In today’s mobile society, buildings are sometimes called the next great frontier in wireless. Consumers expect robust wireless service everywhere, yet the vast majority of the world’s commercial buildings do not offer dedicated cellular networks to meet this enormous demand.
In a world in which approximately 80 percent of wireless data traffic originates or terminates within a building, new global research focused on the professionals who design and manage buildings is shedding some light on this critical indoor wireless gap. For example, only about half (56%) of building managers, facilities managers, real estate managers and architects always consider mobile connectivity for a building’s tenants as a factor when working on projects.
The study, commissioned by global network infrastructure leader CommScope and carried out by Coleman Parkes, examined the current performance, attitudes and insights of building managers, facilities managers, real estate managers and architects regarding access to indoor wireless connectivity.
The findings revealed that about half (48%) of architects across the globe plan and design buildings with dedicated in-building cellular networks in mind. Providing access to cellular coverage inside buildings appears to be considerably less important to European architects than to their counterparts across the Atlantic, with less than a third (31%) always considering it for their projects compared to nearly two thirds (65%) in the US.
Despite an apparent lack of commitment to planning for in-building mobile connectivity, however, three quarters (73%) of respondents globally cited it as an ‘important’ or ‘very important’ factor. However, nearly half (47%) admitted having no control over the in-building cellular coverage in their buildings, but wishing they did.
In addition to ensuring a far better customer experience, provisioning indoor wireless networks as buildings are being constructed avoids significant disruption to tenants when systems are added after-the-fact, and saves considerable cost involved in building retro-fits, according to Dr. Ispran Kandasamy, global building solutions leader, CommScope.
“Mobile users expect uninterrupted voice service and super-fast wireless broadband wherever they are, indoor or out,” Kandasamy said. “As bring-your-own-device policies become increasingly prevalent in the workplace, the earlier you start planning for wireless in building design, the easier it is to deliver high quality, high bandwidth networks that give consumers what they demand. The ‘build it first; fix it later’ model doesn’t work anymore with indoor wireless.
“With 80 percent of wireless data traffic originating indoors—and only two percent of commercial buildings having dedicated in-building cellular systems—we are left with a major disconnect. Building owners and managers have to ensure that tenants are always connected in today’s increasingly mobile, data-intensive era and that buildings are future-proofed for tomorrow.”
The research also demonstrated differing opinions across industry sectors when assessing the importance of connecting people inside buildings. For example, 70 percent of respondents in retail, a sector that relies on mobile as part of a multi-channel commerce strategy, always consider indoor wireless as part of their building projects. Less consideration was given in sectors without as much reliance on mobile, such as banking and insurance (58%), and energy and utilities (50%).
“All the parties involved in operating buildings should see these survey results as validating the need for taking a greater leadership role in the provisioning of in-building wireless, in the same way that seamless wired/wireless LAN connectivity is taken for granted within buildings,” Kandasamy said. “Engaging network operators and their partners at an early stage is imperative for ensuring tenants and visitors get the superior wireless experience they demand.”
Buildings in Wireless: The Next Great Frontier
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Coleman Parkes interviewed 600 building managers, facilities managers, real estate managers and architects across the US and Europe, with 300 respondents in the US and 100 in each of UK, France and Germany. The interviews took place in August and September 2015.
CommScope (NASDAQ: COMM) helps companies around the world design, build and manage their wired and wireless networks. Our vast portfolio of network infrastructure includes some of the world’s most robust and innovative wireless and fibre optic solutions. Our talented and experienced global team is driven to help customers increase bandwidth; maximise existing capacity; improve network performance and availability; increase energy efficiency; and simplify technology migration. You will find our solutions in the largest buildings, venues and outdoor spaces; in data centres and buildings of all shapes, sizes and complexity; at wireless cell sites; in telecom central offices and cable headends; in FTTx deployments; and in airports, trains, and tunnels. Vital networks around the world run on CommScope solutions.
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