Eran Dor Pavlov Media Future Multifamily Tech

Multifamily Internet Connectivity: Planning for the Future

by Sarah Daniels

Internet connectivity is the digital equivalent of a foundation for any multifamily property. Residents want access for communications, entertainment, business and personal needs. Property operators need connections for management and reporting software resources. Good and reliable connections to the Internet, and a dependable Wi-Fi network as a way of distributing that access, are essential. Looking three to five years into the future, these connectivity needs become even more demanding and complex.

The Internet of Things (IoT) creates a layer of interesting application and use cases for property owners. IoT defines the collective network of connected technology that enables communication between devices (“things”) and the cloud and/or among the devices themselves. IoT devices are the technology that creates smart home and buildings. IoT devices also support and simplify functions such as rental property management, energy usage reduction, maintenance cost reduction and more.

“Looking into the future, IoT applications can make the property more efficient in surprising ways,” says Eran Dor, vice president of technology products at Pavlov Media. Leak detectors can provide early warning of flooding and appropriately shut off water before any significant damage occurs. Trash cans can be equipped with sensors that indicate when to collect, rather than requiring maintenance personnel to walk the entire campus or waiting until a trash can is overflowing before anyone knows it needs to be emptied. Pool filters could indicate when cleaning is needed outside of a regular maintenance schedule.

“You can keep amenities up and running for the residents with these technologies in new and cost-effective ways,” Dor adds. “IoT is a big thing. It’s a huge target for property owners. It has the potential to manage properties in a more efficient and effortless way.”

Meeting the Need for Better Internet Connectivity for Today and in the Future

The average U.S. household today owns more than 20 connected devices: mobile phones, tablets, televisions, gaming consoles, computers and more. Connectivity demands include working from home and virtual schooling but also movie streaming, music streaming, video calling, content creation, real-time gaming and immersive experiences, such as virtual reality headsets.

A survey of residents will help assess the level of service that they might expect. On average, property owners will need to account for 1 to 5 Gigabits per second of connectivity for each apartment, according to Dor. Then multiply that number by the number of units in a multifamily property and add the needs of the property operator and property management team. The data throughput numbers add up very quickly and in addition many functions required for effective property management software run as connected services. Without a good and reliable Internet connection, they cannot work.

IoT applications and the natural increase in content creation are becoming responsible for more and more data being uploaded. Traditional Cable and DSL connection are at a disadvantage supporting upload requirements compared to fiber technology. If we add immersive applications, such as virtual reality, which require substantial upload capabilities, then this discrepancy materializes even more. 

Fiber-optic Internet is an excellent solution for the demands that are anticipated in the foreseeable future. These have a few significant advantages:

  • Symmetry – the download and upload speed of fiber optics are identical, “which is a huge advantage for content creators; they can get really frustrated if their connection is slow while they upload to popular sites,” Dor says. Further, as online gaming, cloud computing and virtual reality increase the need for bi-directional data exchange, this symmetry becomes crucial.
  • Latency – Fiber Internet presents low latency, which is becoming more and more crucial for online gaming and virtual reality applications to provide a pleasant experience while using these technologies. In addition, low latency is essential for time-sensitive IoT applications. One example could be an automatic gas line shutoff as a potentially catastrophic event happens; in such cases, every fraction of a second counts.
  • Future-proofing – Fiber-optic Internet deployed today — and even older fiber deployments — can usually be upgraded by simply replacing the equipment, without the need of costly construction.

In addition, since the majority of connected devices are wireless, the actual access to the fiber network usually happens through Wi-Fi. The upcoming Wi-Fi7 standard is not only faster and capable of being an adequate and very-much-needed extension of the fiber network, but it has also been designed with improved reliability in mind. Therefore, combining Wi-Fi7 with fiber optics is an excellent match. 

A multifamily building is the equivalent of many individual family dwellings. “It’s like providing Internet to a small neighborhood,” Dor says.

Pavlov Media recommends that clients should consider investing in the biggest data “pipe” possible to a building right from the start. The point of getting as much data capacity as possible isn’t just for today, but to “future-proof” the building against greater demand over time, Dor notes. “While Cable or even DSL might work with all applications for now, we believe that these are a ‘stopgap’ for a few years,” Dor says. After that, property owners will need the speed of fiber Internet for multifamily buildings.

An additional aspect to consider is the infrastructure within the building. Often, fiber Internet is deployed up to a building or even to every floor and from there the apartments are Ethernet connected. Ethernet can support speeds of 5 and even 10 Gigabits per second. “The closer we bring fiber Internet to the residents, the better,” Dor says. “If you can get fiber Internet into the units themselves, that’s even better.”

Considering all the above-mentioned future requirements, professional help in network planning and implementation is critical, with an understanding that better decisions today will mean longer periods with happier residents and greater property values before having to perform additional upgrades. Now is the best time to look at what needs to happen for the future of your networking technology and the user experience of your residents.

— This article was written in conjunction with Pavlov Media, a content partner of REBusinessOnline. For more information on Pavlov Media, click here.

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