Wireless Telecom: The Often Forgotten Utility

by Gina Rae

The worlds of construction and commercial real estate are about to change with regard to wireless telecommunications infrastructure, but not many people know it. Gone are the days when telecom carriers paid for in-building solutions, as the demand for wireless connectivity has become too much for the moguls to keep up with financially. Responsibility now lies with building owners and developers, but in my efforts to connect the community of Boston with this fact, I have discovered that there is very little knowledge about this significant problem.

There are over 6 million large buildings in U.S. metropolitan areas that are in need of internal wireless coverage. We telecom professionals refer to this market as the “enterprise” or “middleprise.”  Cellular carriers no longer have unlimited capital to implement the network solutions needed resulting in subscriber dissatisfaction.   Henceforth, at some point in the near future, we can expect developers and building owners to begin to incorporate the wireless solutions into their designs, but we can also expect tenants to absorb a lot of the cost. The problem is that not enough attention is delivered to the issue on the construction and commercial real estate sides of things. Thus, tenants continue to experience poor connectivity and first responders continue to have issues for safety and rescue operations.

photo by Matthew Landers

Ensuring internet and landline capability is very common when it comes to construction design, but it is rare that designers consider and incorporate an in-building wireless solution. In a world where the demand for connectivity now requires global infrastructure for over 10 billion devices and where safety implications are at the forefront of connectivity concerns for first responders, it is increasingly imperative that building owners and developers offer and build structures that have in-building wireless coverage. Companies like Timberline Communications, Inc. (TCI) bridge the gap.

TCI is one of two companies owned by Steven P. Kelly (the first being Timberline Construction), and after 17 years of traditional tower building, the company observes the wireless industry is changing at a significantly rapid pace. Today’s telecom world has an emphasis on small cells and in-building solutions instead of traditional towers solely. TCI has deemed it necessary to perform a partnership with general construction to commence delivery of in-building wireless infrastructure and improve Boston’s “WiredScore” — a commercial real estate rating — and its safety  response capabilities. The company now has a new market for clientele: landlords and developers. The issue is that said market is not yet cognizant of the implications of the exponential technological leaps of the wireless telecom industry and that it is integral to subscribers and the community as a whole from a safety perspective to start implementing solutions as early as the design stage. Certifying a building project can happen at any stage of the development process, though.

According to www.wiredscore.com, “More than 1,700 properties — totaling 460 million square feet of office space in over 158 cities, including New York, London, Toronto, Paris, and Berlin — have achieved wired certification by providing superior tech capabilities for their tenants.” Achieving certification and incorporating this solution into the design phase is beneficial for many reasons: enhance the reputation of your building, prevent future retro-fit costs, increase building safety, and attract tenants.

The demand for such coverage will not subside over time because our requirements for connectivity are only increasing. Telecom professionals project that, by 2020, there will be over 50 billion devices communicating across all networks, requiring myriad hybrid solutions, and that the wireless aspect of such connectivity will be predominant. Landlords and developers can be part of the trend-setting solutions and get ahead of the curve now by implementing the anticipated coverage needs within current and future buildings.

Gina Rae / Photo by Timberline


Gina Rae, PMP, is senior program manager at Timberline Communications. Inc.


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