As the onset of 5G, the next evolution in cellular technology, approaches, future-proofing their assets remains top of mind for commercial real estate landlords and property owners.
Cellular connectivity, often called the fourth utility, has become the most significant pain point for tenants, and as building owners continue to compete for tenants, its robust provision has proven to have a considerable impact on NOI and tenant retention.
According to a survey by CommScope, 94% of IT executives believe that in-building cellular performance has a direct impact on business while 87% of facilities managers consider wireless coverage imperative.
“We believed that back in 2009 that indoor cellular would be a nice amenity and we have seen that it has changed into a requirement,” said Nicholas Stello, senior vice president of IT at Vornado Realty Trust, which owns and manages nearly 24 million square feet of commercial office space in New York City.
Stello, who spoke as a panelist with industry experts regarding the impact of 5G during a recent CREtech event, underscored the importance for building owners to stay ahead of the game.
Vornado, one of the early adopters of in-building wireless technology, has found that there is a clear and direct correlation between the quality of cellular coverage and tenant retention, attraction, leasing, and marketing, said Stello.
Factors impacting the need for 5G
While the direct impact from 5G may still be four to five years away, the commercial real estate industry is at a critical inflection point where either it will adapt or face extinction.
As data consumption driven by tenants, consumers and smart building IoT devices and sensors which enabled reductions in operational costs, improve tenant experience and increase workplace productivity continue to proliferate building owners that want to compete will need to adapt and bring significant technological improvement to their buildings.
Together both consumer and tenant demand and smart building technologies are increasing the need for higher bandwidth, speed and reduced latency from cellular connectivity. However, realizing these advantages will require buildings to boost their cellular infrastructure.
How will 5G impact commercial office buildings
The deployment of 5G is likely to improve commercial real estate by reducing the need for public Wi-Fi, automating smart building processes, transmitting higher definition surveillance camera videos and providing a link to outdoor networks for seamless autonomous vehicle traffic and smart grids.
Vornado Realty plans to use the technology to improve its IP camera systems to deploy advanced life safety and facial recognition technology in their properties as 5G emerges, said Stello.
“We want to make our properties as open as possible [with] technological innovations and third-party partnerships and make sure capital entry is reasonable,” he added.
Determining if your building is 5G ready
5G readiness is dependent on two factors. First the amount of optical fiber currently in a building and second the strength of the existing in-building cellular coverage, according to Soyola Baasan general manager of DASpedia, a cellular coverage rating company.
According to Baasan, testing your building connectivity involves a simple test using mobile devices to assess the cellular coverage from all the providers and 5G readiness. Once an assessment is complete, then owners can determine what enhancements are needed to be 5G ready.