multifamily

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

We get subpoenaed all the time… tales of a managed Wi-Fi service provider.

We get subpoenaed all the time. It’s the reality of being a managed wireless service provider and one of the most important, and often least talked about, aspects of the service we provide to our building owner clients. CALEA (The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act) Compliance is one of the main differentiators between offering your residents WiFi services from a managed provider and hotspot services from a cable company or telco.

Just this week we were called out west to testify in a trial where illegal activity took place over the WiFi network of one of our properties. Luckily, when the government needed to obtain network activity, the property had Spot On UserSafe® WiFi services and was therefore in compliance with CALEA. We, as the service provider, work with the government entity to provide all the necessary information, testimony and technology pathways to gain information. If the property in question had simply provided unmanaged hotspot WiFi connectivity, they would not have been able to provide the pathways to information gathering that the government needed and could have been subject to a fine of $10,000.00.

CALEA fines are no joke, they are real and they are enforced. We have had multiple customers come to us for services after having incurred a fine for being out of compliance with CALEA. No property owner should have to incur this fine, it is completely preventable. While a simple hotspot can be very inexpensive or even free to put unmanaged hotspot WiFi into your amenity areas but the whole thing falls apart if a CALEA request comes in and the property is out of compliance.

For those who are not familiar with CALEA, it requires a “telecommunications carrier” to ensure that they have the ability to enable law enforcement officials to “conduct electronic surveillance”. Essentially if a property throws up a router to provide WiFi services to residents, they become the “telecommunications carrier” and are liable for fines and other acts of law enforcement if they cannot fulfill CALEA requirements. As a managed service provider, we handle all aspects of CALEA compliance so the building owner does not need to worry.

In addition to CALEA requests, another common issue we run into are government requests related to Copyright Infringement. This is another very real scenario where building owners find themselves subject to fines and even in some instances could be labeled a “co-conspirator” to illegal activity that took place over their network. A managed service provider handles Copyright issues as well.

To sum it up, a managed service provider is much different than a Comcast or AT&T, our mission in everything from our network monitoring to our network architecture is design with the building owner in mind. While you may pay less for cable or telco services, sometimes even getting them for free, you can’t put a price on peace of mind. That is what UserSafe® WiFi is all about: peace of mind for the building owner and providing a great service for residents that increase property value.

New Multifamily WiFi Model Provides WiFi Calling and Subscription Services To Residents

Spot On Networks new WiFi offering allows building owners to offer residents property-wide WiFi calling and subscription data services while continuing to honor marketing exclusivity agreements with cable and telco companies

 

For Immediate Release

New Haven, CT February 27, 2017

Spot On Networks (“SON”) announced today the development of a new service offering that provides property-wide WiFi calling service and subscription-based tiered data services to residents in multifamily buildings. This new service offering uses SON’s UserSafe® WiFi technology to provide property-wide seamless, high-quality voice coverage with Quality of Service (“QOS”) and voice packet prioritization. This same wireless service also allows residents to subscribe to low-cost high speed WiFi internet services as an alternative to the high-cost plans offered by cable and telco ISPs. The new solution allows building owners to offer WiFi for voice-only services at no-cost while preventing residents from receiving data services unless they subscribe, thus allowing building owners to honor their existing marketing agreements which often do not allow a property to offer bulk data services. The property-wide wireless backbone also provides amenity area data services to residents at no cost and support for the Internet of Things (IoT). The pricing for this new model is significantly less than other voice solutions like a Distributed Antenna System (“DAS”).

The multifamily industry has long been plagued with poor in-building cellular coverage due to energy saving construction materials such as concrete and low-emission glass. Poor cellular coverage has hurt the multifamily industry resulting in dissatisfied residents and lease issues. Solutions to the in-building cellular coverage problem prior to the cellular carrier’s adoption of WiFi calling had been predominately cellular booster systems or DAS which is often a non-starter due to high cost and long deployment time. A property-wide wireless backbone with WiFi calling and subscription data services will typically cost a building owner $0.40 per square foot which is about one-fifth of a DAS solution.

While WiFi calling has been available in various forms for years, it has only become a viable in-building voice solution in the past eighteen months due to native dialing support from the four major cellular carriers: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint as well as a host of MVNOs with various WiFi calling solutions and device offerings such as Republic Wireless and Google Project Fi. Spot On Networks has been developing and testing managed wireless services that support seamless, high-quality WiFi calling with QOS and voice packet prioritization for years.

“We have long been involved in developing in-building voice solutions for our building owner clients,” stated Spot On Networks CEO, Dick Sherwin. He continued, “Our CellBoost® product gave building owners a quick-to-deploy and cost-effective alternative to the DAS solution – but we have always seen the future as Voice Over WiFi. Because many building owners have existing marketing exclusivity agreements with cable and teleco companies, they were prevented from providing property-wide WiFi to residents. Our new wireless model allows building owners to use the less-expensive and more sophisticated UserSafe® WiFi solution for voice while honoring their marketing agreements AND providing residents with faster, lower-cost data services.”

Spot On Networks new hybrid voice and data solution is currently being deployed in many properties across the U.S. and is being highly sought after by affordable housing authorities, real estate investment trusts and multifamily building owners.

About Spot On Networks

Spot On Networks (“SON”) is a wireless internet service provider and wireless consulting company representing tens of thousands of residential and commercial tenants, nationwide. SON designs, deploys and manages carrier grade WiFi, WiFi Calling and CellBoost® networks to multifamily, senior living, hospitality, retail and commercial buildings. Spot On’s wireless networks are backed by patent-pending network architecture and UserSafe® technology.

SON is the leading provider of managed WiFi networks and in-building voice solutions to the U.S. multitenant housing market and is a trusted leader in wireless since 2004. SON develops WiFi-backed solutions to solve the most pressing problems facing today’s building owners.

 

 

World Wi-Fi Day To Highlight Wireless Connectivity For Everyone As A Necessary Utility

The Wireless Broadband Alliance announced on January 14 there will be a “World Wi-Fi Day” on June 20, 2016, “an initiative that will accelerate affordable wireless connectivity around the world”.  This event will focus on the division between connected and unconnected societies and focus on the opportunities for societal advancement that wireless connectivity offers.

The goal of World Wi-Fi Day is ultimately to figure out a way to provide connectivity to everyone, everywhere.  Lack of connectivity is not only isolated to developing countries (where billions of people lack any connectivity) but is an issue in developed countries like the U.S.  Low income housing and urban areas contain hundreds of thousands of people who are still unconnected and even more do not have access to sufficient connectivity.  This lack of connectivity contributes significantly to decreased opportunity for certain populations.  World Wi-Fi Day is a call to action to get connectivity to these people and the Wireless Broadband Alliance is encouraging governments, operators, service providers, vendors and Internet giants everywhere to participate in this effort.

Spot On Networks is extremely proud to be at the forefront of building wireless networks that are geared towards providing secure and reliable wireless connectivity to the largest urban low income housing developments in the United States.  We fully believe that everyone should have access to secure, reliable and fast wireless connectivity.  Property owners, developers and governments now recognize the importance of providing wireless access to residents of their communities.   Wi-Fi, which used to be viewed as a nice-to-have amenity for urban residential properties, has become a necessary utility.

In addition to raising awareness, World WiFi Day will “celebrate the significant role Wi-Fi is playing in getting cities and communities around the world connected”.  With the proliferation of wireless devices and our dependence on Wi-Fi for Internet access, voice, streaming, security, home automation, social interaction – the digital divide continues to increase.  The good news is Wi-Fi has the ability to offer widespread, secure connectivity and with proper network management, it is possible to get people in urban areas connected the way the need to be in order to be competitive in an increasingly wireless world.

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

 

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