Strategic Wi-Fi implementation can deliver on all fronts or fail to meet the ever-changing needs of today's multifamily communities if not done right.
Wi-Fi access is a requirement for today’s renters, and multifamily operators have an obligation to supply or facilitate reliable wireless service for their communities. During the Apartmentalize 2023 session, “Ask the Experts: Managed Wi-Fi, Bulk Wi-Fi and Connectivity Infrastructure,” presenters will dive into the different options available to operators in a not one-size-fits-all environment.
Moderated by SmartRent Executive Vice President Mitch Karren, and a panel featuring Quarterra Director of Community Technology Justin Foster; Venterra Realty Director of Ancillary Services Josh Delzell; and Carroll Senior Vice President of Operations and Business Development Rob Gayle, the session will explore the nuances of Wi-Fi selection and deployment.
Panelists will stress that Wi-Fi decisions should center on creating the best possible resident experience. Residents want connectivity in their homes from the moment they move-in, not a week or two down the road when the cable company has availability to set it up.
“We're shifting as an industry because residents are now connecting all kinds of devices to their Wi-Fi,” says Gayle. “They’re connecting everything from their Roomba to their TVs, to their speakers, to their thermostats, to whatever. They want those things set up on day one and have a same connectivity and speed throughout the community not just in their unit.”
But different Wi-Fi solutions — bulk, managed or retail — include varying set-up processes and renter benefits.
● Retail Wi-Fi enables residents to individually select and change providers and service levels, though the price point is typically higher and requires a modem and cable connection in each home, as well as separate service and hardware for common areas.
● Bulk Wi-Fi provides internet service for each apartment home, typically at an optimal price due to economy of scale, though it removes provider choice from residents. Each home is equipped with a modem and cable connection, as are common areas and offices.
● Managed Wi-Fi is similar to bulk but provides a more robust experience for residents, staff and guests. Residents can maneuver throughout the entire community on the same network without any downtime. The property staff can have their own dedicated network for mobile maintenance and prospects can use the network for enhanced self-guided tours.
The session will urge operators to consider their capital commitments and anticipated returns alongside the service level they plan to provide to residents. Residents, as well as onsite teams, have an increasing dependency on Wi-Fi for their daily work/life needs, making reliable Wi-Fi an essential amenity.
“Residents want seamless access the minute they move in and to stay connected everywhere onsite, from their home to the fitness center and in the elevator to the parking garage.” Karren says. “As operators shift to pods and centralized models for leasing and maintenance, reliable internet becomes even more critical. Wi-Fi went from a nice-to-have just for residents to a must-have for residents, staff, prospects and vendors.”
Panelists will review key community requirements, demographics, value-add potential and market factors that should be factored into decision-making.
While Wi-Fi infrastructure installation during development is relatively simple, retrofitting existing communities to managed service is more complicated. Panelists will break down the importance of the due diligence process during retrofits, as well as the longevity and adaptability of the chosen system. They will walk through the analysis of existing internet provider contracts and their potential influence on Wi-Fi decisions.
When it comes to Wi-Fi service, low cost and connection speed are the two must-haves for residents and the most compelling selling points for prospects. Ultimately, operators must select the option that best meets resident demand while also creating a strong network to support onsite teams and smart building technology.
“Ask the Experts: Managed Wi-Fi, Bulk Wi-Fi and Connectivity Infrastructure” is scheduled for 12:15 p.m., Wednesday, June 7 at Apartmentalize in Atlanta.
Doug Pike is Content Specialist with LinnellTaylor Marketing.