In-building mobile coverage – A shared approach between Landlord and Tenant
The commercial real estate sector has been going through several changes in recent years, moving away from the development of bricks and mortar to that of a service provider, focused on tenant experience and satisfaction. Part of this has been driven by the explosion of co-working environments with organisations such as Storey by British Land and WeWork employing Space-as-a-Service as their model. This allows tenants to take up flexible subscription-based offices, fully connected with Audio Visual, meeting rooms, reliable mobile signal for calls and data, Wi-Fi and other amenities.
A major requirement for positive tenant experience is ‘always on’ connectivity for its employees and guests alike. We know of course that mobile connectivity is not guaranteed inside buildings, but it is guaranteed that where there are mobile dead zones users are left extremely frustrated.
Within commercial developments, there is still a great deal of ambiguity over who is responsible for providing dedicated indoor mobile boosting to ensure tenants, staff and guests have guaranteed and quality 4G & 5G connectivity.
Is it the responsibility of the tenant, landlord or Mobile Network Operator (MNO) to solve?
It could be argued that a paying tenant will expect a reliable signal for mobile calls and data as a basic requirement alongside other utilities like water and power. However it can also be argued that if that consideration isn’t dealt with in a lease then why should a landlord be responsible , or why should a mobile operator be responsible if its signal doesn’t penetrate a developers building given they have no control over building materials.
One thing that is for certain, the Mobile Network Operators (MNO’s) will not pay for or fund in-building coverage solutions because it simply isn’t an affordable model for them. It may have been in the past but the cost of mobile plans to customers has decreased ~90% over the last 10 years and they can no longer fund these systems.
So, who pays?
The solution to this dilemma often lies in various commercial and delivery models that satisfy both the landlord and the tenant. There are many commercial models in terms of how the system is paid for either as capex or coverage-as-a-service, but that’s a separate topic to be discussed at another time.
However, a good example of a delivery model that achieves building wide mobile coverage and apportions costs sensibly is one we are seeing more and more nowadays, especially in multi tenanted office space (as opposed to single tenancy occupancy). It’s one that delivers coverage sequentially with pro-rated investment from landlord and tenant in a very practical way. The below example sets out a model we are seeing quite often.
1. The essential first step – Mobile coverage enablement:
Landlord takes the first step to digitize its building. It pays for an indoor coverage survey, iBwave JOTS-NHIB compliant design that secures approval by the MNOS and installs core network Open RAN infrastructure. This landlord investment will depend on the size and type of building and somewhere between 5-15% of total system solution price.
An MNO approved design is the core requirement to get a building connected, an essential foundation upon which a building wide solution is planned. This option has the lowest financial impact on the landlord but allows them to provide the foundation for this service to their tenants and also allows them to market their building as Mobile ready by achieving Wiredscore accreditation.
2. Covering the basics - Landlord Demise:
The landlord begins the journey to coverage and installs at their cost a JOTS-NHIB compliant Open RAN 4G solution ( Small cell or DAS) which will radiate cellular coverage within their demise - normally the common areas, reception, lift lobbies , car parks, back of house , plant area and anywhere that is common to all users.
The system is cabled throughout the building core areas which will also be useful for tenants should they wish to join the system in the future.
In this scenario , the Landlord is ensuring coverage in theses common areas but not into individual tenant leased floors. The landlord considers it fair that they pay for coverage in these areas, the investment makes sense and their users are happy.
3. Extending coverage - Tenant Areas:
Tenants who lease space in the building will find on occupation that they won’t have mobile coverage in their demise, but they will also come to realise quickly that the journey to coverage is not as costly, nor will the wait be as lengthy, as if they had to start at the very beginning i.e. design phase.
They can connect to the live system already radiating in the common areas, that the Landlord has installed. They will of course have to pay to extend the systems into their demise, but because the basics are already in place through initial investment in Landlord Demise – the cost is much reduced. Each tenant is financially responsible for their own footprint.
This shared cost and sequential mobile coverage system installation approach to solve real estate coverage is a model that makes financial sense to both parties. It helps maintain good relationships between Landlord and Tenant, as no one party is overburdened with the cost, while delivering on what every user in the building needs as a basic requirement in the 21st century – reliable mobile coverage.
Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how Vilicom can assist you with the building your site specific mobile coverage problems.
Liam Graham – Senior Sales Manager UK - Liam.Graham@vilicom.com +44 7597 800622
Gearoid Collins – Director of Sales and Marketing UK - Gearoid.Collins@vilicom.com +44 7407 810619