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How to Fix Bad Cell Phone Coverage for an Apartment Complex?

How to Fix Bad Cell Phone Coverage for an Apartment Complex?

How to Fix Bad Cell Phone Coverage for an Apartment Complex? Carrier Grade WiFi Calling for Apartment Buildings is Finally Here.

“Can You Hear Me Now?” “Can You Hear Me Now?” It’s happened to everyone. You’re locked in, completely engrossed in conversation. All of a sudden a little static begins on the line. Then a bit more and before you know it, you have missed every other word. Eventually the call drops completely… You look at your phone to find that you have no service, 0 bars.

Hopefully, it was just friendly banter and not something vitally important. God forbid that it was an important sales call or a hard-to-reach individual. We’ve all experienced bad cell coverage and while it’s a pain, hopefully it only happens once in a “blue moon”. We may expect it while driving through a rural landscape, but if it happens from home; it’s an entirely different frustration. If you’re an apartment owner with this scenario you can rest assured… your residents will quickly be finding a new place to live, costing you and your brand.

Let’s face it, not all apartments have good cell coverage. These days this can be a major problem for apartment owners. Bad cell coverage can drive occupancy, loyalty, satisfaction and retention down fast. Residents do not put up with bad coverage; many will post negative online reviews which could damage your online reputation. Some may try to change cell providers; however, they are not usually happy to do so.

WiFi Calling Replaces DAS – “Two Birds, One Stone”:

If you haven’t heard of DAS (Distributed Antenna System), consider yourself lucky. For those property owners who know what a DAS system is, you also know that it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. In a nutshell, DAS has been a last resort solution for buildings with bad cell phone coverage. It solves the problem but for a significant price. To add insult to injury, it is a one-trick-pony. That is to say you can’t do anything else with it that would benefit the property from a telecommunication perspective. Property-Wide WiFi on the other hand not only offers a cell coverage fix and can be used to offer other telecommunication services such as Wireless High Speed Internet and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) directly to the residents.

If Your Apartment Building Has Bad Cell Phone Coverage What Can You Do?

In the old days DAS, or cell boosters, were the go to fix, but they were expensive and offered very little intrinsic value. What if a cutting edge Fiber Backed Property Wide WiFi system could generate revenue for your property AND solve the properties bad cell phone coverage in one fell swoop? You would have effectively shifted the liability and expense that comes with a DAS system into an asset that is profit making machine.

This is now all possible thanks to the fact that all four major cell phone carriers now offer WiFi calling to their subscribers. Couple that with a niche focused Full Service Internet Provider (FSIP) and you would have a winning combination that was never available before.

What is WiFi Calling?

Simplistically, WiFi calling is when you place a call (voice or video) using the Internet verses using your carriers mobile network or traditional landlines. There are many flavors of WiFi calling and some have been around for years. WiFi calling is synonymous with “Voice Over Internet Protocol” (VOIP). Three general ways people use VOIP today are:

1) From a computer device: examples include Skype, Google hangouts and Facebook Messenger.

2) From a physical phone known as a VOIP SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) Phone: examples include Vonage, Ring Central or JIVE.

3) With a cell phone or soft-phone through their carrier: examples include AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon. Not all cell phones are WiFi capable. However, most of the newer models are.

 How to Use WiFi Calling?

While many VOIP services provide a way for someone to call using the Internet, which is often free, most fall short in providing easy-to-use, seamless functionality. WiFi calling from your cell carrier, on the other hand, can offer this simple, seamless experience straight from your resident’s cell phones. There are no monthly fees, hardware costs or software needs to use carrier grade WiFi Calling and in most cases, it won’t affect their data usage or cellular minutes.

Using WiFi calling through your mobile carrier is simple; all you need is a WiFi-capable phone (all 4 major carriers have a gamut of choices), a connection to the WiFi, and the WiFi calling feature turned on. Incidentally, turning the WiFi Calling on in most phones is a snap, simply navigate to your settings and find the WiFi calling feature, then click. Once you have that set up, dial any number as you normally would to connect your call. It’s seamless! The person on the receiving end will notice very little, if any, difference between a WiFi call and a carrier network call; so long as you have a quality WiFi connection. As a side bar, placing international calls may be less expensive then other forms of WiFi Calling, such as Skype or Google Hangouts.

The Virtual Triple Play

A Fiber Backed Property Wide WiFi solution can now fulfill on a triple play, i.e. Internet/WiFi, IPTV, and WiFi calling. A virtual triple play is usually wireless, mobile, robust, flexible, customizable and less expensive than traditional options. Essentially, with the proper internet infrastructure, offering services like IPTV and WiFi Calling are a breeze because the foundation is already there in the form of WiFi. A Property-Wide Fiber Backed WiFi infrastructure can offer the revenue capabilities of premier bulk Internet and IPTV, plus provides the platform for VOIP calling. Although a resident can use any VOIP service they wish, the WiFi calling from their carrier supported cell phone will certainly be the easiest and thus the most popular. At the end of the day your residents save substantially for all three telecommunications areas they utilize most, while making you more money. The virtual triple can achieve the ultimate goal of any multifamily investor, profits and Happy Residents.

Not All WiFi is Created Equal

Not all WiFi can handle the high usage demand of a virtual triple play. Put aside the fact that your residents demand reliable high speed Internet. IPTV and other forms of video streaming require a lot of bandwidth, preferably over a gigabit fiber capable network.

WiFi calling, on the other hand, requires low jitter and latency. The bandwidth thresholds can be as low as 1 Mbps. The kicker is not all WiFi access points can maintain low jitter, low latency and overall Quality of Service (QoS) while multiple WiFi calls are in progress. Installing a WiFi system that works is easier said than done but is necessary to provide the infrastructure needed to maintain seamless property-wide, carrier-grade WiFi calls. Selecting an enterprise Property Wide WiFi solution with the right hardware (Access Points) and a fiber-backed wiring solution are the first and perhaps most important choices you can make to insure a cutting-edge virtual triple play environment.

“For the best quality, you will need to meet a minimum upstream and downstream data throughput requirement. In addition, you'll also need to meet a minimum latency (time between when a signal leaves a remote computer and when your system receives it) number typically measured in milliseconds.”

WiFi Calling And The Future

There are those that think the cell carriers will meet maximum capacity in the very near future. Sadly, many users are already experiencing this. The cell carriers have been predicting this and thus have been looking for more bandwidth offloading strategies. WiFi calling offers a way to offload bandwidth and provide users with a better service experience. As this breakdown continues, the need for quality WiFi will only increase not just in apartment buildings but everywhere else we traverse.

What WiFi Calling Can Do For You Financially?

Installing a Fiber Backed Property Wide WiFi solution will allow for a premier WiFi calling experience, it will save you thousands on a DAS or cell booster solution and can open up Internet and IPTV revenue streams for your property. It’s a win, win, win situation. For less than most DAS systems you can install an enterprise grade WiFi system. Fiber and other premium Internet services have been proven to increase rental amounts by 8% or more. Said another way, you can increase you rental amounts by $80 for every thousand dollars in rental income.

At the end of the day most apartment brands are focusing on Profits and Happy residents. Your residents demand great telecommunications services whether it is cell coverage, Internet or TV. WiFi calling is the perfect way to offload the cost of boosting cell coverage while making a very nice return on investment from the other telecommunications services. The virtual triple play and the entire Internet of Things (IoT), for that matter, rely on a good Internet infrastructure. With a good foundation, the world is your oyster and your property will be poised to attract and retain residents for years to come. 

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