In multifamily settings, where many devices are being connected to a network in one area, keeping connected technologies connected is a complex endeavor.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is transformational, bringing new innovations and possibilities to a wide variety of industries. While IoT is an umbrella term that covers a wide array of technologies, one of its most popular and mainstream uses is in the form of smart home technologies, – everything from intelligent thermostats and refrigerators to video monitors and security systems. Everyday household items are getting “smart” by being connected to the Internet, creating new ways to control, monitor and interact with them in our daily lives.
Smart home technologies have become increasingly popular in recent years. While one study identifi ed 2020 as the year when the smart home would go mainstream, a recent survey from Coldwell Banker published in January 2016 found that 45 percent of all Americans own or plan to invest in smart-home technology this year. The survey also found that 36 percent of those respondents do not see themselves as “early adopters” of the technology, which implies that they learned about it through peers that had already invested.
But, with any technological advancement comes new challenges – and in the case of connected devices, the challenge is obvious: connectivity. Connected devices are powerful tools that have a tremendous potential and can positively impact lives in many ways, but only if they work. Each new device that must be connected to a home network creates additional strain on that network. The same is true, and can even be compounded, in multifamily settings, where many devices are being connected to a network in one area.
As with any Internet-based technology, reliability, availability and speed matter. A website that is slow to load or an app that constantly freezes will ultimately lose users, and the same is true with smart devices. In fact, given the importance many smart devices have in the home, it is even more imperative that they stay connected and available. An Internet outage that previously might have just affected a homeowner’s ability to surf the web may now shut off his or her thermostat, security system and garage door. That’s not a pretty picture.
Value for Multidwelling Units
It has been shown through research that high-speed Internet is one of the most desirable amenities for multifamily residents. A recent study commissioned by Broadband Communities magazine found that high-speed connectivity has surpassed washing machines and dishwashers as one of the top amenities for multifamily-unit owners, and ranked second behind in-unit washer/dryer for renters, which illustrates its appeal across demographic groups.
This is a trend that appears to be moving in one direction. The demand for high-speed connectivity has increased with the number of services requiring it. Smart home is yet another modern miracle that is rising in popularity, but will put increased strain on Internet networks. This presents a unique challenge to multifamily property owners, as they will likely be supporting many discreet networks that are hosting many connected devices on their property.
While there is a surge in demand for high-speed Internet to support smart home and streaming technologies, multifamily property owners have no need for fear. Network infrastructure providers have made massive advancements in technology, including gigabit speeds, fiber-to-the-building and fiber-to-the-unit deployments, and protocol advancements that are bringing the necessary network capacity to serve modern technology. The necessary infrastructure is there, and if multifamily property owners are proactive, they can stay ahead of the curve, keep residents happy, and even attract new ones.
As practical advice, property managers need to ensure the network infrastructure providers they work with can offer Internet and Wi-Fi services that have the capacity to scale up to gigabit speeds. In 2016, that may seem like overkill as far as bandwidth is concerned, but as smart home gains momentum, that level of speed will quickly become a necessity. More importantly, if one does not plan for that now, it will be more costly to implement in the future.
Multifamily residents have a lot to be excited about in terms of new technology that will change the way they interact with their home, and smart property managers are already laying the groundwork to help them.
By investing in high-speed Internet, property managers can ensure that residents will never be left behind by the ever-expanding range of smart-home technologies.
MICHAEL SLOVIN is the vice president of XFINITY Communities, Comcast’s business unit focused on bringing XFINITY services to the multifamily industry. In this role, he is responsible for national sales, sales operations and developing programs that improve the community and resident experience. For more information about XFINITY Communities, visit xfinity.com/xfinitycommunities.