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How Can Building Owners Find the Right Funding For In-Building Wireless?


Commercial developers of hospitals, high-rise residential and other large commercial structures have begun to recognize that a strong in-building cellular connection is an absolute necessity. Additionally, owners are increasingly aware that the quality of a wireless signal has a direct correlation to their rental and occupancy rates.

As a result, distributed antenna systems are becoming the fourth utility required in commercial real estate. Connection and communication are now considered as important as water, gas and electricity. Despite this reality, some building owners still neglect to design and plan for a DAS as part of their initial capital budgeting.

Christopher Lange, CEO of Intenna Systems, which specializes in creating in-building wireless solutions, said that building owners should not avoid the task of providing tenants and guests with a strong, reliable cellular connection. Instead, they should look into the different types of financing available that can help fund the cost of these systems.

In a conversation with Bisnow, Lange talked about these different types of financing and how enhanced cellular connections can accommodate post-pandemic needs.

Bisnow: What are the challenges commercial building owners may face when it comes to financing in-building wireless?

Lange: The biggest problem is that the technology for in-building wireless is not yet completely mainstream, so it’s not always implemented into the design plans of a new facility, and owners forget to budget for it.

When this happens, building owners are stuck with the challenge of financing these systems without access to capital. 

Left with only the operational budget to work with, building owners would need to finance in-building wireless using a payment structure. That way, they can tap the operational budget over a number of years, which can vary depending on the building owner’s needs.

Bisnow: What are some of the different payment structures that buildings could use to finance a DAS?

Lange: They can go with a few different options. A capital expenditure option, or capex, for instance, allows them to use multiple capital budgets spanning payments out over a couple of years in order to acquire the system now and retain ownership once the system is fully funded. 

They can also use an operating expenditure structure, in which monthly payments can be made to cover the cost of implementation over an agreed-upon term. This option may take a few years, but once the payments have been completed, the building will have the option to purchase the DAS based on residual value.

Some accounting structures require the system be financed as a service, which would constitute a subscription-based structure that can be created to pay monthly for the system as a service. However, the building will not gain ownership of the system and will have to eventually renew the service or return the equipment.

Bisnow: How do you predict wireless solutions will change post-pandemic?

Lange: As people are returning to the office, they’re adopting a more hybrid workstyle. This is highly dependent on wireless technology, allowing people to work from the coffee shop in the lobby, from comfortable couches in the lounge or from a communal desk. If people are working from different places, their dependency on wireless will be much higher. Seamless wireless coverage in commercial buildings is rarely accomplished, but this is where DAS comes in. It brings wireless cellular networks to the interior of the building, guaranteeing seamless wireless coverage throughout the structure.

When finding the right financing option for the DAS, the ability to fund in-building cellular networks can be simple. Intenna Systems designs, builds and maintains some of the most complex in-building wireless solutions available in the enterprise and service provider segments of the industry. 

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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