Archive for the ‘wifi’ Category

The Answer Is Here! Solving Your Property’s Cellular Coverage Issues

April 12, 2013
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Ericsson reported in 2012 that from the third quarter of 2009 to the fourth quarter of 2011, mobile data transmission increased by 600 percent. Projections by Cisco seem to indicate that the trend will continue, especially as more video is delivered over the internet.

Indoor cellular coverage is becoming increasingly more important- literally by the day. The Pew Research Center reports that smartphone ownership has increased dramatically over the course of 2011-2012, from 35% to 46% of US adults, totaling a 31% increase in less than one year. Add to this the research conducted by Ericsson reported in 2012, showing a 600% increase in mobile data transmissions between the third quarter of 2009 and fourth quarter of 2011 alone, and it becomes undeniably evident that we are knee deep in the wireless revolution. In fact, 80% of multifamily residents now use their mobile phones as their primary phone, as the land line slowly recedes into the night of technologies past. The disappearance of the corded phone is being solidified by new business models introduced by money hungry cell phone companies; these giants are privy to the fact that data usage far outweighs voice communications, and have incented consumers to do away with land lines, by offering unlimited talk time, while adding (not-so-unlimited) data usage fees.

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The Pew Research Center reports that smartphone ownership increased from 35 percent of U.S. adults in 2011 to more than 46 percent of U.S. adults in 2012, a 31 percent increase in less than one year.

All of these changes, quite rapid changes mind you, are creating unintended consequences for many multifamily building owners and residents alike. As the building industry shifts focus towards energy conservation and more sustainable building practices it has become evident that many of the new building materials are particular resistant to cellular service penetration. As you can imagine, this is posing a huge problem for building owners and residents, especially as people become increasingly reliant on wireless technologies. If residents don’t have cellular service inside their homes, how will they make calls to friends and family? More importantly, how will they call 911?? These questions are not to be ignored.

Over 20 times a week someone from the multifamily industry is contacting Spot On Networks for suggestions on how to deal with this difficult, time-consuming, and potentially very costly issue. At Spot On Networks we have dedicated an enormous amount of time to helping building owners combat their cellular dilemmas, and are happy to say, we have just the solution for you.

The right answer can vary from property to property, dependent on the exact circumstances, budget, and level of convenience necessary for residents. The first solution is the DAS System. DAS stands for Distributed Antenna System, and can be quite costly to implement, coupled with extensive installation. Spot On has configured a solution to not only eliminate poor cellular coverage, but to offset the cost of installing an extravagant DAS System: CellBOOST. CellBOOST typically costs about 1/5 of a DAS System, AND provides property wide WiFi.  CellBOOST boosts cellular signal within a building by strategically placing a number of bidirectional amplifiers within the building, and a donor antennae on the roof which receives the cellular service from outdoors. CellBOOST is non-carrier specific, and is Passpoint 2.0 ready for the up and coming technologies.

The second possible solution would be to use existing WiFi applications. If WiFi is available at a property, residents can use mobile VoIP applications, such as Skype as an alternative phone service to make all of their calls, including calls to emergency services- however the location of said caller is not as visible as otherwise. For texting, there is an app called WhatsApp, which enables texts to be sent via Wi-Fi.

Lastly, the lonely Femtocell. The Femtocell is a small, low-power cellular base station designed for in home use. Although each carrier dubs the device something different, all versions are similar operationally: Plug in an internet cable, and use cell service from a single carrier (hence the “lonely”) in an individual apartment (for a fee, of course).

All of these solutions have their own pros and cons, however, when we take a look at the future, it becomes clear that the more effective solution for the long term would be along the lines of CellBOOST. Within a few months, the WiFi Alliance and the Wireless Broadband Alliance will release a compatible set of protocols and procedures that make WiFi networks complementary to cell carrier networks. ImageThe service, called Hotspot 2.0, uses the WiFi Alliance’s Passpoint 2.0 certification procedure for product certification to promote secure, seamless roaming between cell services and WiFi networks. (Read more here.) The first Hotspot 2.0 solution is expected to be introduced during 2013. Some access points are already Passpoint 2.0 certified, such as those deployed by Spot On Networks, used in CellBOOST. It is imperative to take a look at your property’s cellular coverage issues with an eye on the future- the DAS System will not hold up to the Hotspot 2.0, and neither will Femtocell. With all of these solutions available, cellular coverage issues within a building are soon to be a thing of the past (much like the beloved land line…), however, the important thing is choosing the right solution for your needs, and one that will stand the test of time.

No Noise Is Good Noise

December 26, 2012

As internet usage and the increasing demand for immediacy expand, Internet Service Providers are quickly learning that unresolved glitches and errors in network functionality are creating much ‘noise’ on the social media front, ultimately translating into a bad rap- for property managers and providers alike.

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In an article written by David Daugherty for Broadband Communities magazine’s October 2012 Issue, he explains, “Noise is an indicator of how well a service provider performs day to day. If residents make noise in the front office about poor internet performance, rest assured they are voicing their discontent socially.”  This is especially a concern in the student housing sector, as students so widely rely on the internet and social media for many daily activities, such as schoolwork and entertainment. At student housing properties, this noise does not go long unheard, as social media sites are an optimal vehicle for the residents to ‘echo’ any issues they might be experiencing. Philip Emer, director of technology for Preiss Properties, states that in some cases, it has even proven helpful to use said social media thread to help diagnose and address certain problems networks may be experiencing. It is no secret that any problems with service not rapidly addressed, have a surprisingly efficient way of presenting themselves to not only fellow residents, but also property management, regional and corporate offices, and the service providers. In the long run, inadequate customer service definitely has the potential to create a poor reputation for all parties involved.

Luckily, there is a solution. It has taken some time, trial, and error, but the industry is now realizing that many former business models are in need of a total revamp, such as self-help and troubleshooting interfaces. It is important that any network used at a multi-unit facility, especially student housing, is fully managed and monitored to assure a seamless user experience. Subscribers are eagerly seeking swift, tech-savvy, easily attainable customer support representatives, and more service-oriented assistance, less reliant on the outdated do-it-yourself model. Daugherty says simply, “key stakeholders must understand that maintaining customer expectations is a never-ending task”.

The Rise and Fall of the Rental Regime

October 11, 2012

The moon waxes and wanes, tides ebb and flow, and we all know that what goes up, will eventually come down; so it came as no surprise when the rental market started “showing signs of losing steam”, according to a recent report from Reis Inc.

Image Courtesy of Wall Street Journal

     In an article from the Wall Street Journal on October 3, 2012, Dawn Wotapka outlines some interesting statistics regarding the recent slump in the rental sector, possibly due to tenants feelings more inclined to purchase real estate while the rates are so low.

What does this mean for the multihousing industry? Well, seeing as research firm Zelman & Associates estimates roughly 235,000 units to be new construction this year alone, it might mean a few things for a property owner.
Not only will rental prices likely decrease over the years to come in order to obtain and more importantly, maintain occupancy; but property owners will have to do their fair share to make renting more attractive than owning. The good news here is that rental properties already have a head start– one word: amenities. Services such as Wi-Fi, when included with a rental property, automatically make a bare home look exactly that, bare. It is essential that owners do all they can to outfit their rental properties with all desired amenities, and adding a fully managed and monitored wireless network to any property is certainly going to increase the rentability, while also leaving property managers and owners available to fully focus on advertising their amenities advantage, and filling their buildings.

Active Connected Devices: Infiltrating the population in full force

September 21, 2012

Whether you are wireless with the masses, or still weighted by a wired ball and chain, chances are you are the proud owner of (on average in the US) 5 active connected devices. Wait what? 5? Active connected devices? Back it up.
Yes. As unbelievable as that is, it is accurate, at least according to some pretty interesting statistics recently released by Chetan Sharma Consulting. For those of you not familiar with the term, an Active Connected Device is any device actively used to connect directly to the internet; examples of these include but are not limited to: desktop computers, televisions, gaming consoles, phones, media players, even cars.

Personally, I was shocked when I first read the staggering statistics. Their study states that Globally there are approximately 10 Billion connected devices, a humble 70% of those devices being qualified as mobile, be it phone, laptop, tablet, or other untethered device. Although the survey does not provide us with a statistic on what percentage of the 10 Billion global devices the United States is responsible for, it does offer us a multitude of other interesting information.

In the United States alone, 80% of the actively connected devices are mobile; tablets and ereaders comprising 13%, smartphones coming in at an estimated 18%, and computers taking the lead at 22%. In another study that Chetan Sharma Consulting released, they estimated that the mobile data market has grown substantially over the last year, composing 42% of the US mobile industry revenues for 2012, estimated to reach an astronomical $80 billion this year alone! It’s no wonder the wi-fi market is full steam ahead.

The one statistic that truly surprised me was how many devices different age groups owned. I was sincerely shocked to learn that the unsuspecting 65+ bracket held the torch for highest percentage of more than 15 connected devices, coming in somewhere around 12%.

This study just goes to show the advances society is making under the influence of wi-fi, especially as it is becoming so readily available. The proof is in the pudding. If it’s not wireless, why bother?

 

http://www.chetansharma.com/USmarketupdateQ22012.htm

http://www.chetansharma.com/connectedconsumer.htm

 

Verizon, Google and the Net Neutrality Debate

August 17, 2010
Image: socialsignal.com

Hot on the tech news circuit last week was the Net Neutrality debate which is heating up as more companies begin to take sides.  If you are not familiar with what has been happening in the world of Net Neutrality, here’s a quick synopsis:

About a week ago, Google and Verizon, proposed an agreement that would seal the deal on Net Neutrality (keeping the Internet open), but it had one [not so] small catch.  In the agreement, wireless, mobile broadband would receive an exemption from Internet openness.  This has begun to spark massive debate over what would happen if this “proposal” were actually presented as a piece of legislation (this would need congressional and FCC approval and is not simply a business deal).  You can read the official agreement here. Concern has been label by some as “cable-ization” of the Internet – content that used to be all fair game and evenly accessible would be able to be pushed ahead, eliminated altogether,”premier” Internet content could be made available to those who paid more for their mobile service and certain users might receive “prioritized” content.

Anyone who has read an ounce of technology news in the last year understands that this is a very big deal.  With Smartphones making up for over 20% of the cellular industry and Wi-Fi networks appearing almost everywhere, it is safe to say that the future will be a wireless world.  I find it almost comical that wired Internet openness is protected in proposal…what a perfect distraction from what is really going on here!  Who cares so much about wired Internet when the whole world is becoming mobile?

Companies have begun to choose sides.  For example AT&T, which would obviously benefit from having more control over the content that is delivered and sold to it’s subscribers call the proposal, according to the New York Times, “a reasonable framework”.  On the flip side, companies that were born out of Internet openness like those of Facebook, were coming out not in support of the proposal.

Today the debate pot was stirred again as House Democrats “slammed” the proposal, according to PCWorld, in fact the proposal prompted Reps, Edward Markey, Anna Eshoo, Mike Doyle, and Jay Inslee to write a letter to the FCC chairman urging him to act on broadband regulation.  The letter referred to Internet doomsday prophesy such as, “closing the open Internet”, “inconsistent principals”, and creating demographics where users who need content the most would not be able to obtain it.

According to PCWorld, Richard Whitt, Washington telecom and media counsel for Google defended the proposal, stating, “No other company is working as tirelessly for an open Internet”.  That being said, the writing on the wall is very real and does present a future in which the, Internet-as-we-know-it, may suffer greatly.

For more on The Net Neutrality Debate, check out these articles:

NYT

PCWorld

Fiercebroadbandwireless.com

AT&T adds Chicago to Wi-Fi Roster

August 9, 2010

Chicago was AT&T’s third addition to it’s city Wi-Fi hotspot project.  In an effort to offload data from 3G to Wi-Fi, AT&T has recently deployed Wi-Fi networks in Charlotte, N.C. and Times Square, N.Y.  AT&T “Hotzones” are for the use of AT&T subscribers only and are free of charge.  After more than a year of reporting on the problems that 3G is going to face keeping up with the onslaught of high data usage devices, AT&T is answering subscribers call with the city “Hotzones” and Wi-Fi service in commercial businesses such as McDonalds and Starbucks.

This addition to Wi-Fi Hotzones comes on the tail of AT&T recent quarterly Wi-Fi usage report that 121.2 million Wi-Fi connections have been made at AT&T Hotzones in the first half of the year.  AT&T has labeled Wi-Fi as a “must-have amenity”.

Obama works to add broadband spectrum for commercial use

June 28, 2010

According to the New York Times, President Obama will sign, today, a memorandum that will allow for 500 megahertz of broadband spectrum to be auctioned off.  The majority of spectrum will be available for commercial use – this addition spectrum will almost double what is currently available and is a necessary addition given the prediction of expected mobile device usage in the coming years.

Some of the plan, which will allow for the freeing up of spectrum which is owned by both the government and private companies, will need to be approved by Congress.  The plan comes in the wake of a March recommendation by the FCC in its “National Broadband Plan”.

Read the NYT article

AT&T & Apple face lawsuits over data cap on iPad

June 28, 2010

iPad consumers are angered over AT&T’s new rate plans and the impact that they will have on iPad users.  AT&T’s new plans, which went into effect on June 7th, coordinating with the release of iPhone 4, no longer offer unlimited data.  For the new plan details, click here.   AT&T advertised that iPad users would have the ability to easily be able to opt in or out of unlimited data plans.  While, AT&T is allowing iPad users to keep unlimited data for now, if they skip a month, they will no longer be able go back to having unlimited data.

AT&T’s announcement of their new plans came very quickly after the release release of the 3G enabled iPad (which had previously only been available with Wi-Fi capability).  Consumers feel as though they have been tricked into either waiting to purchase the 3G iPad or trading in/ upgrading their Wi-Fi only iPad to the 3G version – only to find out that there are now data caps on the plans.  One customer was quoted on fiercebroadbandwireless.com as saying:

I originally purchased a standard iPad. Three weeks later, I returned it to the Apple store, paying an additional $130 plus sales tax to upgrade to an iPad with 3G capability. I thought the iPad 3G was worth the additional money because, with the unlimited data plan, I could work outside my office or home and access all the data I needed for a fixed, monthly price,” commented plaintiff Adam Weisblatt in a release distributed by law firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein. “But I also knew that for several months each year, with my schedule, a lesser expensive, limited data plan was sufficient. I would have never purchased a 3G-capable iPad if I knew Apple and AT&T were planning on suddenly taking away from me the freedom to opt in and out of an unlimited data plan at my choice.

The cellular companies have long been scrutinized for sucking consumers into long term contracts with large cancellation penalties, making new offers available only to those willing to sign more contracts and charging huge overage and equipment charges.  It seems, however, that the data plan caps have sent consumers over the edge.  The lawsuit being filed claims that AT&T and Apple used a “bait and switch” tactic that tricked consumers into purchasing the 3G capable iPad.  iPad users frustration is understandable, especially since both AT&T and Apple advertised the 3G enabled iPad as having a easy to use unlimited data option for so long and then switched the plan so soon after the 3G iPad release.

We will keep you posted on this situation as it unfolds!

AT&T femtocell service is included in new data usage limits

June 23, 2010

This is just mind boggling to me:

We wrote about the AT&T femtocell awhile back.  AT&T’s femtocell, the “Microcell”, is a mini-tower that can allow up to 10 AT&T phones to get 3G signal (four at once) – the devices covers 5000 sq. ft.   The femtocell comes at a one-time cost of $150 dollars and for $20/ month you can recieve unlimited calling over the femtocell.  Some were assuming that usage over the femtocell would not be included in the newly imposed data usage caps that have begun by AT&T and other cell carriers.  However, that is not the case.  Data usage over the femtocell WILL count against data caps.

In a DSL article, AT&T spokesman, Seth Bloom, speaks to AT&T preference of Wi-Fi for offloading data:

3G MicroCell is primarily intended to enhance the voice call quality experience in your home. While it can carry mobile data traffic, that’s not the primary solution it provides. WiFi is the optimal solution for home mobile data use. We encourage people to take advantage of Wi-Fi capabilities – that’s why all of our smartphones include WiFi radios, and usage on WiFi doesn’t count against your mobile data usage bucket.

Wait.  Stop right there.  Let’s go back to how this all works.  The Microcell (AT&T’s femtocell) routes both calling and data over the same broadband connection that is used by Wi-Fi, so why would the user be charged not only for minutes usage but for data usage as well when the data is utilizing the customers already-paid-for broadband connection?  AT&T’s justification here makes absolutely no sense and is upsetting alot of people, which I am surprised that AT&T is willing to do after all of the frustration subscribers have experienced over the 3G network and the added anger that came with the announcements of Microcell pricing.
DSL reports on how “AT&T tries, fails to justify 3G cap-eating Microcell”.  We agree with DSL that most people would probably elect to use their Wi-Fi connection when in the home over using the Microcell, however, that really is not the point.  Quite simply, AT&T is squeezing every possible dollar out of the consumer and this is just to get service to be satisfactory.  And, as it is with the Microcell, you are routing calls over the broadband service that you are already paying for.  So, in addition to being charged for the equipment ($150) and being charged a $20 “unlimited” calling fee (which does not include data) you are in essence being re-charged for your broadband (in some instances by a company which does not even supply your broadband service).  It really is ludicrious when you think about it.  We also must remember that the Microcell is a piece of hardware that benefits the cell carrier – you are doing them a favor by having it.  DSL said it well:
Consider these are users shelling out for a home broadband connection, a wireless 3G and data connection, possibly an added landline connection, the upfront cost of hardware, and an additional $20 if they want unlimited voice that doesn’t eat away at their minutes. Just how much are we expecting the average consumer to pay per month for simple, regular-use voice and data connectivity?Either AT&T’s gunning to make an additional few million annually in revenue off of those incapable of differentiating between 3G and Wi-Fi, or they’re incapable of getting the Wi-Fi/3G femtocell billing straightened out and don’t want to admit it.

Read more about data caps over the Microcell from fiercebroadbandwireless.com.

Starbucks to offer Free Wi-Fi at all locations

June 16, 2010
Image Courtesy: Starbucks.com

Beginning on July 1st, Starbucks will be offering Wi-Fi as a free amenity at all Starbucks owned stores (this does not include affilate stores – like the one you would find in Target, for example).

Currently, Starbucks offers Wi-Fi in their stores, however you must register your Starbucks card, create a user name and password and then you can receive 2 consecutive hours of complimentary Wi-Fi from AT&T.  Read more about the changes that Starbucks is making to their Wi-Fi business model, including access to news content such as Zagats and The Wall Street Journal.

Complimentary Wi-Fi access is now more important than ever.  With the major cellular companies no longer offering unlimited data on their service plans, offloading data is essential to a user’s connectivity and will become even more-so, as data usage will only go up in the future.  Not to mention- some applications for devices, such as the iPad, are designed ONLY for operation over Wi-Fi, as designers have found 3G to slow and unreliable.

These changes show that Starbucks “gets it” on a few levels.  Consumers are begining to expect Wi-Fi service as a free amenity.  Wi-Fi is kind of like the “rebel service” – it gives us the power to remain connected, while forgoing the phone company, the cable company, etc.  Starbucks must have come to realize that if I can’t sit in a Starbucks and access free Wi-Fi in a simple, non-intrusive manner, then I can always scoot over to McDonalds, use their Free Wi-Fi, and grab a coffee there (their coffee is surprisingly good).

It’s not only the “free” that people expect – but they don’t want to have to register a card, provide their personal information and have a restriction on their usage.  So, for a company that thrives on customers not only coming in for coffee, but coming in, sitting down and having that “home-away-from-home” experience, Wi-Fi as a free amenity is a necessity, at this point.

Spot On Networks has long understood the importance of Wi-Fi as an amenity to restaurants, hotels, apartment buildings and condo complexes.  Spot On Networks has contracted with residential property developers throughout the United States to provide managed High-Speed Wireless Internet Access in residential multi-family dwelling complexes, hotels, restaurants, etc.  This makes us the largest provider of high speed Wi-Fi internet to the United States multi-family housing market.  Need information about deploying a custom Wi-Fi network at your property?  Click here.