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Handling the Connectivity Challenge

As apartments double as workplaces and schoolrooms, multifamily operators must deliver fast, reliable connections that support residents’ evolving needs.

It’s a simple fact: One of the most important amenities a rental housing provider can offer its residents, prospects and onsite teams in the midst of the pandemic is fast, reliable internet access.

For many apartment communities, however, the increased attention and usage of internet for work and school from home responsibilities as well as the need to conduct digitally driven touchless leasing tours has exposed a plethora of connectivity challenges. Fortunately, upgrade options that generate ancillary revenue are available, but operators must choose wisely, according to the APTvirtual panelists during the session, “Solving the Connectivity Issue.”

“When the Greek philosopher Plato said that necessity was the mother of invention, he was not talking about self-guided tours or virtual tours,” said Shawn Mahoney, Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer and Chief Technology Officer of GID Investment Advisors. “Once COVID started and we couldn’t get people in the buildings, self-guided tours and virtual tours became the go-to for COVID-era leasing agents everywhere.”

But building Wi-Fi at apartment communities hasn’t caught up with the technologies necessary to make self-guided tours seamless or to provide a more seamless internet experience for residents working or schooling from home.

“The key to doing this is to have good connectivity in your building,” Mahoney said. “You need to have a pervasive, reliable, high-bandwidth network in your property, so when a prospect is walking through, they don’t lose the signal.”

This requires replacing legacy broadband offerings that allowed traditional providers to install infrastructure and charge residents one by one, with ubiquitous Wi-Fi that provides seamless service throughout the community for a fee the community charges to residents and access codes for prospects.

Addressing Challenges

Ubiquitous Wi-Fi solves many challenges apartment operators face today, including dead spots in building coverage, building inefficiencies from leasing and maintenance associate connectivity issues, lack of analytics on things like amenity usage, no connectivity to install smart-home technology and limited means to offer touchless tours.  

“From a smart-home perspective, so much of what’s happening in your building right now is requiring the ability to connect to a centralized network,” said panelist Joel McIntyre, CEO of GiGStreem. “That extends from cameras and HVAC systems and elevators all the way through managed services like thermostats, locks and leak sensors, all of which create massive operational savings for you as an owner but do require a solution for connectivity throughout the property.”

At the end of the day, ubiquitous Wi-Fi significantly enhances the living and working experience for residents and associates. It empowers apartment communities and associates to seamlessly conduct self-guided tours, more easily implement smart-home and smart-access solutions and better manage tasks electronically with constant connectivity. For residents, Wi-Fi is available via a secure vlan connection, whether they’re inside the apartment, walking their dog in the courtyard or getting in a workout in the fitness center.

“Residents love this,” Mahoney concluded. “They love to have high-speed internet. It’s very important to them.”

Peter Jakel is the Vice President of Strategy for LinnellTaylor Marketing.