In this article, we’ll explore the rapidly evolving landscape of Managed Wi-Fi in Multi-Dwelling Units (MDUs), guided by insights from industry experts. These insights were collected during a recent Maravedis event featuring thought leaders from various sectors. Read on to understand how Managed Wi-Fi is transforming the resident experience and offering new opportunities for property developers and managers.
Key Drivers of Managed Wi-Fi Adoption
Several factors are driving the demand for Managed Wi-Fi in MDUs:
- New Construction Boom: Nearly a million multi-family buildings are under construction as of 2022.
- Generational Shift: Millennials, who are tech-savvy, make up a large portion of renters.
- Device Proliferation: Each resident owns an average of 20 devices requiring Wi-Fi.
- Smart Home Adoption: The rise of smart home applications increases the demand for reliable networks.
- Institutional Investment: Large corporate property owners are more likely to adopt new technologies.
- Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) Model: The subscription-based model is gaining acceptance.
The Evolution of Technology in MDUs: A Historical Perspective
Bryan Rader, President of MDU for Pavlov Media, traced the technological evolution in MDUs from the 1980s to today. He emphasized that while technology has advanced, the core objectives—such as enhancing resident experience and convenience—have remained constant.
The Developer’s Viewpoint: AvalonBay’s Real-World Experience
Kaylon Ross, Senior Director of Ancillary Service at AvalonBay, revealed that Managed Wi-Fi has become a standard feature in all AvalonBay projects. He stressed the need for robust infrastructure and collaboration with service providers. AvalonBay also clarified the specific features and benefits that come with “managed” Wi-Fi services. From a financial standpoint, Kaylon noted that the implementation of Managed Wi-Fi can be flexible, either as a capital expenditure (CAPEX) or an operating expense (OPEX).
Policy Implications: The U.S. BEAD Program
Kevin Donnelly, Vice President at the National Multifamily Housing Council, highlighted the U.S. BEAD program as a catalyst for improving the quality of life in MDUs. This program, part of President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law, provides funding for Managed Wi-Fi services, particularly targeting lower-income MDUs where the Return on Investment (ROI) is often not justifiable.
Industry Insights and Best Practices
Bryan Rader, Pavlov Media
Pavlov Media focuses on the evolution of multifamily tech and how Managed Wi-Fi meets modern objectives like improving the resident experience, increasing convenience and differentiating properties from competitors. In the last five years, they’ve identified three major shifts impacting multifamily tech: the explosion of high-end amenities, changing resident behavior towards cord-cutting and streaming, and the advent of smart home features and IoT devices. Managed Wi-Fi has emerged as the ideal solution that adapts to these changes, offering a seamless, safe, and symmetrical internet experience for residents.
Shayne Rose, Cloud5 Communications
Cloud5 Communications focuses on four key requirements for Managed Wi-Fi in MDUs: property-wide coverage, reliability and redundancy, speed, and customer support. They emphasize that Managed Wi-Fi should be designed by RF experts to meet the evolving requirements of modern devices. Cloud5 has a vast network, covering over 5,000 properties across North America, and they stress the importance of choosing an experienced and well-vetted partner for implementing Managed Wi-Fi.
Todd Thorpe, Dojo Networks
Dojo Networks outlines key ingredients for successful partnerships between property owners and Managed Wi-Fi providers. They emphasize the importance of assessing the current situation, making the right partner selection, and formalizing the partnership. Design considerations include wiring, contracts, and FCC rules. They recommend a site survey for existing properties to assess the condition of the wiring and suggest Ethernet over fiber for reliability. Dojo Networks also recommends installing UPS battery backups and redundant circuits for system reliability.
Managed Wi-Fi is no longer just a trend but a necessity in modern MDUs. It offers manifold benefits from improving resident experience to enabling smart home features. As the industry evolves, collaboration between property owners and Managed Wi-Fi providers will be crucial. Stay tuned for more insights and updates on this topic.
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