Can Your Building’s Network Infrastructure Keep up With a Wireless World?
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Can Your Building’s Network Infrastructure Keep up With a Wireless World?

03/26/20

A 2020 survey of residential renters revealed that 44% won’t lease an apartment without reliable cell reception. When surveyed in 2017, they ranked high speed internet as the second most important feature of a property – just below air conditioning.

If they won’t put up with poor connectivity at home, why would they settle for it at work?

And while they want to be connected, they don’t want to be tied down. 86% of Americans now use mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, with 32% of those users reporting that they go online “almost constantly.” Among 18-29 year olds, 58% mainly access the internet through their smartphone.?

As these so-called “digital natives” take over the workforce, new, data-intensive applications like augmented and virtual reality are also poised to change the way we work.?

The next generations of wireless connectivity, 5G and Wi-Fi 6, will open up the pipeline to more data travelling at faster speeds, demanding more from in-building networks. But most 5G will also have a harder time penetrating walls, which could lead to weaker signal and poor service inside your building.

The Two Cs of Connectivity in Your Building

Coverage

If you own or operate a commercial building, it’s important to make sure your network ensures adequate voice, data and public safety service across the entire facility. Everyone inside relies on access to wireless services to conduct their business, but building materials such as low-e glass can significantly block these signals. Even with a strong signal, overloaded cell towers can keep you from connecting.

While poor connectivity has a big impact on customer experience and employee productivity, it can have serious consequences during an emergency. 51% of 911 calls occur on a cell phone inside a building. If someone called for help in your building, are you sure it would connect??

First responders also need adequate radio and cellular signal to communicate, especially in difficult areas like basements and stairwells. In fact, 65% of first responders reported experiencing a communications failure inside a building. Any of these failures can cause a delay in response; according to the FCC, a one-minute improvement in response time could save 10,000 lives per year in the U.S.

Control Over Mission-Critical Functions

Mission-critical networks are unique in that they require secure and reliable connectivity. While traditional Wi-Fi networks have been deployed widely across enterprise networks and have significant security capabilities, they are inherently less stable because the technology shares spectrum with other users – which can affect uptime and endanger compliance with uptime guarantees. Additionally, even though enterprise Wi-Fi solutions have robust security, they are only as secure as their weakest link: human error. A poorly configured access point can create a point of entry for a hacker. Internet of Things (IoT) networks can be even more challenging, because of the lack of integrated security solutions.?

As more mission-critical business functions and facility operations get “smart”, building operators should be proactive about implementing secure and stable wireless networks.

Four Ways to Get Your Wireless Network Future-Ready

In the conceptual office building below, each floor shows a potential solution for delivering reliable wireless signal.?
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Click here to download the full-size rendering.


If You Need To Increase Signal Coverage

DAS: A system of cabling that transports signal from a signal source to low-power antennas throughout a facility. Certain types of DAS can scale to cover large areas and multiple buildings.

Small Cell: A small low-power base station that can be used as a signal source on a DAS, or combined with other small cells and a controller to create a wireless network. Each carrier will require its own small cell.

Signal Booster: A system that amplifies available outside cellular or public safety signal and distributes it inside a facility. They are a cost-effective choice for small to medium buildings.

If You Need To Take Control of Your Network

Private Wireless Networks: One way to obtain control over your connectivity is to install a Private LTE network using CBRS spectrum. Essentially, you can create your own secure and stable voice and data network for your facility without having to work with the carriers. ?

What Do You Need?

We know wireless networks are complex, and many building managers only find out about gaps from word-of-mouth complaints about “dead zones”, slow data speeds or devices that won’t connect.?

Your building would likely benefit from one or more of the above solutions. Do customers complain about spots where calls with a particular carrier always drop? Are occupants relying on the wireless network to handle critical functions or sensitive information? Do you know whether or not first responders can communicate in your building when they come to help you in an emergency?

Graybar can conduct a comprehensive assessment of your facility, and connect you to a network of experts to make a building-wide plan that will prepare your network for the future.?

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