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What is Managed WiFi for Apartment Buildings?

You want to turn your apartment community into a technology haven. You’re one of the…

You want to turn your apartment community into a technology haven. You’re one of the industry leaders planning to install in-demand amenities like smart locks, plugs, and sensors. After all, it’s the most powerful property management strategy to attract and retain new tenants. But there’s still one high-tech perk climbing the charts of most valued amenities: managed WiFi. 

What is managed WiFi? 

To learn about managed WiFi, let’s start with the network style you’re most familiar with: unmanaged WiFi. Each unit is responsible for its own broadband network. Residents shop for their own choice of provider, sign individual contracts, and procure their own equipment. They can only access their WiFi network within the square footage of their apartment: the signal does not follow them to public spaces like clubhouses or fitness centers. 

Managed WiFi is a service offered by internet providers like Cox, Gigamonster, and Telus. This network works more like the internet service you sign onto in a hotel or college campus, but each resident receives their own individual, highly secure “slice” of the larger network. 

Instead of taking a day off of work to wait for a cable guy upon move-in, their WiFi network is instantly available. They can access their signal from anywhere in the complex. They’re free to work by the poolside and print to a wireless printer from a lounge chair. They can also toggle the temperature on their smart thermostat from their parking spot. 

Setting up a high-power, building-wide WiFi network requires more than plugging in a few extra routers. So multifamily operators contract with managed WiFi providers to take on the responsibility for not only selecting the right equipment but providing ongoing support so things always run smoothly. A third-party team handles software and hardware upgrades, scaling bandwidth to meet demand, and solving connectivity and dead spot issues. This makes managed WiFi a cost-saving, time-saving—and resident-pleasing!—add-on for your community. 

Types of managed WiFi services

Why is it so important to add managed WiFi to your portfolio of tenant-attracting amenities? From the newest generation of consoles to smart thermostats, 127 new devices connect to the internet every second. 

Soon, every day will be like home for the holidays where every cousin and uncle signs their own tablet, phone, and smartwatch onto Grandma’s WiFi, weakening the signal with each new device. Broadband networks are about to become a more complex puzzle that a patchwork of individually managed solutions cannot sustain. Here are the three service tiers you may encounter when researching managed WiFi solutions.

  • Hardware-only: Many providers serve expert guidance for selecting the right hardware—the routers, controllers, switches, etc.—that makes up your network infrastructure. They’ll handle the installation, but the arrangement ends there. 
  • Software-only: Tech services offer apps and other tools so you can monitor network performance, add users, and troubleshoot connectivity issues. Manning this software can fall on an external team, or solely on you and your management team. 
  • Fully managed WiFi: A fully managed WiFi service includes all of the above, but an outsourced team of experts takes on 24/7 monitoring and troubleshooting your network. Just like a facilities manager ensures your utilities are always up, this team focuses on the technical heavy-lifting of creating and running a highly reliable, always-on WiFi network. 

Managed WiFi unyokes residents from their apartment units. With so many working from home, a simple change of scenery throughout the day does wonders for their sanity. They’re free to enjoy public areas while toting their ultra-reliable WiFi network along with them. Plus, with an outsourced team of experts by your side, you can offer this amenity without adding to your already overloaded to-do list. 

Is managed WiFi secure? 

Some property management teams express security concerns when it comes to a managed WiFi network. 

When tenants are responsible for their own network, they often bring outdated equipment from previous living arrangements. Luddites are left responsible for their own security settings, making it easy for cybercriminals to crack in. A centralized WiFi network managed by a squadron of internet security experts is far more secure than one set up individually. 

How can managed WiFi benefit your multifamily community? 

Boost tenant retention and satisfaction

As a society, our love for the internet is unwavering: it’s why pre covid era in 2017 one-third of renters ranked a strong WiFi signal as the most important driver of their apartment satisfaction

The same study found that 9 out of 10 prospective renters ask about internet accessibility during a tour, proving that managed WiFi is a very desirable amenity when it comes to closing new leases. The pandemic has shown that internet access and connectivity are more than just a premium amenity, it’s an important amenity one that’s on par with water and electricity.

…and property values

High-speed internet for all is more than an attractive marketing tactic—of 189,000 property owners and managers surveyed, 30% believe fast, reliable, and secure WiFi boosts property values by at least 20%.

Improve the livelihood of your tenants

Slow things are one of the most soul-grating human experiences. Waiting on hold for hours, waiting in a line far too long, or getting stuck behind a sidewalk dawdler can send us spiraling. 

So it’s no surprise that “slow internet” ranks #1 on one researcher’s list of the top 20 most annoying tech problems. Also in the top 10? WiFi that keeps disconnecting and sluggish download speeds. When the internet is now the phone line, the stereo, and the television, serving up a reliable, lightning-fast, and always-on signal is the key to delighting the hearts of your tenants. 

Prepare for the explosive growth of digital devices clamoring for internet signal

Tech magnate Huawei predicts data usage will increase 30-fold by 2025. Each person will own five or more smart devices, while one-fifth will own 10 or more. IoT-enabled devices like smart locks and sensors, virtual reality headsets, and even homecare robots will contribute to the climb. 

This cornucopia of digital devices will continue to battle for WiFi connectivity, slowing today’s most advanced wireless networks to a sluggish speed. Gain a competitive edge by offering services like managed WiFi that face these frustrations head-on.

We all have our internet vices—doomscrolling Twitter, finding endless garden inspiration on Pinterest—and when we lose internet connection, it can make our blood boil. Now, post-pandemic, 62% of Americans are working remotely in a hybrid capacity, putting a greater strain on individual WiFi networks. It’s why managed WiFi is now one of the most in-demand amenities amongst younger renters. 

Nearly 70% of new developments are building out managed WiFi networks, making it a must-have for your multifamily community to compete for the next generation of renters.

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