To SMART or not to SMART is the question in 2021?

By Bill Heinz, vice president and co-owner, PBX-Change

Is it realistic for consumers, be they business or residential, to expect that quality reliable Internet be available like other utilities? Is it time we considered the Internet as a utility just like power and water?

These are the questions that service providers, developers and management companies are asking themselves these days as quality internet access is an absolute necessity for virtually everyone today; be it at home or at work.

A SMART PARK could be a business complex, condominium, hotel or a residential area with ubiquitous WiFi for all common areas, where businesses/residents could activate their individual Internet over the phone at the start of a tenancy because the locations were constructed with pre-wiring for internet access ports. With a Smart Park type solution, customers, and subscribers, get access to high-speed, reliable, quality internet, without having to wait months for fiber build-outs, if they are approved and can be funded.

For new buildings, it would seem obvious to take advantage of improved technology and provide the best solution for your tenants or customers, instead of the handshake deals that benefit developers and “mega service providers.”

With a bulk agreement, even older buildings can be retrofitted into a “Smart Park” type environment, resulting in a far lower per user cost, than what the subscribers are typically paying per month.

The Senate passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan COVID-19 aid bill on March 6, which will allot another $17 billion for broadband investment. This is the largest, single federal investment in broadband infrastructure and affordability to date.

As part of this bill, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will set up an E-rate Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), which will go towards paying the total cost of equipment, including computers, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and connected devices and communications services deployed at eligible schools and libraries, for both in-building and remote use.

In the greater Tampa Bay Area we are seeing some “Smart Park” type office buildings, and housing developments, but they are still far from the norm. What options do local developers or property managers have? Traditionally they would have turned to one of the “mega service providers” that have deep pockets and access to Federal, State or local county funding, but those wheels turn very slowly. Nor does this approach gel with the rapid increase in entrepreneurial, high-tech growth we are seeing in the Tampa Bay Area. With a “Smart Park” type solution, customers/subscribers get access to high-speed, reliable, quality internet, without having to wait months for fiber build-outs, if they are approved and can be funded.

There is an alternative. By utilizing an Enterprise-Level solution consisting of access to existing buried underground fiber pathways and wireless mmWave technology, PBX-Change has been able to provide quality, reliable and affordable Internet access, both in the “retro fit” model and in new developments.

PBX-Change’s July 2020 rollout to Tempo at Encore!, Tampa Housing Authority’s development in downtown Tampa, is a perfect example of what can be done in a short period of time by a locally owned and operated provider that is willing to think outside the box This single philanthropic idea and action has created an entirely new line of business opportunities.

Utilizing a 5Gbps feed to the property via mmWave gear from Siklu – ultra-fast, reliable and installed at the mixed-use apartment complex in just a couple weeks – PBX-Change was able to provide service to 203 units, and common areas. The service has been active for almost 12 months and is easily meeting five nines, 99.999% up time standards.

In the fast-moving, technology-aware Tampa Bay marketplace, both subscribers and service providers are beginning to look beyond what was previously deemed as the “acceptable reliability, quality and deployment timeline.” Instead, they expect that Internet access be treated as a utility that is readily and seamlessly available, in any location of their choice.

Bill Heinz

Schools, business parks, condominium complexes, mobile home parks, HOA environments are all ideal candidates for this type of ‘Smart Park’ deployment. The key is a bulk subscriber agreement. With enough momentum (and local users), PBX-Change can install a rock solid network, at an extremely affordable cost per user, which allows developers, property managers and business owners the opportunity to offer quality, reliable Internet access as a utility to their end-users.

Bill Heinz has spent 20 years in the telecommunications industry. Bill is Vice President, and co-owner, of PBX-Change and has been with the company since 1999. Reach Bill: [email protected]




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