During these unprecedented times, multifamily building owners are realizing that in-building wireless is as essential as running water.

Here is a throwback: Spot On Networks ad, circa 2009. Two (heavy) laptops, facing each other and the caption reads: “Amenity, Meet Necessity.” It was difficult convincing anyone at that time that WiFi was a necessity for apartment buildings. At best, WiFi was considered a nice to have amenity in higher end buildings so residents could use their laptop by the pool. Oh, how times have changed! With the pandemic bringing connectivity and broadband access to the forefront of, well, everything, WiFi has taken center stage as an essential utility that building owners must provide to their residents. WiFi, though, needs to be done right if the experience is to be “carrier-grade” and that means incorporating some type of network management.

While Managed WiFi can be basic or extremely complex, it does require that there be some form of remote maintenance, a level of support and typically a reporting function on network health. When the average person thinks of WiFi, they typically think of their home router or free internet at the coffee shop. Those types of “hotspot” WiFi networks are inherently insecure, create lots of interference, require multiple attempts at authentication and offer unreliable connectivity. WiFi with proper network management can be used to turn multifamily buildings into hubs of secure and reliable seamless connectivity.

Spot On Networks Managed WiFi is the anthesis of “hotspot” WiFi. We deploy complex Managed WiFi networks that use one backend physical infrastructure to deploy multiple VLANs and private home networks allowing for seamless roaming everywhere on the property. This means that residents have both high-speed internet access and voice calling coverage everywhere on the property they go – whether in their apartment, at the pool or in the garage. Spot On’s Managed WiFi ensures per device SLAs, so that end users always have the dedicated bandwidth they need for streaming. Voice traffic is also segmented and prioritized to ensure for uninterrupted and clear calls.

A recent article in Broadband Communities Magazine: “Managed Wi-Fi Shows New Utility for Providers, Vendors”, discussed just how important network management is when it comes to WiFi deployments as a utility. Spot On CEO, Dick Sherwin was featured in the BBC article discussing the importance of seamless roaming throughout a building and is quoted as saying: “We look at managed Wi-Fi as having community-wide Wi-Fi service, which has coordinated access point locations, channels, signal strength and frequency”. Sherwin then went on to discuss Spot On Networks managed WiFi network architecture patent, Tessellated Grid design which “ensures connectivity for voice traffic throughout an entire building”. Sherwin is quoted again, describing the Tessellated Grid architecture: “If you look at a building as a three-dimensional checkerboard, we ensure we have coverage throughout the building by putting access points in any location, regardless of whether the resident subscribes or doesn’t”.

Internet is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what managed WiFi can do. We already mentioned seamless in-building voice connectivity, but it is important to note that 5G and WiFi6 are being built to coexist with each other. By adopting a managed WiFi strategy in their buildings, building owners are essentially extending those 5G benefits into their buildings. WiFi6 will offer the same upgrades as 5G: more devices, faster connections and lower latency – just built for inside. Dick Sherwin also discussed the convergence of WiFi6 and 5G in the BBC article stating: “The Wireless Broadband Alliance has banded together with the Next Generation Mobile Networks Alliance to cause a convergence in which WiFi6 is going to be the indoor wireless capability, and 5G is an outdoor wireless service… we’ll have 1.6 GHz available in every building to achieve average data speeds that are significantly faster than 5G”.

In addition to data and voice, Managed WiFi allows building owners to securely incorporate IoT that makes their apartments more desirable to residents, improves building operations and reduces operational expense. Today’s resident is looking for keyless entry, wireless appliances and high-tech amenity areas – these amenities can be offered securely and reliably over managed WiFi. Building owners are looking to save money on HVAC, lighting and security. Again, all are possible and successful when the backend WiFi networks is properly managed.

While we may have been a little early to the game with our ad, there is no question that building owners need to adopt a managed WiFi strategy. In order to remain competitive, building owners must provide their residents with that very basic utility that has proven to be so important these days: Connectivity.