We know how you feel. When it comes to broadband Internet connectivity at your properties, ever-changing technology can leave your head spinning, while draining your wallet. First, you had to hard-wire your buildings to keep up in the amenity race. But much of that effort seemed pointless when DSL became available over existing phone lines. Then came wireless and Wi-Fi, so that your laptop-toting tenants demanded "hot spots" in your lobbies and club areas. Now, the tech guy in your office is starting to talk about WiMAX, an emerging wireless broadband technology that promises to pump information faster, and further, than Wi-Fi ever dreamed of. While that sounds great, it probably also makes you wonder if the whole ugly technology upgrade cycle is about to begin again.
That's the case at StarPoint Properties, a management and investment firm in Beverly Hills, Calif. "We've already put in Wi-Fi in some of our communities, and now, it looks like WiMAX is going to make it obsolete," says Paul Daneshrad, StarPoint's CEO. "You have to put a lot of critical thought into making sure you understand the life expectancy of your technology."
Proponents of WiMAX say they feel apartment executives' pain. "I can understand the concerns and questions apartment owners and managers have when it comes to WiMAX," says Doug O'Neil, senior director of wireless broadband marketing at BellSouth, which recently piloted a successful, pre-WiMAX trial in an apartment setting in the Southeast and plans to offer the technology through its newly launched community technologies group in coming years. "There's a lot of [confusion] in the market about what this enabling technology can do."
Don't worry. Contrary to what you may have heard, the next big push in wireless broadband probably won't supplant all the efforts you've made so far to provide a fix for your high-tech tenants' jones. In fact, it might even help, and for less money than you thought. Maybe.