A year and a half into the coronavirus pandemic, multifamily resident expectations have begun to change. With millions of Americans still working from home, the main thing on residents’ minds is a strong, reliable internet connection — and not just in their apartments.
“Reliability and ease of use have always been important, but with so many people working from home now, being able to maintain a strong connection no matter where they are in their home and throughout the property is critical,” said Syed Qadri, principal architect at Quantum Fiber.
Qadri said it is not enough to simply provide a strong, in-unit connection. Building owners need to go above and beyond to make sure residents have secure, reliable internet access from anywhere, especially if they want to compete with other multifamily buildings in their market.
Bisnow recently sat down with Qadri and Brad Hinthorne, an architect/principal at the architecture firm Perkins&Will, to learn more about resident connectivity expectations and how building owners can meet them.
Bisnow: Outside of their apartments, where are the key places in the multifamily building where residents expect seamless WiFi connection?
Hinthorne: There’s a simple answer, and that’s “everywhere.” Everybody wants to be connected pretty much everywhere they go in a building, whether it’s the gym, or the rooftop, or even the parking garage.
Qadri: I would agree. We’ve spoken to numerous multifamily property developers who are incorporating common spaces, from working areas to dog parks. They want residents to have access to WiFi everywhere. They want ubiquitous connectivity, for residents to stay on their personal, secure network wherever they go.
Bisnow: How can building owners provide WiFi to outdoor areas?
Qadri: Building owners can partner with companies such as Quantum Fiber that specialize in property-wide internet solutions. Quantum Fiber’s team of experts utilize specifically-designed outdoor-rated equipment and strategically place them in locations to ensure the most effective WiFi coverage. In some instances, we also install antennas that extend coverage to difficult-to-reach areas. Every property is different. Customizing solutions based on the unique requirements of each building/property is a key factor in the overall design.
Bisnow: What are some challenges building owners face to delivering property-wide WiFi to their residents?
Qadri: Property owners need to think ahead and prepare for the future. It’s important to engage with their internet provider early in the planning process. The right connectivity needs to be established between the individual units and the area where the equipment is housed. If there’s outdoor space, it’s important to establish a plan that allows residents to stay connected to their secure and private network while roaming the property. Pre-planning ensures we customize and place equipment in the right location to provide the best possible coverage. The key is to design and layout properties with connectivity at the top of mind.
Another major factor owners need to consider is security. When you deploy WiFi, in general, there are a lot of risks. The system must allow every resident that signs up for service to be segmented from each other. There’s a thing called micro-segmentation, where each customer has their own private personal area network. Even though they’re on the shared wireless network, they’re still secure from other residents. So their internet experience is identical to having a traditional WiFi router in their home.
The advantage to Quantum Fiber deployment is that the resident has the same experience as a traditional wireless coverage service. But they also have the added advantage of taking their private network wherever they go in the building. Residents can enjoy sitting poolside and they can still connect to their TV in their home because they are on the same personal secure network.
Bisnow: What types of new technologies or amenities are residents expecting as a result of the pandemic?
Hinthorne: Everyone is still trying to figure that out right now, especially buildings that added things like huge gyms with rows and rows of treadmills less than 6 inches apart. There’s a lot of pressure on owners to create more distanced amenities that allow people to not only have personal space to allay Covid concerns but also work somewhere in peace. That’s why there is an increased focus on conference rooms you can reserve and hotel-like working areas. It’s hard for building owners to strike a balance. A lot of these are not revenue-generating spaces, so how can they work them into their pro forma? And how can they compete with the rest of the market?
Qadri: Regarding technologies, the main thing builders and residents want is flexibility. This is why Quantum Fiber deploys a WiFi network specifically tailored to the building owner’s property needs. Builders want to be able to offer guests access in certain areas while providing residents secure access for the units. They want to be able to integrate IoT solutions, whether they are resident-owned, property-owned, or part of a provider holistic solution. They also want more touchless experiences and the ability to offer virtual tours.
Another valuable option for developers is a wired connection in the unit. Since many people are still working from home, a wired connection provides faster symmetrical speeds and reliability.
Quantum Fiber(SM) Connected Communities provides customized fiber solutions for apartments and communities.
This article was originally posted on https://www.bisnow.com/blogs/quantumfiber on October 31, 2021 and was produced in collaboration between the Bisnow Branded Content Studio and Quantum Fiber.