A conversation with Boingo Wireless about 5G, Wi-Fi 6, IoT, and the quickly evolving wireless landscape.
Despite 2020 challenges, technology has served as the unsung hero, making it possible for multifamily residents to stay connected with family, co-workers, and friends.
As tech demands and expectations continue to rise, how can property owners and managers prepare for 2021 and beyond?
BD+C asked multifamily experts from Boingo Wireless to look into their digital crystal balls and assess the dynamic digital landscape. During our virtual conversation, we discussed the evolving tech infrastructure, how to optimize connectivity for residents, and common myths.
Here are excerpts from that discussion.
BD+C: 2020 has been quite the year, hasn’t it? We’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about infrastructure improvements such as 5G, Wi-Fi 6, and Wi-Fi 6E. Before you fire up your Ouija boards and make some predictions for next year, can you explain the advantages of each?
Herb Sharpe, Vice President of Multifamily Business Development: I’m partial to Tarot cards, myself, but I won’t need them to answer this question. 5G is the fifth-generation tech standard for cellular networks. The major cell phone carriers are building out their 5G networks to support faster, more reliable connections on new mobile devices.
Wi-Fi 6 is the next generation of Wi-Fi technology, which offers higher performance for more concurrent devices than previous generations. And Wi-Fi 6E is an extension of that technology that operates in a newly available 6 GHz frequency band. It’s like an expressway for future devices to minimize congestion and maximize speed. Sounds like sorcery, but I promise you it’s just great technology.
BD+C: Because 5G is faster and more reliable than 4G/LTE, will Wi-Fi networks still be necessary in multifamily communities?
Melissa Morales, Vice President of Multifamily Operations: Absolutely. Mythbuster alert: 5G and Wi-Fi are about convergence and coexistence, not competition.
5G will be incredible, but Wi-Fi remains the go-to wireless solution for the home. Property owners should focus on how they can extend the 5G experience residents are getting outside on their mobile device—around town, at work, at city attractions—and bring it inside. Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi 6 are great options for indoors and around the housing community. Wi-Fi 6 in particular is capable of connecting four times as many devices as previous generations of Wi-Fi technology and has improvements that make Wi-Fi calling more seamless.
BD+C: How can properties plan for the connected future with so much innovation coming in hot?
Sharpe: It’s all about ensuring the network you have today is scalable for the future. Wi-Fi and LTE are still workhorses, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ready your property for the 5G future. Work with a managed provider who understands the needs of the property today, while being an expert in 5G, Wi-Fi 6 and new shared spectrum solutions like CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Systems) so that you’re always ahead and delivering a great connected experience.
BD+C: With the increased use of smart thermostats, door locks, lighting, and other smart applications, will multifamily communities need to raise the bar on technology just to remain competitive?
Morales: Most definitely. Residents in the near future will expect an apartment community to offer the Internet of Things (IoT) as a basic amenity.
And this amenity functions better with a managed wireless network because IoT devices are assets that the property has to manage. All of the devices need connectivity—whether a unit is vacant or not—so an “always-on” managed network provides an effective infrastructure that can satisfy all connectivity needs.
BD+C: It’s 2021. How should multifamily owners and managers select a managed wireless network service provider?
Sharpe: They should partner with a company like Boingo that has the resources and expertise to deliver customized solutions for high-density housing environments. Our team connects millions of devices globally each year and Boingo offers best-in-class security, customer care, monitoring, access to real-time analytics and data, and a unique white glove consultant service.
Multifamily communities should also choose a provider that has its eyes on the future. We don’t need to rely on a crystal ball to predict that as technology advances and residents’ expectations continue to rise, owners and managers need a partner focused on delivering fast, reliable, seamless connectivity that powers the daily lives of their residents.