Wireless network planning in modular buildings

Modular construction is a simple idea. Whilst the concrete core of the building in question is built onsite, almost everything else is prefabricated offsite in a factory setting, and transported to the building site for final assembly. But whatever the type of modular construction project, wireless connectivity is going to be a key requirement. From apartment blocks to student halls of residence, office buildings to hotels, competent wireless network planning is essential to deliver high speed connectivity to the occupants. Indeed, many modular buildings are ultimately managed and let by a single management organisation, particularly in light of the rise of ‘build to rent’. Such organisations need to be able to guarantee the same high standards of connectivity in every individual pod or component.

Wireless connectivity and beyond

And internet connectivity is just one of the overall networking requirements for a typical modular building. Systems such as CCTV, building alarms and other security systems, as well as door entry systems and building management systems (BMSs) like fire safety solutions all require networks of some shape or form. All this means that modular construction projects need to pay serious attention to wireless network planning which determines when and how the network infrastructure is built in. Wait until all of the individual pods or components have been installed onsite, and add wireless connectivity at the very end? You get the advantage of clarity and a holistic approach – but are also adding a potentially complex build and installation task at the end of what was meant to be a clean, logical and accelerated construction project, piece by piece.

A converged approach from Curve IT

Instead, wireless connectivity should be approached in a modular way too. One approach is to install a single, strong converged network throughout the entire building, and then use software to split it up into individual virtual LANs, or VLANs. Each individual VLAN can then be used to support a different networked function,  from security and management systems to whole-building WiFi.

Turning specifically to WiFi, an approach which is particularly useful for build to rent and student accommodation is to generate Personal Area Networks, which allow residents to access their home WiFi from anywhere in the building – even if they are in the lobby and their flat is on the top floor. These networks can also travel with tenants between individual buildings in an operator’s estate.

Ultimately, modular constructors should look to involve IT networking specialists as early as possible in their projects, working with both the operations and the brand or marketing team to develop a wireless connectivity strategy which is as efficient and logical as the building itself.