The development of smart buildings will be one of the top priorities for network deployers in the coming years, as building owners and operators increasingly demand fully interconnected environments that can control everything from security systems and HVAC to AV equipment.
But putting in place the right infrastructure for this is no easy task. Smart buildings will demand a complex mix of wired and wireless equipment, as well as support solutions to control and maintain these networks. Getting everything working in concert and ensuring that every piece of technology in every room can communicate seamlessly will therefore be a major undertaking.
The importance of an effective smart building
However, the rewards for doing so can be great. Indeed, networking firm CommScope recently noted that commercial real estate companies and property management firms are increasingly recognising that effective in-building networking coverage, which includes comprehensive wireless capabilities, are the key to attracting new tenants.
It noted that locations with such solutions in place can see the value of the property increase by as much as 29 per cent and give these buildings a clear competitive advantage. However, many are still struggling to ensure they are able to provide tenants with the connectivity they expect.
Therefore, CommScope is set to introduce a range of new solutions that seek to address any gaps in coverage and deliver a comprehensive, cost-effective network that encompasses both wired and wireless technologies.
Rick Varnell, executive vice-president of building technology consultancy at commercial real estate investment firm CBRE, said: "Network connectivity is a foundational part of any building strategy. We are working with CommScope to ensure that our diverse set of customers will receive the best wired and wireless solutions for their specific needs and will be able to realise the most value from their properties."
The right foundations
So what do building operators need to do to ensure they have an effective smart building strategy? Firstly, they must ensure they have the right infrastructure at the foundation to support other technology.
This means both fibre-optic and copper cabling where appropriate, as well as universal connectivity grids, Power over Ethernet solutions that are capable of supporting AV solutions and Internet of Things devices, and smart Ethernet switches that ensure everything is able to flow smoothly through the network without any bottlenecks.
This should then be backed up with effective management solutions and professional services that can give the support firms need. For instance, CommScope identified automated infrastructure management and scalable network controllers for wireless and wired management as important aspects of this.
Closing the in-building wireless gap
The next step should be ensuring that wireless connectivity is able to reach every corner of a building. This should start with access points that must be placed in such a way as to cover every IoT sensor within a location.
However, this is not all buildings need. In order to bridge any remaining wireless gaps, CommScope is demonstrating its Era C-RAN antenna system and the recently-acquired Ruckus Networks' CBRS LTE system together in a cost-saving joint-deployment model.
"This combination of technologies brings an unparalleled range of wireless communications – both commercial mobile operator services and emerging CBRS private LTE networks – all in an efficient, unified infrastructure that paves the way for 5G in the building," the company stated.