In the in-building wireless connectivity world, progress is often viewed through the lens of enabling pervasive data connectivity for all employees working in a particular building at a given time. However, the impacts of building automation, and IoT in general, will have a potentially greater impact on in-building networking requirements going forward. As AI/ML-fueled automation pervades IT networks, which, in turn, creates demand for sophisticated IoT-enabled building automation, ubiquitous connectivity in support of these concepts will become table stakes.
Although many building owners are starting to view the quality of their in-building network as a fundamental amenity, there is still a sizable sentiment within the commercial real estate industry that connectivity is a tenant and/or CSP issue. To put it bluntly, as IoT continues to proliferate, properties that do not have an adequate in-building infrastructure to support applications and services in the 5G era will find it difficult to compete for tenants. As this happens, building net operating income (NOI) will likely suffer.
Naturally, no one in the commercial real estate ecosystem wants this to happen. As the next phase of in-building wireless unfolds, here are a few recommendations to help support new and/or ongoing deployments.
- Large venues: Move beyond internet connectivity. Despite the fact that most airports, large malls and entertainment venues have at least partial DAS installations and some level of public Wi-Fi connectivity, owners of these properties must take the next step. This includes becoming more aggressive deploying small cells that will offer a migration path to 5G. It also means working with an ecosystem of partners that will help deliver a premium experience to attendees.
- All venues: Shared investment models are needed. Although large, marquee venues can often attract a major wireless carrier to lead investments into DAS and other in-building connectivity solutions, there is a precipitous drop off in carrier willingness to front investments in venues that do not fall into the “largest of the large” category. In these cases – which represent approximately 95% of commercial real estate throughout the world – stakeholders need to consider shared investment models that will help to spread the cost of comprehensive in-building networks among a number of investors that stand to benefit.
- Tech providers must help make investments count. If a material investment hurdle into next-generation in-building wireless networks is a fear on the part of building owners and/or tenants to invest in technology that can be rendered obsolete before the investments can be adequately depreciated, then technology providers need to work with investment stakeholders to ensure that investments made today remain relevant as the market moves towards 5G. In many cases, this means providing technology with logical and flexible evolution paths from the current state of the art to future developments (i.e. 4G/LTE to 5G). However, beyond this, it can mean working with building owners to help schedule investments in a way that creates attractive ROI models for both the short and long-term.
To download The Great Indoors: In-Building Wireless is a Must, a comprehensive examination of the current state of the in-building wireless market, please click HERE.
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