MDU

Managed WiFi Solutions for MDU / MTU, Hotel, Assisted Living, & Restaurants

Carrier Grade WiFi Network as a Service (“NaaS”) in Multi-Tenant Properties

WiFi Service has become even more ubiquitous than cellular services. At the end of 2016 mobile data traffic offloaded to WiFi network services exceeded mobile data traffic on cellular services.[1] Providing a WiFi NaaS in multi-tenant buildings is particularly problematic due to the density of users, building structures and the demographic makeup of the residents for carriers other than Spot On Networks.

Millennials and Gen X’ers utilize more mobile data capacity than other segments of the population and generally make up the majority of residents in multi-tenant buildings. As mobile devices have proliferated, these residents have begun to utilize mobile video streaming services instead of the standard linear video programming found on cable networks. These Over the Top (“OTT”) applications, in conjunction with more advanced chip sets in mobile devices has led to greater demand for mobile services especially at home.

Newer buildings with Low Emission Glass and concrete and steel structures are more likely to have poor cellular services, whether 4G or 5G, within the building.  WiFi has become the primary connection option for residents of these buildings.  The density of users within these building requires WiFi access points with much higher capacity than those in a single family home or hot spot.

Access points are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the WiFi NaaS. Back-end architecture and monitoring need to be in place to ensure Quality of Experience (QOE), security and reliability.

WiFi Reliability has become increasingly important as more data traverses these networks. With OTT video streaming applications becoming increasingly popular, deploying a WiFi NaaS with increased redundancy and the elimination of interference due to other nearby access points becomes critical.

No longer is “best efforts” good enough for large multi-tenant buildings, especially when the WiFi NaaS is being used for streaming video and voice services. SON’s patented Tessellated Grid Design offers a unique approach to multi-tenant buildings. By deploying this patented design, the WiFi NaaS is characterized by reduced radio frequency interference, thus improving connectability, capacity and speeds, and by coverage redundancy for each apartment, thus increasing reliability.

For voice services, Quality of Service (QOS) implementation establishing voice packet prioritization, and “handoff” (connecting from one access point to another) controlled by the back end network architecture provides superior quality service for residents, thus obviating the need for a more expensive in building cellular augmentation solution. Seamless handoff across all of the access points in the NaaS is a necessity in a multi-tenant building as a resident moves from apartment home to corridor to amenity area.

WiFi security is a major issue in dense environments. A triple level of security is required to ensure prevention of hacking and privacy invasion. Not only are user codes and passwords required, but encryption of those codes reduces the possibility of user code capture. Furthermore, with Spot On Networks’ (SON) patented UserSafe® technology platform, client isolation is implemented across all network elements, preventing hackers from seeing or “sniffing” other user devices. If devices cannot be seen or “sniffed” they cannot be hacked, thus increasing the level of security significantly.

A managed WiFi NaaS, with proactive network monitoring and a 24/7 HelpDesk, resolves issues before they are apparent to the resident, and offers a service to residents who have issues obtaining network connection. Network analytics, a part of the monitoring function, provides building owners with the knowledge of how much and by who data is being used.   In conjunction with the improved performance offered by its Tessellated Grid Design and the security of its UserSafe® technology platform, SON’s WiFi NaaS offers unique capabilities for the multi-tenant building not available from any wired internet service provider.

[1] Cisco Visual Networking Index – 2/7/17

Multi-family Cell Coverage A Major Issue – New York Times Takes Notice

This Sunday’s Real Estate section of the New York Times included an interesting article: The Cellphone Imperative: If I Can’t Text, I’m Moving, which addressed the ongoing issue of poor in-building coverage in NYC multi-family buildings and the negative impact that lack of coverage has on leasing apartments.  Solutions range from WiFi Calling all the way to DAS – but the point is clear, it’s time for building owners to pick a solution or risk losing potential renters and buyers.  See below for a run-down of the most popular solutions or contact us to discuss what solution is right for your property: 203-523-5210.

The Impact

So just how negative an impact does poor in-building cellular having on leasing and selling apartments?  The NYT made it pretty clear:

“’It could kill a deal,’ said David J. Maundrell III, the founder of aptsandlofts.com, which was acquired a few days ago by Citi Habitats.  Being fully connected has become ‘a part of our daily routine,’ said Mr. Maundrell, noting how prospective residents constantly check their phones during showings. ‘People are addicted to it.’”

Real estate brokers are also taking notice of the importance of good cellular reception inside and are saying that, for buyers, adequate cellular coverage is non-negotiable and is as much a requirement of purchasing/ leasing a home as having a certain number of bedrooms:

“’A strong cell reception is a prerequisite,’ said Michael Graves, an associate broker at Douglas Elliman.”

Apparently, even celebrities are not exempt from facing coverage issues in their luxury apartments.  According to the Times, Jay Z walked away from a long-term lease after suffering a few days of poor cell signal.  Case in point, from billionaire to “renters on a budget”, everyone has cellular coverage on their priority list.

What Causes The Cellular Problem

Unfortunately, building owners encounter the issue of poor cellular coverage simply because they are building their buildings in the best way: using energy efficient materials like low-E glass, reinforced steel and concrete.  These building materials are creating a big problem.  Material like low- emissions glass, for example, is designed the keep the elements out and heat/ air conditioning inside – these energy saving windows drastically weaken cell signal and in some cases do not allow it to pass through at all.

Available Solutions

The NYT article talks a lot about both DAS and wireless networks (WiFi), though it seems to lump them together without pointing out the differences.   This part of the article can be a bit confusing.  A DAS system simply is not an option for the majority of building owners out there due to the high cost and amount of time it takes to get approval on such a solution, WiFi Calling and CellBoost® are very different from DAS in both network architecture, cost and need for approval.  There are multiple solutions for building owners to consider and what is right depends on the needs of the property: budget, the demographics of the building, time-frame for deployment, etc all need to be considered.  Solutions range from highly expensive carrier solutions to the more cost efficient dedicated WiFi Calling solution.  Here is a snap shot of the three most popular building-wide solutions, what they look like and how much they cost (from least to most expensive):

WiFi Calling – Approx. Cost: $0.40 per square foot:

  • What Is It? In-building wireless network with dedicated bandwidth and quality of service
  • Benefits: Cost effective, same physical network provides data services for residents, supports multiple carriers, call quality in testing is often better than cellular
  • Downsides: Currently only available for AT&T, T-Mobile & Sprint (Verizon has said they will deploy soon)

CellBoost® 

- Approx. Cost: $0.75 per square foot:

  • What Is It? Uses a donor antenna to bring existing outdoor cell signal into the building
  • Benefits: Quick to deploy, carrier agnostic, does NOT require carrier approval
  • Downsides: Currently only available for AT&T, T-Mobile & Sprint (Verizon has said they will deploy soon)

DAS - Approx. Cost: $2.00 per square foot:

  • What Is It? Essentially turns a building into a mini-cell site.  Relies on a base transceiver station.  Mostly used for stadiums and arenas
  • Benefits: Provides excellent cellular call quality
  • Downsides: Very expensive, slow to deploy, may become obsolete

 

Cellular Problems At Your Property?  contact us to discuss what solution is right for your property: 203-523-5210.

 

 

WiFi Calling Gets Carrier Support in UK – AT&T Support Updates

wifi-calling-menuWiFi Calling is continuing to make headlines in the U.S. and the UK with carriers on both sides of the Atlantic continuing to scramble to support the feature to meet consumer demand.  WiFi Calling has proven to be of huge benefit especially to owners of large residential buildings that experience poor voice coverage.

Here are the biggest WiFi calling news headlines from the last week:

AT&T Waits for FCC Approval: The latest update from AT&T seems to be that the average customer will have to wait a bit longer for the feature to be active while AT&T waits for FCC approval.  As we have been reporting, the iOS 9 update was available for public beta from Apple and many AT&T customers had the ability to use the WiFi calling features.  Those customers that had access to the WiFi calling feature in public beta will still be able to use it.  AT&T’s statement about the delay: “AT&T tested WiFi Calling through the iOS 9 beta and we are prepared to support commercial launch of the service once approved by the FCC”.  According to AT&T, the FCC needs to approve the RTT (real-time text) feature which is a system used for hearing impaired users.

EE Releases WiFi Calling – Vodafone Plays Catch Up: EE has released WiFi calling.  According to techradar.com, EE customers can already utilize the feature if they are using a compatible device.  As for Vodafone, network support should be available for the Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge in the coming weeks.  UK carriers Three and O2 offer support for WiFi calling as well, however it is in the form of a mobile application and is not native to the device.  The Three and O2 solutions are still an upgrade from OTT apps like Skype and Viber, however, due to their use of the phone number native to the subscribers device.  As for seamless roaming between WiFi and cellular for EE and Vodafone customers, it is not yet available.  EE has positioned itself as a leader in working on a solution for seamless hand-off between WiFi and cellular, however it will not be available until EE switches over to VoLTE later in the year.

Ericsson Announces Support For WiFi Calling On Non-Cellular Devices: Ericsson has expanded it’s WiFi calling offering to include tablets and laptops when a subscriber downloads software to their now cellular device. This new Ericsson offering follows a recent consumer report on WiFi Calling produced by Ericsson consumer labs.  The July report made consumer adoption of native WiFi calling very clear with 61% of respondents claiming to now make more frequent and longer voice calls over WiFi calling and half saying that they are moving away from OTT apps like Skype in favor of WiFi Calling.

For more information on WiFi Calling for residential and commercial buildings, contact: marketing@spotonnetworks.com

 

One More Thing Multifamily Owners Should Consider Before Starting Major Renovations…

architect and foreman in front of a buildingJust read MFE’s article: 4 Things Multifamily Owners Should Consider before Starting Major Renovations.  Granted, the article was more about keeping renters happy during renovation and construction and less about technology’s place during the construction phase, but it got me thinking anyway.  Major renovations on existing buildings are the perfect time for building owners to think about cabling and to implement a cabling plan to future proof their buildings.  Obviously, the perfect time to think about cabling is pre-new construction with an extensive and comprehensive cabling plan, but renovation time is another ideal opportunity to get existing buildings wired for current and future technologies.

We hear this issue often: a building owners spends millions of dollars constructing a new build or renovating an existing one without any cabling plan.  It is often after construction is finished that we are contacted to outfit the property with wireless.  Unfortunately this creates a problem for building owners who end up having to drill into new walls, find room for telecom equipment and aesthetically pleasing places for access points.  Even with the proliferation of wireless devices, cabling is often completely overlooked with no cable having been pulled to the units.  Obviously this is a completely preventable issue that can cost building owners a lot of unexpected dollars and time.  The sooner we can get involved with your new construction or renovation plans to advise on the proper cabling scenario, the smoother the cabling process will go and the happier the resident will be  (less delays and better support for technologies) and the happier the building owner will be (less money spent and the more seamless the result).

We advise that building owners seriously consider a comprehensive cable plan either pre-construction on a new build or anytime major renovations are being planned to save time and money.  A proper cabling plan allows building owners to wire their buildings not only to provide residents and staff with the necessary access to support today’s technologies, but the right cable pulled to the right places can ensure that the building is future-proofed for future needs.  A good cabling plan will provide modularity for the incorporation of data and voice services as well as provide adequate support for IoT.

To request a copy of our Cable Future Proofing for Building Owners White Paper, please email: marketing@spotonnetworks.com

WiFi Calling – What Building Owners Need To Know Part III: The Importance of Network Management

Part III The Importance of Network Management

Need some info on WiFi calling for your property, please click here to schedule a call to review your wireless plan for 2016.

*Just a quick update on the latest WiFi Calling news before we delve into Network Management:  As most of you know AT&T has released WiFi calling for the iPhone with the new iOS 9 update which is currently in public beta.  iOS 9 beta is currently supporting the WiFi calling feature in many locations and new locations are coming online constantly.  If you have iOS 9 and you are unable to activate the WiFi calling feature, just keep trying, your location should be live soon.  For instructions on how to enable WiFi calling on the AT&T iPhone, check out this CNET article, it will walk you through step-by-step.*

Need to catch up? Read WiFi Calling – What Building Owners Need To Know: Part I & Part II

In the past two posts we have addressed Network Architecture as well as QOS, now we will take a look at network management, why it is necessary and what you should demand from your wireless provider.  A lot of the same issues that apply to network management for a wireless data network will apply here. As discussed in previous posts, network issues that would cause resident/ tenant frustration in terms of data streaming, can have a much larger effect on resident satisfaction when it comes to voice coverage.

We know that a WiFi network needs dedicated bandwidth, quality of service, signal that provides adequate coverage while mitigating interference and the right equipment – but what is working in the background supporting those network elements is essential to performance and reliability.  Did you know it can take 5-10 dedicated employees to properly manage a wireless network for one mid-size MDU?

What makes a good Network Management team?

We believe that proper wireless network management should be comprised of four divisions:

  • 27/7 Customer Support: A must-have. Resident and guest issues ranging from how to use a certain device to how to log on to troubleshooting problems can all cause a lot of distraction for property staff.  Dedicated, live customer support should handle all user issues so that property staff never have to lose time dealing with the wireless network.  In addition to live support, extensive FAQs, troubleshooting guides and tutorials should be available online for users who prefer online self-help methods.
  • Network Operations Center (NOC): Network operations should be comprised of Tier 3 support technicians that are monitoring your wireless network 24/7 using smart, diagnostic nocsoftware with the ability to constantly analyze your network and diagnose network and equipment issues before they cause problems for users. 99% of issues should be able to be dealt with remotely from the NOC, but when an issue that does need to be dealt with onsite occurs, the NOC needs to be able to deploy technicians to handle onsite equipment issues right away.
  • Dedicated Customer Relations Manager (CRM): In addition to Customer Support and Network Operations Support, building staff should have access to a dedicated point of contact to deal with administrative issues and get questions answered. This CRM is a liaison between building staff and the network provider, answers general questions for building staff and trains staff and building owners on network capabilities.
  • Diagnostic and Insight Analytic Web Applications: We firmly believe that building owners should have 24/7 insight into their equipment and networks as well as real-time analytics on network performance (NetPulse360 is Spot On’s proprietary network insight web application). Building owners should be able to see the status of their network, how network equipment is functioning, who is on the network and how they are using the network.   In addition, it is essential that your provider’s NOC be using diagnostic and analytic software that watches your network and is able to actively diagnose network issues before they become customer facing problems.  Your wireless provider should have proprietary software and in-house developers that are actively releasing features for both internal diagnostic and customer-facing web applications.  Having in-house developers of these web applications is essential so that if you, as a building owners, need to request a custom feature or need to request a certain type of reporting, the wireless provider can quickly turn that request over for you.  In addition, network customization, like custom splash pages, the ability to offer residents subscription based service and more rely on customized web development initiatives.

support-2014Existing Marketing Agreements and Dedicated WiFi Calling

A managed network has the ability to offer multiple tiered services to residents and guests, including subscription-based services that are implemented remotely.  The ability to offer subscription based services in and MDU/ MTU setting are key in relation to wireless networks.  Some MDU/ MTU properties have exclusive marketing agreements with Cable providers that do not allow them to offer free wireless services throughout their buildings.  These marketing agreements DO NOT extend to a dedicated voice network.  Adequate network management should be able to set up multiple Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANS), including dedicated property-wide WiFi calling at no cost and competitive, subscription-based Internet plans at cost to residents.  This model allows building owners to provide property-wide voice coverage to all residents while offering the ability to subscribe to Internet services.  Setting up multiple VLANS on one physical network is a solution that absolutely needs ongoing network management not only for support and monitoring, but for management of the subscription plans, registration, security and billing.

Network Management & WiFi Calling

As discussed in our previous posts, WiFi network reliability and signal strength are key to implementing WiFi calling as a property-wide voice solution.  In order to ensure optimal equipment operation, mitigation of potential network issues and consistent monitoring of bandwidth and voice packets, a total wireless network management solution is necessary.  Un-monitored WiFi calling in a multi-tenant, multi-residential space will not suffice as a true in-building voice solution.

Conclusion & Third Party Testing

Spot On Network has spent the last few years architecting and engineering dedicated WiFi calling networks and have begun to deploy these networks throughout the county.  Spot On’s dedicated WiFi calling solution has been independently third-party test verified as being not only as clear and reliable as the cellular network, but many times offering a superior voice service.  Spot On has the ability to build property-wide dedicated WiFi calling networks that are in agreement with cable marketing agreements.

For more information about WiFi calling for your property, please contact us to schedule a call to review your wireless plan for 2016.

WiFi Calling – What Building Owners Need To Know – Part I

For a private webinar on WiFi calling for your property portfolio, click here.

It was almost a year ago that Apple announced the WiFi calling feature for iPhone and that set off a slurry of wireless chatter: if Apple was investing in WiFi calling development for T-Mobile, market demand would have to push the two majors (AT&T & Verizon) to support it….., right?  After all, what iPhone user is willing to forgo an iPhone feature for carrier loyalty (pretty much no one…. perhaps except for some of the lucky few who are still grasping onto an unlimited data plan)?  But seriously, Apple has basically dominated and dictated the tech market with the iPhone since 1997… so those of us in the WiFi world were, of course, speculating (hoping) that major carrier support was only months away after the T-mobile announcement.  Well, we were almost right….iOS 9 is on pace to offer WiFi calling for AT& T customers and Verizon is still promising WiFi calling by end of 2015… so there you have it: WiFi calling is here.

Successful business lady standing with hands foldedSo, What Does All This Mean For Building Owners?

It mean’s a heck-of-a-lot.  First off and  most importantly it means that a property-wide WiFi networks will not only provide property-wide data services, but voice coverage as well.  The in-building voice problem that has plagued the multifamily/ multitenant industry for years is no quick and inexpensive to solve.  WiFi calling means that other voice solutions like DAS, and Small Cell will be pretty much obsolete due to the length of time it takes to deploy, the necessity for carrier approval and the tremendous cost.

That being said, now is the time for building owners to get educated on WiFi calling, what it means and how best to implement it to their portfolio.  (For a private webinar on WiFi calling for your company, click here).  At Spot On we have been testing dedicated WiFi calling networks as an In-Building voice solution for the last couple of years and have had 3rd party-tested verification that a dedicated WiFi calling network with QOS is not only as good as cellular, but in many cases, call clarity was vastly improved.  What is essential here are three things: QOS, Network Architecture and Network Management.  In the next few posts we will go over each of these things in detail and why they are so important to a quality VoWiFi network.

WiFi Calling QOS (Quality of Service)

So, what’s all this talk about QOS (quality of service) and voice pack prioritization and how does it affect WiFi calling?  Quality of Service is necessary to ensure voice experience.  One thing that is very important to remember is that a multi-residential setting and a single-residential setting are not the same when it comes to WiFi (we will get into this more when discussing Network Architecture).  Think of a WiFi data network: you are watching a movie on Netflix and you have a poor WiFi connection.  What does your movie do when the connection gets slow?  It buffers.  Really annoying and can certainly put a damper on your movie experience, but once the buffering is complete your movie continues.  Voice is very different – signal loss or signal interference (the same that would cause a movie to buffer) can kill a voice call, cause jitter and fade or make a voice completely unintelligible.  VoWiFi does not use anywhere near as much bandwidth as data BUT (and it’s a big but), the signal needs to be consistent.

Another scenario: You go to make a WiFi voice call at home, someone else jumps on the router and starts streaming a movie.  Again, with data this might cause your Internet surfing to slow, but you would still be connected to the Internet.  With voice, the bandwidth hog could literally cause your call to drop by taking all the bandwidth and pulling it for their data streaming.

The way we deal with this in an MDU/ MTU setting is by setting up a dedicated voice network, only for voice calls.  We ensure that all voice packets are prioritized and we do this by constantly monitoring the network, making sure that voice comes first and data does not interfere.  This network model is also beneficial to building owners who have marketing agreements with cable companies but still want to offer WiFi services throughout their property.  Spot On can set up a dedicated WiFi voice network that is for all residents and voice only as well as a data network where residents can subscribe to data services.  This allows the property to offer VoWiFi in a bulk WiFi scenario without interfering with cable marketing agreements.

Stay tuned for more…

If you would like to request a private webinar on WiFi calling for your property portfolio, click here and we will get your questions answered.

BISNOW Multifamily Annual Conference, LA 2015

I attended BISNOW’s (www.bisnow.com) Multifamily Annual Conference yesterday in Los Angeles. Although billed as a national conference (and attended by large, national owners and developers like Essex, UDR, MG Properties Trust, Lend Lease, CBRE), the focus for many of the discussions was the multi-family market in California. Oz Erickson from Emerald Fund pointed out that San Francisco has seen an 80 thousand increase in new jobs over the last four years but only a 10 thousand unit increase in apartments…similar (yet not as striking) numbers were presented for Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. This supply shortfall was blamed on a number of factors, including California’s CEQA regulations. You can Google “CEQA” for a rundown on the regulations and the lawsuits. Regardless of where you’re at on the political spectrum, the conclusions were clear: demand for multi-family units is soaring and the supply can’t keep up. From the millennials to the aging boomers who’ll be looking for senior housing options, the American suburb and the single-family house have lost some of their appeal. High walk-scores, work-life amenities and a more urban existence have replaced the green lawn as the desirable lifestyle. In fact, a new (to me) amenity was articulated: drone pad. Someone is expecting the Amazon drone deliveries to be sooner than expected I guess.

Some other information that was articulated (not confirmed, so take it with a grain of salt):

Home ownership is at a 48 year low; all-in build costs have doubled in San Francisco over the last 5 years; “adaptive re-use” appears to be an appealing answer to these high build costs; Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac will continue to be a dominant provider of  capital to multi-family business (from Willy Walker of Walker and Dunlop).

The event ended with an excellent interview with Ethan Penner http://ethanpennermcap.blogspot.com/ who imparted some wisdom to would-be entrepreneurs gleaned after a mid-career burnout: find an unmet need; this will lead to a profit margin; profit margins = entrepreneur and employee joy; don’t ever retire. Seems like good advice to us.

 

Cord Cutting Making Big Headlines As Giants Like Apple Get TV Serious

We recently wrote an article about Dish TV’s new offering, Sling TV, which is the first really attractive internet TV package.  Attractive because Sling includes both ESPN and Disney Channel, two titan channels previously unavailable in internet TV packages due to the cost to the provider of including them.

Now cord cutting is making quite a bit of major news headlines.  Just this week, two big articles came out in The Wall Street Journal with the lastest on pay-for internet TV and what the future holds.  In “Unbundling Pay-Tv Brings New Questions“, the WSJ states:

“The media industry is racing toward an Internet-TV future at a breathtaking pace.  But the swift changes, highlighted by efforts from Apple Inc, Dish Network Corp. and others, are giving consumers an array of confusing options and forcing entertainment giants to confront some sobering realities.”

For a day and an age, the cable companies have held a tight court over TV viewing, even navigating their rein through the streaming giants: Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.  The bottom line was: if you want live sports, if you want to watch live shows, if you want access to movie channels, you have one option: a $90.00+ / month cable subscription.  This is changing… and changing fast due to serious commitments to internet TV from the likes of Apple, Inc., Sony Corp. and Dish Corp.

The whole pay-for internet TV model is based on the premise that YOU control what you pay-for and get what you want.  This, of course, gives the media giants the argument presented by Philippe Dauman, CEO of Viacom, in WSJ:

“If you buy retail and you have six or seven of these things [referring to pay-for Internet channels], that might cost you as much as a bundle that gives you 400 different networks.”

Dauman’s take on things is simply outdated at this point and not some Millennials seem likely to fall for anymore.  The obvious counter-argument being, 400 channels of what?  Typically a lot of junk no one wants to watch… and the Millennials are not an easily duped generation.   Millennials are used to much more control over their destiny and their consumption.  This is a generation that wants what they want, how they want it.  This is a generation that wants to scale down and live in a customized “small space”, a generation that has obtained flex hours and work-from-home options- shunning the old-school corporate culture, a generation brought up with Napster and most of all a generation that is completely addicted to their devices and the capabilities that their devices offer.

Roger Lynch, chief executive of Dish’s Sling TV, makes mention of the shunning of pay-for cable TV service, simply: “there’s a growing number of consumers for whom that doesn’t work anymore” and pay-for Internet TV will be, “better for many consumers”.

Clearly, we will be living in a much different media consumption work come this time next year…

 

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

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boomers-love-technology

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/

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/

 

 

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