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The Net Worth of Your Network

With 73% of all Americans and 71% of 50-64 year olds using the World Wide Web, there is no doubt that how your community provides Internet access to your residents is very important. There are different ways for a community to provide high-speed, broadband Internet access to residents. One way is to have each resident work directly with the telephone or cable television carrier that services the area. Another is for your community to supply Internet access to each individual resident. Both of these options have their pros and cons, and selecting the right option greatly depends on your community’s financial model, current infrastructure, and IT support staff.

“Many communities are beginning to provide campus-wide wireless networks (Wi-Fi or WLANs) that… become truly valuable if the community is capable of leveraging the use of these networks for other services such as health records management, resident care, work order management, or even voice communications.”

The first choice is to have each resident provision their own Internet access through the telephone or cable television carrier that serves your community. This access would be similar to the Internet service one might get at home – either DSL from the telephone company or broadband from the cable television company. The access would be billed directly to the resident and would give each resident the flexibility to order different packages that the particular carrier may be offering. The resident also then has the capability to bundle services (i.e. cable television, telephone, and Internet access) for better value.

Alternatively, your community can provide Internet access for each resident. Even though this Internet access can become a revenue stream, if your community is not staffed to handle IT concerns from residents, it can become an overhead expense. On the other hand, if you are staffed to handle IT concerns, this can be a great way to leverage these staff members. In this case, the logical solution would be to extend the wired local area network that is used for administrative purposes to the resident units. Depending on the infrastructure that is in place, extending the network to outlying buildings may not be feasible. Many communities are beginning to provide campus-wide wireless networks (Wi-Fi or WLANs) that are able to deliver Internet access to each resident. These solutions become truly valuable if the community is capable of leveraging the use of these networks for other services such as health records management, resident care, work order management, or even voice communication.

It is safe to say that the expanding network that connects our computers, telephones, low-voltage systems, and mobile phones is only going to get more complicated. Further, the integrity, security, and dependability of such networks will be imperative as our reliance on them continues to grow. With additional services being offered online and increasing demand for these services, how your community will provide access to residents is a key topic to address.

– Michael J. Sanzotti, RCDD, LEED AP

Michael is Reese Engineering’s Director of Technology Solutions, a Registered Communications Distribution Designer, and a LEED Accredited Professional. Please feel free to contact Michael for further details regarding the above information.