WiFi vs DAS Solutions: Powering Tenant Connectivity in Commercial Office Buildings

As businesses look to define their ‘new normal’ in the wake of COVID-19, many have started charting their path back to the office. Whether they plan to give employees flexible hybrid options or implement a sweeping return-to-work plan, they’ll need to identify the best commercial space for the way they conduct business.

In turn, the commercial real estate space has drastically evolved to meet the newly identified demands of returning office workers, such as eco-conscious operations, more space to social distance and mobile connectivity at every touchpoint.

A stable, secure internet connection is top of mind as employees readjust to work outside their homes. Many tenants and investors alike are rethinking their options as the demand for data and new applications expands exponentially.

So, how have these professionals responded to recent changes in commercial connectivity concerns? And what can they do to provide a seamless experience that outperforms residential WiFi and all its limitations?

Remote Work Redefined User Expectations

Pre-pandemic, many multi-tenant office buildings relied on a disjointed mix of solutions to keep users connected day-to-day. Since cellular signals typically can’t penetrate large commercial buildings, owners and operators offered standard WiFi in common areas and for building staff. Then, they asked tenants to help mitigate connectivity gaps by:

  • Enabling WiFi calling on their phones
  • Setting up their own routers and networks for office use
  • Making do with spotty local cellular availability

Unfortunately, this policy of letting tenants manage their own connectivity created an inconsistent and often poor wireless experience. As tenants established more WiFi networks, the influx of routers, users, and devices increased interference and frequently ruined performance.

When businesses adopted remote work models during the pandemic, the shortcomings of tenant-led connectivity became even more apparent. Remote employees looked to their residences to provide them with top-tier connectivity, even as a rapid rise in remote work created brand new challenges for landlords and internet service providers (ISPs).

Residential real estate rose to the challenge and gave residents new opportunities to get online, in their private residences or common areas at their apartment complexes. While the pandemic disrupted numerous aspects of daily life, it also showed employees that the office wasn’t the only place they could conduct business.

Many working professionals realized they actually preferred remote work, especially when they could do it with minimal connectivity interruptions or downtime. This shift in expectations means commercial spaces can’t simply rely on pre-pandemic solutions to re-attract or retain tenants. Instead, they’ll need to rethink connectivity and refine their approach to the tenant experience.

Return to Office Planning Hinges on Reliable Connectivity

For many, the path back to the office isn’t fully defined yet. Landlords are still reacting to the recent influx in remote work and continue to improve their onsite connectivity. In turn, users have come to expect professional-grade internet access at home — whether provided by a landlord or installed on their personal property.

Both investors and tenants view connectivity as the top differentiator for a commercial office space. Real estate developers are looking to attract tenants who may currently be working from home, which means WiFi’s effectiveness is being called into question across multiple audiences.

As business leaders plan their return to the office, they’re likely coming back to the drawing board with higher expectations than they had pre-pandemic. Their employees have grown accustomed to remote work and realized that at-home connections are a viable option. If they’re expected back in the office, they’ll be looking to employers to provide them with more flexible, more reliable commercial connectivity that isn’t limited to a short-range router or inconsistent signal.

Employers will shop for a commercial office space with these factors in mind. They’ll look for commercial spaces that can guarantee a better experience than at-home WiFi by offering indoor dedicated cellular solutions and reliable internet access across the board.

WiFi is No Longer a Sufficient Solution For Tenants

For years, WiFi was the go-to solution for internet access, especially in public spaces. WiFi is an easy way to meet personal connectivity needs — like checking email, streaming or browsing the web — but it can’t always rise to the occasion in professional, commercial applications.

Commercial networks and infrastructure need to go beyond the lowest common denominator in connectivity. They need more reliability and security to effectively house and transfer sensitive, revenue-based information.

Cellular-based networks like Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) offer a secure, reliable option for tenant connectivity, with cellular signals that can penetrate buildings and deliver a consistent experience across every square inch of commercial space.


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