The implementation of 5G technologies in the commercial real estate (CRE) sector will enable building owners and operators to deploy a wide range of new applications that will improve the experience of workers returning to the office, Derek Peterson, Boingo CTO, told In-Building Tech.
“As companies welcome employees back to the office, many new factors are at play. Businesses are converting to a hybrid workforce model to accommodate a new digital-first culture that merges remote and physical spaces. From implementing new health and safety standards to ensuring connectivity corner-to-corner, digital transformation has been prioritized, with IoT technologies front and center. With 5G, CRE properties will be able to roll out new connected applications. A small sampling of these applications includes smart parking, smart lighting and utilities management, touchless entry, cashless payments, digital wayfinding tools and more,” the executive said.
In a post-pandemic scenario, the executive said that the industry will continue to see a push for digital payments, touchless features throughout properties, self-service kiosks, automation across common touchpoints, and the emergence of robotic cleaning devices and predictive maintenance features.
Peterson also said that CRE executives should give priority to neutral host models when planning 5G deployments. “This will include merging licensed, shared and unlicensed networks for more throughput, reduced latency, better coverage and lower costs,” he said.
The executive also highlighted that artificial intelligence will also play a key role in the CRE sector. “On the backend, virtualization of network technologies and integration of AI capabilities is allowing IT teams to develop networks that self-heal and incorporate a high-level of automation. We’re doing this at Boingo for our enterprise customers, and it can be a gamechanger. For any industry, CRE included, this advanced use of technology can streamline operations, reduce overhead, increase productivity and decrease costs.”
Peterson said that the global pandemic accelerated digital transformation across nearly every industry. “The CRE industry has moved quickly to adapt. Hoteling, for instance, is a new approach that replaces permanently assigned office seats with shared work areas. With fewer desks in smaller spaces, hoteling requires employees to reserve a workspace ahead of time when they need to come in. To make this model seamless, connectivity must be completely wireless, high-speed and secure with no dead spaces.”
Commenting on the role of cellular technologies, IoT and artificial intelligence to help building owners to retain existing customers and attract new companies, Peterson said that enterprises will need to adopt a mix of licensed, unlicensed and shared spectrum approaches, drawing on cellular, private networks and IoT solutions, among others. “This mix may include distributed antenna systems (DAS) that disseminate and enhance carriers’ cellular signals throughout venues. The in-building coverage of DAS helps counteract network limitations with penetrating walls and low-emissivity glass. Installing an enterprise-grade DAS ensures property staff, tenants and guests receive the best in-building mobile experience,” he said. “Often paired with DAS is Wi-Fi, the tried-and-true method of connectivity in office buildings. Wi-Fi 6, the latest generation of the technology, provides faster performance, lower latency and less bandwidth congestion than previous iterations and helps to bridge the gap.”
“5G technology is here. Investment is certainly a factor, and as more and more use cases emerge IoT and 5G technologies are proving their ROI for commercial real estate properties. The possibilities with 5G and IoT in the CRE sector are limitless. As 5G technologies become more readily available and adoption increases, we’ll only see more and more innovation and an expansion of what’s possible,” the executive added.