How connected is your building?

How connected is your building?

28 September 2018

Property HQ talks to wireless infrastructure consultant Jason Trimmer about wireless connectivity in commercial buildings.

Welcome Jason, could you tell us a bit about your background?

Sure. I’m U.K born and educated, and I’ve spent over 30 years working in wireless communications, across Defence, Aviation and Commercial radio networks. My speciality is addressing mobile wireless connectivity inside buildings, something that I’ve been working on for the past 18 years.  I’ve worked in the UK and Australia for companies such as Nokia Networks, RF Industries and more recently Heathrow Airport Limited as their Infrastructure Architect responsible for wireless connectivity.

If I’m a building manager, just how connected should my building be?

Very connected! To illustrate: 80 per cent of mobile connectivity ‘use’ is made indoors. That’s a whopping number. Whether people are using direct messaging, consuming video, or their phone at work, mostly they are doing it sitting down.

How does that relate to building connectivity?

Office software systems, such as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Resource Management) and the well-known SaaS Microsoft Office suite, have evolved and most are now hosted in the cloud, not on the building premises, and these systems are wirelessly accessed via tablets, smartphones, or laptops and that wireless connection better be fast! We all know that there is a direct correlation between time and money.

What sort of advances are we now seeing with mobile wireless connectivity?

When I started out in the commercial ‘in-building’ coverage telco industry, 2G was exciting with mobile voice and text. Then technology improved with a step towards GPRS data. Fast forward nearly 20 years, and we are now heading into the world of 5G.

5G networks promise gigabit mobile connectivity, ultra-reliable, and low latency communication that businesses, with workers who spend most of their day indoors, need to support their mission critical services.

How will this impact on modern office buildings?

Businesses expect and deserve reliable and available wireless connectivity, in all its forms. Just as a building needs electricity and water, it also needs wireless connectivity.

Which modern company would dare lease a tenancy that did not have Gigabit connectivity for its business? A modern company has a mission and to execute, it needs the best possible support systems, underpinned with mega fast, available and reliable connectivity. We’ve all heard the mantra ‘build it and they will come’. If it’s not built, they won’t.

When it comes to WiFi connectivity, how do most office buildings measure up?

In many office buildings, mobile wireless connectivity is not easily accessible or available as managers would like it to be. Modern enterprise supplied WiFi is constantly overstretched due to capacity and operates in an unlicensed band, competing with anything else nearby.

Whilst views, access, amenities and environmental are all important, some buildings are starting to empty out due to the lack of reliable, fast and available wireless connectivity.

For example, many high-rise office buildings do not have mobile indoor coverage (building or operator supplied) from all Mobile Network Operators, utilising a DAS (distributed antenna system). Moreover, the average approval and build time, if a DAS is proposed, is approximately 18 months. That timeframe is just too long.

I know of companies who are moving premises right now because their core business is cloud based and their current location cannot support the connectivity requirements in order for them to be a success.

What can managers do to meet their future connectivity needs?

To put future requirements into perspective: A wireless Virtual Reality headset with a good quality experience for the user will require up to a 1 Gigabit per second connection. And many industry verticals will be using VR in the future. But poor connectivity could stop the potential and future success dead in its tracks. Current WiFi technology will not support these required speeds.

Enterprises that don’t seize the opportunity to unlock IT value through wireless connectivity run the risk of being left behind.

My urgent advice is for building owners and managers to review their wireless connectivity strategy, if they do not have a strategy, then start and seek an SME to assist.

We look forward to expanding on that topic in the future. Thank you, Jason.