Does Wifi Actually Add Lease Appeal?


It was announced last week that Google (GOOGL) donated $600,000 to fund a San Francisco Wifi network.

New York City should be so lucky—sadly, we aren’t far enough behind to warrant such a charitable act. Therefore, it’s up to landlords to foot the bill for wireless.

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Here’s why they should.

Perhaps Jeff Pagano, CEO and founder of Iconic Consulting and client services manager at Power Consulting Group, put it best when he answered our question with another question. “Does Wifi add lease appeal? Does running water add lease appeal?”

According to experts, it does.

Peter Grace, director of IT for Stack Exchange, one of the most popular programming sites on the web, says that as long as it’s a properly outfitted network, it’s a great way to attract potential lessees.

“Wifi can be a selling point, if it is done properly,” he said. “But the prevalence of consumer-grade Wifi routers in the marketplace has given many people a false sense of security—they think they can simply purchase a device off the shelf and it will magically envelop their property in a balloon of wireless high-speed networking.”

He continued, “Having proof of a professional install with quality equipment will go a long way toward convincing the lessee that you’re attuned to their technology needs.”

Here’s a startling idea: landlords may actually risk losing prospective or existing tenants if they don’t offer Wifi.

“I have personally spoken with real estate owners who told me how they lost several multimillion-dollar condo sales because they could not provide universal [Wifi] access in their buildings,” said Pete Giampietro, owner and vice president of Teleplan Associates Inc.

However, the most common concern among all Wifi users has always been this: what if someone else is able to access my data?

Mr. Grace says that for every wireless access point you install, it’s competing with over 100 other access points within wireless range. It’s also, as always, incredibly susceptible to hackers.

“Specifically commercial Wifi equipment has added technology that makes it very easy to centrally manage your wireless networks and help fight off interference,” he said, citing Aruba and Cisco/Meraki as highly regarded brands. This equipment is also more expensive than its consumer counterparts.

WIFICompanies can—and should—pay more to beef up security by opting for private networks, which comes with the added benefit of avoiding congestion from other in-house networks.

“It may seem not worth the cost of a $700 access point when you can buy a consumer unit for $100, but the value in management and interference abatement is worth it when you factor less overall cost of service,” said Mr. Grace.