Building owners are increasingly reliant on new connectivity services for luxury residential buildings to attract the modern millennial renter. Whether for working at home or for leisure, tenants want smart technology solutions that automate and ease their daily routines. This leaves the hospitality and multifamily sectors to emerge as early adopters of smart living technology as a way to justify their price points to young renters seeking apartments within a city. These amenities have evolved from modern roof-top lounges, dog washing stations, and package lockers to robotic butlers and other digital amenities necessary to improve the “resident/tenant experience” – all of which need robust wireless coverage to operate.
Currently, wireless connectivity provided by 4G LTE is considered a necessity for everyday functions, becoming a “fourth utility” in many homes, but the introduction of more advanced amenities requires speed, low latency, and a secure network provided by 5G and Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS).
Powering luxury amenities
After years of discussion about what 5G will bring for businesses and consumers, it is finally becoming a reality. 5G is designed to support three main connected services: massive IoT applications such as connected cars, smart cities, and the required sensors; enhanced mobile broadband applications such as live video streaming, gaming, and other streaming use cases; and ultra-reliable low-latency communications, including industrial IoT appliances and autonomous machines.
As such, 5G’s low latency (1 millisecond or less) and fast speeds will power luxury amenities ranging from access control using facial recognition, real-time visibility security monitoring, intelligent mobile application concierges to autonomous underground parking garages that parks and retrieves cars on call. Building owners will now be able to use CBRS networks to really tap into the possibilities that data analytics brings to their buildings – their properties will get ‘smarter’ by the day.
CBRS will also have a role in providing building owners and staff a private wireless network where they have control over the data generated within their buildings from the internet of things (IoT) devices. CBRS is an LTE cellular band that can be lightly licensed, or shared amongst enterprises or the public, to create a private network with the help of in-building connectivity devices, such as distributed antenna systems (DAS). CBRS is a private network in the sense that it does not use any mobile carrier frequency bands to deliver connectivity. Tenants will automatically access this network from their mobile phones when they arrive in the proximity of the building or parking garage, and building owners can brand the network with the name of the building at the top left corner of mobile devices where the wireless carrier name typically resides. This adds a new level of convenience, safety and marketability that was previously unavailable for building owners and tenants.
Fostering the tenant experience
People rely on mobile apps to control many aspects of daily life, from food delivery to ridesharing. Now, luxury buildings are gravitating more towards this trend to deliver more streamlined resident-centric experiences.
Tenant portal apps can give residents control over air conditioning, the blinds, lighting levels, and other comfort-related changes that are often connected by smart devices. For example, Crescent Heights, a leading urban real estate firm, specializing in the development, ownership, and operation of mixed-use high-rises in major cities across the United States, focuses on the resident experience with various use cases powered by LTE. Specifically, in some of their buildings, they have set up resident’s phones to act as their credentials for entering the building, common areas, and even their front door. Residents can also view how many people are in a common area, such as the gym or rooftop, to avoid going during busy times.
Technologies targeted at individual comfort are also very useful for building management staff. Property managers are also embracing apps to make it easier for tenants to request services and for property professionals to deliver them. A few buttons can speed up tenant tasks such as requesting maintenance services, paying rent, and communicating with the property management team.
Additionally, CBRS can connect first responders and building owners with tenants during emergencies. In the case of a fire, active shooting, or other event, mass notifications can be sent to tenants directing them to the nearest exit. If anyone were to be remaining in the building after an evacuation, 5G will eventually be useful for helping triangulate where a resident is within a building with Z-axis vertical indoor wireless 911 calls.
Implementing smart building connectivity
Retrofitting smart living technologies into an existing building doesn’t have to break the bank. Building owners can build an indoor network for both 5G and CBRS solutions to power their occupant-facing tech affordably using a distributed antenna system (DAS) and repeaters throughout the building. By picking the right DAS and systems integrator, building owners can address dead zones within the building and maintain their network with 24/7 technical support.
5G and CBRS are going to create a wave of new digital amenities and services that will allow luxury buildings to provide exceptional services that justify their heightened costs against their competitors.