the other 5G connectivity used by carriers is of a lower-band spectrum that’s used to transmit data over a longer distance. This lower-frequency spectrum may penetrate walls better than higher frequencies, but it doesn’t deliver the kinds of speeds that most consumers associate with “5G”. This type of connectivity is more likened to an “LTE+” user experience faster but not great.
However, the ins and outs of speeds and feeds don’t matter much to residents; they just want a fast, seamless experience they can have anywhere, uninterrupted. The building owners and managers who understand this and are able to deliver it will be able to outperform their competition by leveraging a variety of different technologies, based upon the types of cable plants present across their portfolio of assets.
There are still thousands of buildings and millions of apartment units that are served by aging copper infrastructures, but almost all new buildings in the multifamily space are being designed and built with the advanced fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) infrastructure, which supports enhanced bandwidth to each unit.
Leading telecommunications companies and MSOs (multiple-system operators) are utilising the latest technologies, such as GPON, G.fast, G.hn, Wi-Fi and millimetre wave (mmWave) wireless, to deliver the speeds and services demanded by their bandwidth-hungry residents.
Regardless of which technologies are deployed and managed, as the 5G revolution drives richer user experiences on and off the cellular network, building owners and managers get to play a progressively more active role in the delivery of content and services, unlocking additional, ancillary revenue opportunities.
The role that buildings, including apartment communities, play in our lives is in the middle of a major transformation, from being static things that don’t do much for its users, to being connected, active places that are more closely integrated into residents’ everyday lives. This transformation continues to open up more and more revenue opportunities for owners, helping drive net operating income and resulting in higher asset values across the board.
Whichever 5G, Wi-Fi or other technologies are deployed in the MDU space, the key for operators is today what it has always been; the best technology is the technology that the user never sees. It just works and lets people live their lives the way they want.
The author is Dean Compoginis, vice president at Nomadix.