Cellular connectivity is an important driver of apartment resident (dis-) satisfaction. Every modern developer has stories of prospects walking out of a tour when their cell phones don’t connect at acceptable speeds. For residents who are streaming entertainment, working from home and staying connected with loved ones, reliable and strong wireless cellular connections are crucial for living spaces in our constantly connected world.
Three possible solutions to poor cellular reception include:
- Promoting wifi calling as a user-based solution inside their home;
- Installing a Distributed Antenna System solution as an overlay to existing building systems;
- Offloading all cellular signals onto a managed wifi network solution like Google’s new Orion program.
DAS (Distributed Antenna System) is a network of small antennas strategically placed where connectivity is weak throughout a building to amplify cellular coverage. DAS receives cellular coverage directly from service carriers and can support a variety of mobile phone providers across the nation. Caveats to DAS systems include the (unbudgeted) capital cost, and the vagaries of the originating cellular signal. If the external signal is weak, generally speaking, a DAS can’t improve a nonexistent signal.
Wifi calling may be the simplest option if the problem is not systemic and the residents have modern smartphones, and wifi access points in their units, with sufficient bandwidth to support voice traffic on top of other uses. Users turn on the feature on their smartphones, and connect to their own access point, without the involvement of the property owner or management.
Google’s Orion program may be something of a hybrid—a building-based, network-centric approach to offloading cellular traffic. This program requires a managed wifi network that uses selected, compliant wireless access points with the correct protocol in place. This early-stage solution generates revenue for property owners, but may entail network privacy risks that are not yet fully understood and new to property ownership.
Smarter apartments. Real revenue.