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Attracting And Retaining Tenants Means Getting In-Building Wireless Up To Speed


Imagine moving into a sleek building, complete with pristine decor, stunning views and a vast amount of rooftop green space, only to discover that the cellphone signal is spotty and the internet doesn’t work properly. 

Commercial real estate building owners understand that tenants who run into this predicament are likely to leave for one of their competitors with more reliable in-building cellular infrastructure in place. To attract and retain tenants, building owners must ensure their cellular connectivity meets today’s expectations, said Jeff Reale, director of enterprise solutions at Intenna Systems, a provider of building-wide wireless solutions.

“Right now, high-quality cellular service is a major factor that impacts customer satisfaction, and is key to attracting and retaining tenants,” Reale said, “There is this expectation that it’s not really a luxury anymore, it’s a common amenity. It should be factored into the rent cost the way it is for amenities that already exist within the building.”

He noted that while in-building wireless is an invisible amenity, it becomes very noticeable when it prevents tenants from doing their jobs or everyday tasks. Additionally, he said, on average a network can last between eight and 10 years, so adopting a solution that provides seamless coverage throughout the building would be a worthwhile investment.

For 25 years, Reale said, Intenna Systems has been targeting in-building solutions and helping clients create, set up, operate and maintain an in-building network.

“We know the right infrastructure to install the network properly so that building owners don’t run into performance impacts down the road,” he said. “We also know how to evolve the network to meet the changes, from 4G to what will eventually be 6G and beyond, as well as the applications that increase the value proposition of what this wireless network can do̶.”

He added that a common obstacle to in-building wireless is the perceived cost of installation, but building owners need to consider all the facts before jumping to conclusions about the price tag.

To create a strong indoor network, he said, building owners must take into account a building’s coverage and capacity — or bandwidth — as well as whether or not the building is new construction. 

“With new construction, you’re taking these costs into account at the beginning of the process, so it’s a bit easier to get the funding in place,” he said. “We recommend obtaining a simple design budget and cost estimate from a qualified engineering firm that specializes in these networks. Then you can incorporate the costs into the capital construction budget and overall construction plan.”

While in-building makes up less than 2% of the price of capital construction, if funding is an obstacle for owners of newer buildings, he said, they may be able to spread out their payments throughout the phases of construction within the budget year. 

“For example, you can pay 25-50% of the cost in Phase 1, and then handle the rest of the cost for the other buildings in subsequent phases within the budget year,” he said. "Construction can last multiple years, which gives business owners the opportunity to build in the cost of construction to subsequent yearly budgets in advance."

Construction on existing buildings, however, can be a bit trickier, as owners may be looking to cut down on expenses.

“Owners of existing buildings may not want to spend annual operating expense dollars or a big capital expenditure after the fact because they just want to manage the building efficiently,” Reale said. “However, in the past, tenants were able to put a stipulation in their long-term leases that the building needed to provide a distributed antenna system —  or DAS — which may give them some leverage here.”

Reale said in these cases, building owners and tenants can work together to figure out how to divide the in-building wireless cost. Alternatively, owners can cover the cost of the installation and charge the tenants a certain percentage after the fact.

Because mobile network operators  —  or cellular carriers —  may not have the capability to fund or oversee DAS solutions, he said, building owners should take the initiative to ensure the building has the funding necessary to set up a strong cellular connection to keep tenants happy for the long term.

“It's incumbent upon the building owners and the corporations to take control of their own wireless destiny and to manage, maintain and deploy their own networks, which they can do by working with a company like Intenna Systems,” he said. 

Owners looking to install and manage in-building wireless solutions should consider partnering with a company that is experienced in providing these services to help with everything from funding to maintenance, he added.

“Establishing the right partnership with the right company can help you navigate any questions related to technology, budget and network management as well as the application ecosystem and the Internet of Things,” Reale said. “All of these factors come into play when you’re making that initial investment to provide value to your tenants for the next eight to 10 years.”

This article was produced in collaboration between Studio B and Intenna Systems. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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