The way residents use technology is constantly changing. Whether it’s the work-from-home revolution with the need for lighting fast symmetrical download and upload speeds, the desire to stream entertainment across multiple devices, the need to pair phones and watches to workout equipment, or simply wanting the reliability of being able to be online whenever and wherever, as a society, we are more connected than ever before. 

The way apartment owners and developers are using technology is also changing.  Apartment owners are installing more smart apartment devices such as lights, locks, thermostats and leak detection.  These as well as building systems such as access control and A/V need to be connected to an owner-controlled network.

The high demand for steady and reliable connectivity where one lives, plays, and works is a huge factor in where people ultimately decide to call home. Multifamily community owners and property developers who are watching these trends are taking notice and making the switch from either retail subscription models or modem-based bulk internet to property-wide managed Wi-Fi ensuring fast and dependable connectivity for their residents as well as higher profits for their portfolios. 

Modem-Based Bulk Internet vs. Managed Property-Wide Wi-Fi – What’s the Difference?

Resident Setup: Traditional modem-based bulk internet requires that a resident receive the modem and have it placed in their unit. Prior to COVID, this would have been installed by a professional but now modems are typically mailed to residents or picked up in retail stores, and installed by a resident. This can lead to a gap in internet connectivity when residents first move in. There can also be some issues or service degradation due to Wi-Fi channel interference between multiple modems in close proximity. A managed property-wide Wi-Fi is a network that is managed together, with devices that can work independently. The devices are pre-installed by the provider, either during new construction, or can be added to an existing community. When residents move in, the service is already on and ready to go. 

Owner Devices and Systems:  When retail service or modem-based bulk internet is the business model, owner’s need an independent owner-controlled network for IoT, access control, A/V and others.  With managed property-wide Wi-Fi, most providers allow owner’s to leverage SSID’s or network ports for these building services and for leasing office Internet.  This offers an opex cost savings opportunity.

In short, Managed property-wide Wi-Fi is an owner-controlled network. While modem-based bulk is a provider-controlled network, which can make managing IoT or smart apartments a hassle from an owner perspective.  With property-wide managed Wi-Fi, owners are able to leverage the same centralized service to provide residents an enhanced living experience while also taking advantage of a secure property-wide network for their own staff. 

Is There an Impact on Rent Premiums, IoT Connectivity, and Security? 

 When it comes down to the dollars, owners have options! Some owners are including the cost of managed Wi-Fi within the monthly rent or adding it as an amenity charge, still, some are simply leaving it as an included amenity for their residents. It really boils down to determining a price that provides good value to the residents, which is typically a little bit lower than what the market rate would be for that service on a retail basis.  

There’s no doubt that this owner-controlled network is the foundation for deploying things like IoT. Owners have total control of the network and it’s always on, even when the resident moves out, solving the headache of trying to conduct the move-out and re-lease process manually, which is unavoidable with traditional modem-based bulk internet. But, that’s not the only benefit. A managed property-wide Wi-Fi network is the foundation for other prop tech that will, no doubt, be coming down the pipeline in the future. 

In this new digital climate, the one thing that everyone seems to agree on is security. Everyone needs it.  The networks that are being installed by qualified providers and allow residents, guests and property staff to leverage a secure connection. Once a new tenant gets their credentials, they sign in once and they don’t have to worry about entering codes anymore. The network is going to follow them throughout the property so they have a secure connection for all their devices. Whether in common area, their friend’s apartment, the on-site gym, and even sitting by the pool, they’ll never need to switch networks. Managed property-wide Wi-Fi provides a secure and seamless online experience. 

Deciding if the Switch is Right for Your Next Project

Internet really has become the fourth utility. As an owner or property developer, it’s important to first understand and evaluate what the desired use case is. Long before plans are drawn up, new builds have to know what their design intent is. This ensures that the network that ultimately gets installed will meet the needs of the owner, the residents, and the provider. 

In existing communities, ownership must first understand the lay of the land today – who the providers are, what the existing infrastructure is, and what the existing contracts say. Especially when working with existing communities we have to closely consider what impact there might be on existing residents during the upgrade and the needs and buying patterns of the current population. These are the best first steps to understanding what your options might be for making the move to a managed Wi-Fi network.

Even with all its popularity, its benefits to the residents, as well as the owner’s benefits, are clear; managed Wi-Fi is not necessarily going to be the solution that works for every property or property owner. There’s no one size fits all solution. There are many use cases. That’s why RealtyCom is here to help owners land on and deploy a strategy that drives revenue and ensures satisfied residents. Our goal is always to help our clients navigate and solve for a best-in-class telecom solution. 

Smarter Apartments. Real Revenue. 

For a more in-depth conversation with our CEO Rush Blakely, about the future of managed Wi-Fi, check out his guest spot on the Open Door podcast: