There is a lot of debate over what type of network design is better if you want to provide internet access as an amenity to the residents of a multifamily building. There are many different manufacturers and systems to choose from but it ultimately boils down to two schools of thought. You either have a Building-Wide WiFi Network, or you create a PAN or Personal Access Network for each room.
The first option that many curious property owners investigate is the concept of a Building-Wide Wifi Network. In theory, this sounds great! Your resident can connect wirelessly to the network and then walk about the property while remaining always connected. Easy. But not so fast. WiFi signals are a fickle bunch, and it doesn’t take much to degrade them to a point where they are barely useable. Many designs have a single access point servicing multiple units, which adds an entirely new set of limitations due to the sheer number of devices connected that can result in what the resident sees as slow internet speeds. You can help to improve the experience by installing an Access Point in ever unit, but now you are incurring higher installation costs, and the resident still doesn’t have the option to plug their device directly into the network if they would rather have a faster wired connection. A good rule of thumb for wireless connectivity is that it is typically 30-50% slower than a wired connection. So now you need to run an additional cable to each room and you need another port on the switch, all of which cost money.
Sounds like a lot of variables. If you are going to make the investment with the goal of enhancing the resident experience, you want to make sure you are getting a design that is both functional yet easy to manage, because the last thing you want to hear at 1am is some kid complaining that his Xbox won’t connect to the wifi. Fortunately, there is a better solution!
Now keeping the goals of functionality, ease of management, and not adding more to your list of daily headaches top of mind, the smart property owner begins to explore the concept of a PAN in each unit. While not as flashy as the on paper promises of a building-wide wifi network, this design does offer many advantages where they actually matter. In this scenario, a cable is run and a Wireless Gateway is placed in each unit. The Gateway produces a personal wireless network that residents can connect to, but also provides available ethernet ports for them to plug into if they so desired. Because each unit has their own personal network, you do not need to worry about what metal appliances, concrete blocks, or soundproofing in the walls could degrade the signal in other units.
This set up is one that is commonly employed in a residential setting, and the reason why is because simply put, it just works. Your residents get to enjoy both fast & personal wifi and the option of a wired connection, while you get the peace of mind that you are providing a desirable amenity that won’t keep you up at night.
At the end of the day however, the choice is yours, and the experts at SCI are happy to guide you through the decision.