Senior Living building owners realizing the necessity for commercial-grade WiFi

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One of the last residential industries to catch on to the installation of commercial-grade WiFi has been the Assisted and Senior Living industries, and understandably so.  With a considerably higher age demographic than the typical MDU/ MTU, which caters primarily to millennials, managers of Senior and Assisted Living properties are starting to see a real demand from both residents and their families for commercial-grade WiFi as both an amenity.  As more technologies that improve Senior Living operations become available, building owners have the ability to offset the cost of deploying WiFi by lowering operational cost and saving on energy usage.

According to an article from titled: “WiFi in Senior Living Becoming Necessary Investment” in Senior Housing News:

“Yet due to security concerns, a rising demand among residents, and an ongoing shift toward a host of web-based services designed to make senior living and care more efficient, providers are finding in some cases they can’t afford not to make the investment.”

  • Some properties do attempt to self-install routers to simply offer WiFi access in property amenity areas so that they can provide Internet to families and residents, but this approach can be wrought with serious issues, lack adequate device support and can cause properties headaches that distract from property management duties:
  • Security: WiFi security issues are very real and seniors are especially vulnerable to hacking and identity theft.  It is important to have a WiFi network backed by UserSafe technology to ensure that users on the network are guarded against hacking and identity theft.  Technologies, like UserSafe™, isolate each individual user on the network so that no other user can access their device or information.  This means that shopping, banking, email and surfing are all safe guarded.  This is not the case with a self-install WiFi router, even when password protected with encryption, users are still vulnerable and exposed.
  • Support: Building owners that have attempted to self-install their own WiFi networks can attest to what a mess it can quickly become.  WiFi is a technology that needs constant support, monitoring and maintenance to ensure a positive user experience.  Spot On Networks has an in-house NOC (network operations center) that monitors the WiFi network 24/7 so that we are made aware of and can address a problem typically before the user even notices.   This support is essential to property managers so they can focus on running their facility, not on WiFi problems.
  • Wireless Operations Add-Ons: New wireless technologies are being geared towards improving operations at Senior Living facilities.  Vitals, bed sensors, security systems, medication dispensers, patient tracking devices and energy management can now allow for wireless monitoring which allows for large operational savings and better operating efficiency.  A commercial-grade network is essential to these technologies due to the need for continuous network monitoring.
  • Resident and Family Demands:  The senior population is getting more tech savvy by the minute and is showing the same rate of increase as the rest of the population.  59% of seniors 65+ are online and 71% of those are online every single day.  In addition we are noticing more properties whose resident population wants WiFi access, not only for themselves, but for their visiting families.  Children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren expect to have WiFi access everywhere – including when visiting relatives.
  • WiFi Calling: New smartphones are being built with the ability to make calls over WiFi the same way that you would over the cellular networks.  This is a huge plus for building owners who tend to have indoor cellular coverage issues inside their buildings.  This technology is predicted to be the next game changer in the wireless industry and will allow for very inexpensive voice coverage to be delivered throughout a building.  For residents and their families, having adequate indoor voice coverage is a necessity.  Quality WiFi calling can only be obtained with a commercial-grade WiFi network with QOS and voice packet prioritization.
  • Seniors and internet adoption

    Image source: http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/04/03/older-adults-and-technology-use/

Next-Gen MDUs: The Internet of Things

By now you have probably heard the buzz-phrase “The Internet of Things”, which simply means everyday appliances that are connected to the Internet.  Wireless no longer means just getting on the Internet with your computer – our televisions, phones, audio equipment, fitness equipment, kitchen appliances, security systems, window treatments, lighting and thermostats are all linked to the Internet, wirelessly.  We now have the ability to monitor our homes, appliances, energy and more from our phones or tablets, even when we are not home.

So what does this mean for residential and multitenant properties?

It means a lot.  MDU properties need to adapt to the Internet of Things as more and more residents expect not just wireless access, but a wireless life.  Spot On has been in the WiFi business since 2006 and we have watched the progression of the wireless amenity in the MDU/ MTU industries.  What we see today are more and more MDU/ MTU properties needing a “WiFi backbone” that can support other residential amenities… everything from building energy management, to wireless fitness equipment to wireless laundry services to total building automation.  The “WiFi backbone” has become the epicenter of many other residential amenities and because everything is wireless, building owners and staff have more control and insight over their properties.  Residents experience more ease of use, time saved, luxury amenities and are tending to chose properties that are offering the most convenience and the best work/ play offerings.

What do building owners need to know?

The Internet of Things need support and a lot of it.  A typical “hotspot”/ router scenario will not be able to offer anything close to a good user experience.  The “WiFi backbone” scenario offers total support for all devices and a NOC (network operations center) that is constantly monitoring and adjusting the network for usage and devices.  In addition to the need for support, monitoring and maintenance, security is of huge concern.  WiFi, but nature is not secure.  Client-isolation technologies, like UserSafe technology, ensures that devices hooked up to the network are only able to “see” the Internet, never another device.  This is not the case with a hotspot scenario (even one with password protection/ encryption), where devices can “see” each other.

 

NetPulse360 V3.4 – Provides Building and Venue Owners with Advertising Capabilities and Network Insight

Spot On Networks, LLC Releases NetPulse360™ V3.4 – Provides Building and Venue Owners with Advertising Capabilities and Network Insight

New Haven, CT February 10, 2015 – For Immediate Release

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NetPulse360 V3.4 provides building owners with network insight into their entire portfolio of property WiFi networks.

Spot On Networks, LLC (“SON”), today announced an additional set of features for it’s NetPulse360™ network insight dashboard.  These features respond to requests by
multifamily residential building owners, retail/ hospitality venue owners and Assisted/ Senior living building owners who want to have insight into their network operations, analytic reporting and network monetization opportunities.

Network Monetization Platform and Splash Editor

Now building and venue owners can use their network splash pages to post advertisements and coupons encouraging customer retention and brand awareness.  Banner advertisements can be linked to an external URL.  Click through analytics are recorded so that the building/ venue owner can see how many times their link is being clicked on.   All recorded analytics can be reviewed and downloaded for reporting in the Data Capture feature.  Splash pages can now be edited in Splash Editor by NetPulse360™ users including adding logos, images, colors and more.

Enhanced Equipment Insight and Alerts Platform

Now building and venue owners can use their network splash pages to post advertisements and coupons encouraging customer retention and brand awareness.  Banner advertisements can be linked to an external URL.  Click through analytics are recorded so that the building/ venue owner can see how many times their link is being clicked on.   All recorded analytics can be reviewed and downloaded for reporting in the Data Capture feature.  Splash pages can now be edited by NetPulse360™ users including adding logos, images, colors and more. Enhanced Training and Support for NetPulse360™ Users

NetPulse360 Training Center offers video tutorials on all NetPulse360™ features as well as a user documentation forum where users can receive step-by-step instructions to features and answers to the most frequently asked questions.   Users may also contact support and report bugs.

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NetPulse360 allows you to see how much data is used on your network, who your top users are and much, much more!

After speaking with multifamily residential building owners, commercial building owners and retail/ hospitality owners, our research and development team created NetPulse360 which allows users to have insight into their WiFi networks.  Feedback from our customers was essential in determining the features developed in this latest release of NetPulse360.  Our customers wanted more user data reporting, network monetization capabilities like advertising and better equipment insight.  We believe that NetPulse360V3.4 satisfies our customer’s needs and we look forward to investing in future releases of this application,” said Richard Sherwin, Chief Executive Officer at Spot On Networks.

About Spot On Networks

Spot On Networks is the largest Wireless Internet Service Provider to the multifamily industry. In addition to offering its UserSafe® managed Wi-Fi services to the multifamily, hospitality and commercial industries,  Spot On Networks has a range of wireless services including CellBoost®,  a cell coverage enhancement service, and  WiFiPlus+®, its wireless backbone integrated with energy management, building automation and security monitoring.

For more information about this press release or Spot On Networks please contact:

Jessica DaSilva

Sr. Director of Marketing and Development

Phone: 203-523-5210

jdasilva@spotonnetworks.com

As Amenity WiFi takes 1st, 2nd and 3rd place as most important

For student housing and millennials, WiFi is clearly the make or break amenity. Not only is WiFi ranked #1 as the most requested amenity, but the popularity of the traditional amenity areas is relying on WiFi as well. Fitness centers that could once get away with only providing access to fitness equipment are now utilizing WiFi based equipment and need to provide fast and reliable signal for WiFi use on mobile devices. Laundry rooms are alerting residents via WiFi monitoring when their laundry is done. Business centers, cafes and lounges have become hubs for social media networking, selfie posting, checking email and mobile workstations.  We recently encountered a property where the lounge “fireplace” was being show on a SmartTV (Awesome feature, by the way).

It’s no longer enough to have a fitness center, a pool or a spa.  Now, developers have turned toward enhancing their amenities and improving the ‘lifestyle’ of their residences with such amenities as virtual gold installations, lazy rivers, jumbotrons and decked-out fitness rooms. ‘The most important thing in student housing has become the internet,” says Richard Holtz, CEO of Infinisys Electronic Architects, “and the second-most important thing is the Internet and the third most-important thing is the Internet.'” – “Head of the Class: 5 Key Student Housing Amenities” Multifamily Executive 

According to Multifamily Executive’s Key Student Housing Amenities list, 4 out of the 5 amenities utilize WiFi and NEED managed WiFi to function well.  This list of amenities included: 1)WiFi Internet 2)Digital Fitness 3) Increased Outdoor Space (this is the one on the list that did not specify WiFi, however WiFi in amenity areas is clearly a necessity for student housing and MDUs housing millennials 4) Tech-Equipped Study Rooms 5) Keyless Room Entry via Smartphone

Obviously with Student Housing residents becoming so dependent on wireless, hi-tech amenities, residential complexes will have to follow suit to maintain the expectations of residents.  These high-tech expectations will require serious network management as many of the features mentioned in the Multifamily article simply will not offer a good user experience without a great wireless network to back them up.

Image courtesy: multifamiliyexecutive.com  “Head of the Class: 5 Key Student Housing Amenities”

WiFi Calling About To Turn Carrier Business Model On It’s Head With Help From Google and Cablevision

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WiFi calling news has started the New Year off with a major bang.  The big news in Q3/ Q4 of 2014 was of course the announcement of support for WiFi calling for all 4 major carriers and WiFi calling enabled on iOS 8.  Are the carriers too late though?  That is the question being asked by some industry experts who speculate that there are much bigger WiFi calling things at work here – primarily in the form of cellphone service that focuses on providing the best user experience with a large focus on WiFi calling(Finally!!!).  For the multifamily and assisted living industries, primarily, WiFi calling will have a major impact on the services expected by residents and tenants.  While both industries have been burdened by indoor cellular coverage issues that have up until now required expensive in-building cellular solutions, WiFi calling will allow building owners to provide residents and tenants with property-wide coverage for a price drastically less than DAS or CellBoost®.

Both Google and Cablevision are preparing for releases of two major product offerings that are sure to be wireless industry game changers.  with Cablevision’s service utilizing WiFi first as a platform for voice, data and text.  Here’s the skinny on the two offerings:

Cablevision: Cablevision is starting a WiFi-only mobile phone service called “Freewheel” which will allow for unlimited data/ talk/ txt for $9.95/ month for Cablevision subscribers and $29.95 for non-subscribers.

Google: Google’s service would utilize T-Mobile, Sprint and WiFi, locating the best available signal for voice, text and data usage.  This service will be offered nationwide and is expected to be rolled out in the first half of the year.

Both of these offers are massive shakeups to the wireless telecom industry and projects of what is to come.  For years the public has lacked choice in wireless and have been victims to the four major carriers and their exclusivity agreements.  The introduction of the WiFi unlicensed spectrum to the voice industry will undoubtedly provide the public with more choice and the market with more competition.  There have been start-up attempts to release WiFi-first devices by companies like Scratch Wireless and Republic Wireless, however these two offerings are the first major products from large, non-carriers.

Wireless experts are taking note of the impact that this “disruptive” technology will have on the industry and the companies themselves:

It’s a very aggressive move,” said Dave Fraser, CEO of Devicescape, a company that is stitching together a network of millions of WiFi hotspots worldwide.  “You can image Google driving down the price to be disruptive and paying for it with revenue from other services that the company already provides, like search and advertising.”

To read more about this exciting wireless industry news: http://adage.com/article/media/google-cablevision-aim-upend-wireless-industry-wifi/296810/

 

 

The beginning of the end of cable TV

Recently Dish Network announced it’s new Sling TV package, an OTT service that allows for streaming TV and is targeting millenials.  Many news outlets are touting Sling as the beginning of the inevitable end of cable TV.  What makes Sling different from other streaming services – a whole heck-of-a-lot.  Up until now it’s been pretty common knowledge that while streaming TV and Movies is dragging more and more customers away from traditional cable packages – there are still those who are afraid to make the jump.  The common answer to the “Why do you still have cable?” question is typically:  I can’t watch my sports.  There have been work arounds to this with Sport-centered OTT applications like NHL game Center that provide access to major league sports.  The problem with major league sports steaming applications is that they cost a lot of money.

The great news is: Sling has ESPN!  This is huge news and with all the hype around Sling, it seems as though more and more Millennials will be making that final push from traditional cable services to full-on WiFi based TV, movies, music and Internet.  Here is “the dish” on Dish’s Sling TV:

  • only $20.00 per month live TV
  • 12 channels INCLUDING: ESPN, TNT, CNN, HGTV and DISNEY
  • Stream over WiFi and watch on your WiFi enabled device (TV, computer, mobile)
  • You DO NOT need to be  a Dish customer to subscribe to Sling TV
  • You can “add-on” bundles of other channels for $5/ month

Sling is a pioneer in TV streaming for sure – the NetFlix of television packages and hopefully, the beginning of a lot more streaming options for those who want to CUT THE CORD!

Read more details about Dish TV’s new Sling TV on Cnet

 

WiFi experiment shows just how unsafe WiFi “hotspots” can be

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UserSafe WiFi – Only From Spot On Networks. IF YOU CANNOT BE SEEN. YOU CANNOT BE HACKED.

On the streets of London, the German company, Finn Steglich set up a WiFi “hotspot” in pubic and waited for people to connect. When people connected to this unknown network, they received a splash page asking to accept a Terms and Conditions page to connect.  Many login pages for WiFi networks will use a splash page, whether it be Terms and Conditions, a password or other login method.  This DOES NOT make the network safe as the experiment proved.  Unbeknownst to the users they were accepting a Term & Conditions page that required they give up their first born child or favorite pet in order to be able to use the WiFi!  Many times WiFi small print will contain clauses that states information that is being transmitted can be seen, captured, shared or indemnifies the provider if a user’s data is hacked.

Now comes the scarier part…

Within only a half hour 250 devices had connected to this rogue hotspot.  Many of the connections were automatic without the owner of the devices even knowing it!  32 MB of personal data was collected during the experiment.  The problem with connecting to “hotspots”, even if they have a splash page, password protection or encryption, is that the users device is visible to other devices on the network.  If a device is visible – it is hackable.

For residential, hospitality, commercial and retail spaces it is absolutely essential to guard users from hacking and identity theft.  Client isolation technologies, like UserSafe™ technology, isolate each individual user on the network so that they are not visible to anyone else on the network.

Read more about the experiment here

Fast WiFi tops comfort for hotel guest in an amenity survey

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Do you remember the days of dial-up, the tedious process of connecting to America Online, that “You’ve got mail” alert signaling a piece of digital correspondence you have received while you were “off-line”? Most travelers who travled for business in the AOL era knew the headaches of rigging up connections to get news and stocks updates on their oversized laptops. The aforementioned concept seems almost foreign in 2014. In the ever-connected world of smartphones, tablets, lightweight laptops, internet users demand unlimited bandwidth, free wifi, unlimited downloads and virtually no disconnection times. And for various reasons, WiFi has topped every other amenity in the hotel industry.

A survey recently conducted by AMBA Hotels, the newest 4-star brand in UK, has found that free and fast WiFi tops the list of amenity factors that guest base their booking decisions on. Surveying 1000 participants, 67% stated the WiFi was the most important factor in their booking decision. It topped even a good night’s sleep at 58%, as well as friendly staff, which came in at much lower 40%.

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Guest ranked free WiFi as well as hotel’s location as the most important factors. 84% of guests reported suffering from the lack of fast WiFi. 33% stated that slow hotel internet has cause them to miss out on important work emails and 8% spoke of loss of business by not being able to communicate with their clients. 34% stated they wanted faster WiFi with unlimited downloads.

Lawsuit targets Comcast dual SSID routers

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As we have mentioned in the past, the building out of Comcast’s Xfinity WiFi network is being accomplished primarily through the activation of a second Xfinity WiFi SSID on consumer routers.  This practice has many consumers unhappy and questioning how it can be that Comcast is using its customers resources for it’s own gain: “Comcast Thinks Its Okay To Install Public WiFi In Your House”   A class action lawsuit has just been filed in California against Comcast.  Comcast never received authorization from its customer to broadcast a second public SSID from their homes and the lawsuit claims that:

“Indeed, without obtaining its customers’ authorization for this additional use of their equipment and resources, over which the customer has no control, Comcast has externalized the costs of its national Wi-Fi network onto its customers,” the court filing says. “The new wireless routers the Company issues consume vastly more electricity in order to broadcast the second, public Xfinity Wi-Fi Hotspot, which cost is born [sic] by the residential customer.” Comcast sued for creating public hotspots using private wireless routers — RT USA

For those who are unaware of the secondary Xfinity SSID – Comcast is working on building out its WiFi network, with a target of 8 million Xfinity WiFi hotspots accessible to Comcast subscribers.  These hotspots are not actually being built out by Comcast, they are being broadcast from paying subscribers home routers.  These SSIDs are being broadcast “opt-out” which means that they are broadcasting an Xfinity SSID as default in addition to the personal SSID of the Comcast subscriber.  Many consumers are not even aware that this is occurring, they simply see an Xfinity SSID when they scan for available WiFi networks and assume that it’s location is somewhere else – they don’t even realize it is being broadcast from their own home.  While consumers are technically able to “opt-out” from the secondary SSID, consumers are complaining that the opt out process is complicated, Comcast employees don’t know how to advise it and the links to opt-out are not even working.  While there are certainly questions as to the ethics of Comcast’s practices, there are also very valid concerns about the service impact on Comcast subscribers:
1. Utilizing Customer Resources For Their Own Gain: In addition using a router that the customer is paying for to build out their own network, Comcast is utilizing customer resources like electricity.  So a customer is paying a portion of their electric bill to cover Comcast’s WiFi network.

2. Service degradation: Because a router only has one bandwidth pipe going into it (bandwidth which the customer pays for based on their plan) that bandwidth is shared between the two SSIDs.  This can cause a decrease in service to the customer if a stranger logs on to the Xfinity SSID. This is something that Comcast recognizes, stating that because WiFi is a shared spectrum experience, there will be, “some impact as more devices share the network.”

3. Security: With hacking and spoofing an ever increasing threat to our personal security, of course consumers are deeply concerned about having strangers accessing WiFi on their personal router.  While Comcast, of course, is attempting to minimize the threat to security saying they utilize the same encryption as financial institutions, with companies like Home Depot, Bank of America, Chase and Target in the news for breach of personal security due to hacking – customers should be very concerned about what is Comcast is doing.

This is a big problem for Comcast subscribers in the MDU space whose secondary SSID could potentially be broadcast to very large amounts of people at any given time.  Until it become more clear as to what the legal implications of Comcast’s behavior might be, it is important that consumers be aware and know that they can contact Comcast to get this secondary SSID shut off.  Taken from the Comcast website:

How do I disable/enable the XFINITY WiFi Home Hotspot feature?

We encourage all subscribers to keep this feature enabled as it allows more people to enjoy the benefits of XFINITY WiFi around the neighborhood. You will always have the ability to disable the XFINITY WiFi feature on your Wireless Gateway by calling 1-800-XFINITY1-800-XFINITY. You can also visit My Account at http://customer.comcast.com/, click on “Users & Preferences”, and then select “Manage XFINITY WiFi.”

 

Wireless Operators See WiFi Calling As “The Next Big Frontier”

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A recent article from fiercewireless.com addressed what wireless operators are calling: “The Next Big Frontier”: WiFi Calling.  Ruckus Wireless CEO Selina Lo was asked to comment on the industry excitement surrounding WiFi calling and expressed her belief that WiFi calling will be a “long term trend”:  “WiFi calling is definitely going to be a game changer in terms of service provider business models.  T-Mobile was the ground-breaker in terms of seeing the potential for WiFi as a vehicle for voice services, though their vision was early in the market when they debuted Hotspot@Home WiFi calling (which was discontinued around 2010).  T-Mobile’s pioneering, however, allowed them to be at the forefront of WiFi calling when the market was ripe and be the first carrier to say it will support WiFi calling on the iPhone.  Verizon and AT&T followed suit announcing that their networks will support WiFi calling in 2015 – the largest carriers simply can’t ignore the demand for seamless WiFi calling.

WiFi calling has been around for quite awhile, in one fashion or another, but the difference is that now the market is ready to take WiFi calling mainstream and WiFi calling has carrier support. It is the seamless carrier experience that will allow WiFi calling to garner mainstream acceptance.  Dave Fraser, CEO of Devicescape, was quoted in FierceWirelessTech discussing the market change:

“Being able to make voice calls over WiFi is the final thing that you weren’t able to do… Your data worked over WiFi the same as it did over cellular, all your apps worked the same, but making a voice call never worked.  You had to use and over-the-top application like Skype.  Now with this being completely seamless, you can do everything on WiFi that you can do on cellular, and its also waking up all the large operators.  They’re looking now at how WiFi can be combined with their traditional network, so it’s a very good sign of things to come, and we are wonderfully enthusiastic about it.”

It is hard to comprehend how huge the last 6 months have been for the wireless industry.  With the cellular carriers no longer having control over voice a whole slew of voice options are open for industries that are wrought with poor cellular coverage, namely MDU/ MTU buildings and commercial properties.  If you are interested in a WiFi calling network for your property, contact us.

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