It is no secret that large buildings are hostile to radio-based wireless communications because the concrete, thick glass, and steel infrastructure used to construct them block and degrade wireless signals. At the same time, wireless is becoming more critical to enterprises.
The traditional solution for providing in-building wireless is to install multiple discrete systems for each application, which has proven to be cumbersome and expensive for building owners and property managers. Each system must be individually maintained, and eventually, managing the multiple systems - which are often deployed by several different vendors - becomes extremely complicated. In addition, the systems can interfere with one another, impeding the service that each system was installed to provide.
A wireless utility eliminates problems associated with discrete systems. A wireless utility enables building owners and tenants to use a variety of wireless applications and devices, including cell phones, PDAs, wireless building controls, and two-way radios for property maintenance and security staff on one unified infrastructure.
Compare a wireless utility to your electrical or heating/air-conditioning systems. First, it is a common infrastructure, shared by all the tenants in the building. Second, it is carefully engineered to provide uniform coverage throughout the building space. Finally, like an electrical system, you expect that you can “plug” any standard device into it and it will work. As the need for wireless continues to grow, tenants will expect a 21st-century building to have a wireless utility, just as tenants have expected air-conditioning for years.
Using a strategic, broadband wireless platform, such a solution will support current and future wireless devices and applications on a unified system. In fact, a wireless utility already facilitates the wireless needs in several prominent buildings, including New York City’s new 2.8-million-square-foot, mixed-use Time Warner Center.
A wireless utility can be a significant differentiator among properties not only because it enhances a building’s value, but also because it can attract the attention of prospective tenants and entice current tenants to renew or extend leases. In addition, by supporting the two-way radios used by first responders and security personnel, a building with a wireless utility can be a safer facility because it can prevent loss of communication among first responders in the event of emergencies.
As the proliferation of wireless applications continues, and as tenants seek additional amenities, it is important that building owners be strategic in selecting a system that will best meet everyone’s needs. Technology will further advance and new applications will become standard. A wireless utility that is future-ready and can support current technologies and services, as well as those that will be developed in the years to come, will provide more long-term value because of its versatility and capacity to support new applications without delay, disruptive upgrades, or costly retrofits. Providing uniform wireless coverage is a vital step in creating true 21st-century facilities.
Ed Cantwell is an InnerWireless founder and serves as its president, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board. Cantwell has more than 10 years of experience in the technology industry, leading both large and venture-backed companies. InnerWireless (www.innerwireless.com) is based in Richardson, TX.