Challenges vs. Opportunities
There are challenges to implementing in-building wireless solutions but the hurdles are well worth the benefits.
First, questions about the total cost of ownership, who pays for the system and upgrades, and how much they should pay raise many eyebrows around board of directors’ tables. Then, there’s the physical location of the building and whether it’s in cellular tower range or has been constructed with materials that allow radio frequency transmission. And, of course, a lack of uniform city, state, and federal regulations about how commercial buildings should be protected from natural or man-made disasters bring a host of other problems.
But, as Viable has discovered and is continuing to study, the benefits of rolling out an in-business wireless strategy could outweigh the risks, or at least make the challenges more bearable.
Some of the most obvious rewards include:
- STRONG FINANCIAL RETURNS. While the installation of wireless capabilities comes with a price tag ranging between 40 cents to $2 per square foot depending on the system’s complexity, the return on investment stands to be substantial. Initial estimates suggest a 5x to 10x ROI, falling somewhere between $5 and $26 per square foot.
- LESS DROPPED CALLS AND MOBILE DEVICE INTERRUPTIONS. A decade ago, a majority of mobile calls placed on cellular networks originated or terminated from vehicles. Now, the majority of calls come from office buildings. Improved in-building wireless networks provide seamless car-to-office coverage and keep the mobile workforce rolling.
- HAPPIER TENANTS MEANS HAPPIER PROPERTY OWNERS. WiFi and cellular/data services are some of the most popular building amenities requested by tenants, according to Black’s Guide, which follows real estate trends. Logic holds, then, if building owners make this service available, they may be able to carve out more favorable lease terms and longer rental contracts.
- IMPROVED PUBLIC SAFETY OPERATIONS. The faster first responders can assess an emergency situation, the faster lives can be saved. Having a reliable and comprehensive communication system makes it easier for public safety officials to quickly assign safety resources and follow through with evacuation efforts.
- REDUCED ENERGY COSTS AND BETTER MONITORING FUNCTIONS. With energy costs accounting for about 38% of building expenses, knowing how to best light, heat, or cool a property could yield significant savings. For example, sensors could link to wireless networks and automatically determine if heating, cooling, or lighting systems should be adjusted. The same concept can be applied to other monitoring systems, and information can be bundled into one feed, which ultimately reduces overall IT costs.
- ENHANCED MULTI-DEVICE COMMUNICATION CAPABILITIES. With in-building wireless technology, users can access cell phones, pagers, PDAs, two-way radios, or anything else that can run on an IP network.