Company’s solution creates opportunities for commercial real estate owners to generate significant revenue
In-building wireless has often been referred to as the Fourth Utility — something building owners are responsible for providing their tenants and guests with — but in the waning months of 2019, there’s still a wide variety of financial models that challenge the decision-making process when solving for wireless service indoors.
Airwavz Solutions has taken an innovative approach to solve the demand for wireless services inside commercial office buildings. The company is now rapidly developing a direct path for building owners to generate significant revenue to offset the cost of deploying and operating a wireless system.
After Airwavz announced it was licensing clean wireless spectrum from Globalstar earlier this year, the company initiated a pair of commercial trials in Dallas, TX and Charlotte, NC. These trials were designed to demonstrate 5G services, private LTE, connectivity for Internet of Things and Machine to Machine (IoT/M2M), providing multiple services (network slicing) and, most importantly, creating cost reductions and opportunities for commercial real estate owners to generate revenue.
“The Airwavz smart building technology stacking plan encompasses critical core fiber and in-building wireless infrastructure as the first two network layers,” Airwavz Founder and President Mark Horinko said. “From here building owners can add carriers and hundreds of open source applications designed for IoT and M2M communication, not to mention 4G and 5G services for their thousands of daily tenants and guests. It all adds up to enormous monetization opportunities. Airwavz brings the core network and manages the whole ecosystem.”
The growing demand for excellent wireless performance indoors is well known — 80 percent of wireless usage occurs inside, cellular data consumption is doubling every 24 months, outdoor towers and small cells can’t get enough signal indoors to meet tenant demand, and BYOD (bring your own device) tenants are not installing desktop phone service at all — they are going mobile.
Tenant rep brokers are ensuring proper coverage exists before leases are signed, and corporate tenants, particularly those with a significant number of millennial workers, are demanding in-building wireless to increase employee productivity and satisfaction. Throw in more flexible co-working spaces and the fact that third-party assessment services like WiredScore are encouraging landlords to certify their buildings, it all adds up to the office of the future being reliant upon on a ubiquitous, wirelessly connected, 5G work environment.
Ultimately it will take billions of dollars to construct in-building wireless systems in the largest office buildings in America alone, and given their limited resources, wireless carriers are diverting capital to large-scale outdoor 5G buildouts as opposed to systems for commercial building owners.
“The wireless carriers are hyper-focused on building their own 5G networks outdoors,” Horinko said. “So if building owners want to provide 5G to their tenants, they are going to have to take control and find a partner that understands the 5G migration path and an economical way to get there. To do anything with 5G inside your building, you’re going to need an in-building wireless system with a fiber backbone.”
Airwavz Solutions has helped support CRE owners by providing in-building wireless solutions through cost-effective managed service models since 2013. The fully managed wireless service model aligns cost with building size so the building owner’s expense conforms with how they operate their property. Through this model, the company ensures building owners control the airwaves within their building while Airwavz leverages its relationships with all of the major wireless carriers to create an opportunity for carriers to contribute to the system — potentially lowering the building owner’s costs.
“‘The Airwavz smart building technology stacking plan encompasses critical core fiber and in-building wireless infrastructure as the first two network layers,’ Airwavz Founder and President Mark Horinko said.”
Building owners want to create value in their investment, and Airwavz believes delivering in-building 5G-ready wireless services is a critical part of that value creation. Intuitively, and perhaps even quantifiably, an in-building wireless system should improve the future valuation based upon improving building marketability, tenant retention and user experience.
There is, however, an underlying challenge for building owners — as the number of wireless nodes, devices on desks, wearables and thousands of other devices inside smart buildings multiplies, wireless signals are suffering. External cellular signals and Wi-Fi networks are struggling to keep up with increased demand, and they are woefully unprepared to deliver 5G indoors. CBRS is on the doorstep, but it won’t have all the answers.
An in-building wireless system has an enormous advantage over Wi-Fi in terms of performance, security and seamless access to public or private cellular networks, providing dozens of antenna nodes running throughout an office floor. That proximity will make 5G services the dominant signal providers in offices for decades.
Though new bands of spectrum, such as CBRS, have been repurposed for 4G and soon to be 5G use, they may not be the cure-all. “CBRS has some promising uses for in-building solutions. Building owners could use the spectrum to offer in-building Private LTE networks,” Horinko said. “These signals could provide faster speeds for office occupants and also connect smart devices and sensors throughout the building, while giving landlords more ‘control’ of their wireless networks. They can gain visibility into the performance of their in-building networks without being beholden to a national service provider. Revenue growth and cost-saving opportunities should be quite prevalent. However, while CBRS is a part of the solution, it can’t bring us all the way to 5G.”
This is why Airwavz recently partnered with Globalstar to secure the rights to its newly repurposed Band 53 spectrum, which permits Airwavz to lease this clean, proprietary and licensed spectrum for private in-building wireless services.
“An in-building wireless system has an enormous advantage over Wi-Fi in terms of performance, security and seamless access to public or private cellular networks, providing dozens of antenna nodes running throughout an office floor.”
“It’s like driving and having an eight-lane superhighway all to yourself — fast and secure — while everyone else deals with frustrating wireless gridlock and security threats on the other roads,” Horinko said.
Airwavz is currently concluding their trials of this new private-LTE solution in commercial office buildings in Dallas, TX and Charlotte, NC where they deployed and evaluated in-building wireless network performance. The company examined factors such as the ease of deploying the network, installation turn up speed, total cost per building, equipment and ecosystem, indoor signal quality/propagation/coverage/strength and network throughput/latency relative to public LTE and Wi-Fi.
“We expected all of the technical performance standards to pass with flying colors, but it’s the building owner use cases that we were most interested in,” said Horinko. “We wanted to see how streaming video, remote video monitoring, facial recognition, asset tracking, OTT voice/Skype calling and building HVAC and machinery monitoring and control react in this environment. We were most interested in seeing how IoT and M2M connectivity worked in our trials and are pleased with the results so far.”
With a focus on business models supporting everyone including the largest commercial real estate ownership groups, management companies, technology providers, Fortune 500 enterprise customers and the range of existing and emerging wireless carriers, Airwavz seems well-poised to capitalize on their unique position.
“It’s a wireless world today and for as far as we can see down the road. This evolution will only be amplified more as building owners seek ways to gather actionable data on their occupants, provide new services and ensure the tens of thousands of wireless devices and sensors inside their buildings are connected to a functioning network,” Horinko said. “We’re here to make it all happen.”