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Will 5G Wireless Revolutionize Multifamily?

April 23, 2019

5G is Coming to Multifamily

We’ve talked previously about technology as amenity in multifamily and apartment development settings.  What underpins this rapid growth is called 5G cellular transmission. It’s a transformative technology which heralds in a whole range of new digital services.

To multifamily development owners and managers, it means a new era of business services, convenience, and tenant services.

Google intends to build a smart city on the Toronto Waterfront

Smart Buildings and Smart Cities in 2019

Wireless technology is integral to smart building automation and services, facilities operation, and tenant services. The need is greater in high density neighborhoods.

Renters as an example, are buying a lifestyle and you know how central wireless is to them now.  Retail/commercial tenants need the latest in business services. 5G high speed transmission is a solution that will impact hotels, student housing, apartments, malls, resorts, and condomium complexes.

5G projects are being implemented in Toronto, Canada where Google’s sidwalk labs are building a “smart city” featuring 5G technology. And in the Toronto Rogers Centre, where 2 of Toronto’s pro sports teams play, 5G antennas have already been installed.

5G Arrives in 2019

At some point in the next few years you’ll have your first 5G experience on your phone (they’re shipping this year).  It might be at a trade show expo or a major sporting event in 2019. Everyone wants to do things via mobile, and 5G can make tenants and business professional’s mobility dreams come true.

5G ushers in a new era for building managers and property managers, with capex costs and revenue opportunities.
Yet current data transmission capacity is not keeping up. For building owners, wired systems are a headache yet with 5G, wired might be a thing of the past.

“The evolution is going to take some time,” says Marcie Williams, President of Charlotte, N.C.-based RKW Residential, a third-party manager of more than 13,000 units. “5G is coming, but it’s not here yet. The network still has to be built out.” — post on

You Will be Paying, yet you Can Earn Revenue Too

Building owners as it turns out, will have to fund the cost to upgrade to 5G. Within two years, $26 billion will be invested in 5G network infrastructure and someone will have to pay for it, especially in their own developments. That is frightening however, what if you can leverage the tenant drawing power of 5G to grow revenue and brand image?

Yes, you can raise rents, but what if 5G was in itself, a revenue growing business model for multifamily owners, landlords, or property managers to which residential and commercial tenants can subscribe? From hidden cell towers to premium Internet service, there’s opportunities to build revenue.

5G smartphone subscriptions will rise toward 3 billion within 5 years.

4G and Wifi Can’t Keep Up

Most of tenant and building data services are delivered via cable, optic fiber, distributed antennas, 4G cellular, and Wifi. The current 4G and Wifi technology is reaching its maximum delivery capabilities, hence the need for a next generation wireless solution.

Evolution of Cellular Generations. Screenshot courtesy of ULI and Milestone

Property managers are wondering how this will affect building automation and tenant services in their developments. The answer to that is complex. 5G is a two letter word for a monster sized topic.

Let’s get into this exciting business opportunity without too much jargon (because this area is dominated by confusing tech babble).

Tenants Love High Speed Data

When showing a rental unit, you may have seen prospective renters take a look at their phone’s cell signal icon. They know the steel, concrete, low e-glass and other materials block or weaken signals for 4G LTE. How can you be comfortable in your apartment with poor cell service?

Sadly, 5G won’t change the signal disruption and blocking issues. But it will offer incredible speeds for live video, online gaming, and other things that tenants do. Lower power needs mean their 5G phone battery wouldn’t run down quick. This makes 5G service an attractive rental benefit to many younger tenants.

What is 5G?

5G is the next generation and standard of cellular data transmission technology. It uses a higher frequency, almost microwave signal, achieving speeds of up to 20 gigabits per second. That’s fast enough to download an entire Hollywood movie in a few seconds according to Len Forkas of Milestone communications.

According to him, 5G will allow video images 4 times more clear than current technology. 5G requires less energy which means batteries on devices will last longer. One drawback to 5G is short range which means many, many more antennas need to be placed.

Here’s Len Forkas describing 5G tech at the ULI 2018 spring convention and trade show.

It’s much faster than 4G, with very low latency times, near to the speed of optic fiber (up to 10gb/second). Autonomous car manufacturers are waiting for this technology due to its need for ultra-fast, massive and always-on data flow that lets a robot car react to all driving situations safely.


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A Whole New System of Hardware, Software and Signaling

5G technology will enhance security systems, and other voice and data systems used in buildings. In fact, with 5G beamforming, signals can be pointed directly to a device (even a moving mobile phone) thus eliminating directionless signals which cause interference, waste power, and have dead zones.

Many devices can be connected via 5G, however its short signal range means a whole new system of hardware is needed. More equipment will be placed on rooftops and other locations.

If data and communications are vital to tenants in commercial developments or multifamily developments, then 5G represents a way to leverage its revenue opportunity.

5G will revolutionize multifamily property management. Your next questions will be regarding how to integrate it into your developments.

Looking for a simpler, more powerful all in one property management solution?  See why ManageCasa can streamline your operations, make tenants happier, and help you increase ROI.


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