Providing market intelligence for more than 35 years

Broadband/Communications

Positron Access Speaker Highlight - Smart Spaces

Pierre Trudeau, President and CTO of Positron Access, shares his insights on technology in the multifamily market ahead of Parks Associates’ Smart Spaces virtual event. With over 35 years of experience, he advocates diversifying technology solutions beyond fiber optics in multifamily markets. Pierre stresses seamless provisioning and anticipates the rise of G.hn technology for MDU broadband access, while also highlighting the importance of industry collaboration to accelerate adoption, setting the tone for discussions at the event.

Pierre will continue the conversation during the virtual panel, “Panel: PropTech Revenue and ROI,” on Thursday, March 21 at 2:45 PM CST. Join us for free with code All-OFF-VIP-SSC here!

Looking ahead, what projects or developments in the multifamily landscape are you particularly excited about this year, and why?

With the BEAD funding becoming usable in 2025, it feels as if 2024 will be the year of the MDU.  Operators are expected to prioritize the conversion of homes passed into homes served and MDUs represent a very significant untapped potential.  For this to happen, it will be important for Operators to expand their solution portfolio beyond “fiber at all cost” and look at technology (such as ITU-T G.hn) that deliver Gigabit Ethernet over existing wiring (telephone pairs and coax cabling).  Seamless flow-through provisioning and activation “just like fiber” will be critical since these Operators don’t have the capital nor the time to invest in additional BSS and OSS.

Reflecting on your career journey, what has been a standout moment or achievement that you're especially proud of?

As the founder of Colubris Networks in 2000 and one of the few successful Wi-Fi innovators, it was great to experience the growth of Wi-Fi from a concept to a dominant technology.

As a leader in the industry, what trends do you foresee shaping the future of smart living spaces in the next 5 years?

It feels the same as the early years of Wi-Fi as we now focus on making G.hn the de-facto Gigabit (and multi-Gigabit soon) solution that will enable broadband to everyone in legacy MDUs as it also becomes the backbone for managed Wi-Fi and smart building applications.

What are you most excited to discuss during Smart Spaces?

The pace of innovation with smart building MDUs is impressive, but the growth and revenues are somewhat held back by the availability of the Gigabit Ethernet infrastructure / backbone needed to support these APPs.  Thankfully, there are solutions from a number of vendors that leverage the legacy wiring/cabling and reduce delays and failed business case analysis bogging down these projects.

What are the top use cases for proptech in apartments?

It all starts with basic connectivity in each apartment and with seamless Wi-Fi roaming across the MDU becoming as simple as moving from the living room to the home office or bedroom.

What are the leading barriers to adoption of technology among MDUs?

Fiber is a fantastic medium, but the dominant approach to deploy fiber at all costs is slowing the penetration of smart techs in older MDUs.  This is counterproductive since many of these older properties could benefit from better security/access control and from the power savings from more efficient use of energy.  This would also help reduce the overall carbon footprint of these buildings.

In your view, how are smart technologies reshaping the landscape of multi-dwelling units and hospitality environments?

Several studies confirm the importance of top-notch broadband connectivity when residents select an apartment or condo unit.  Broadband then becomes the enabler of pretty much all smart tech applications.  The “user experience” is important and managed Wi-Fi with seamless roaming is the cornerstone of this Quality of Experience.  This helps residents more fully experience the benefits of smart tech.

In the hospitality market, it is now well understood that the older approach of “Corridor Wi-Fi” is no longer suitable.  In-room Wi-Fi coverage needs to be much better.  Thankfully, there is nearly 100% availability of coax cabling which makes it the perfect medium to connect Wi-Fi Access Points, deliver IPTV and aggregate IoT traffic from various sensors, smart locks, and housekeeping applications…

Can you share insights on the challenges and opportunities in integrating diverse smart technologies within residential and hospitality settings?

It may feel as though I am repeating myself, but it all begins with in-building broadband connectivity.  This Gigabit Ethernet connectivity needs to allow for the isolation / protection of different services for obvious security and privacy reasons.

As consumer expectations evolve, what strategies do you recommend for property managers and real estate professionals to stay competitive in the era of smart living?

Applications will evolve over time and new business cases will need to be assessed. The common ground will remain the availability of a solid Gigabit Ethernet infrastructure.  The G.hn technology is evolving toward offering 10 Gigabits by 2026-2027 which demonstrate the power of the existing wiring in these MDUs.  The CAPEX savings from reusing the existing wiring can then be used to support the implementation of new APPs over time.

Security and privacy are paramount concerns in smart spaces. How can stakeholders address these concerns while harnessing the benefits of interconnected technologies?

This begins by making the Gigabit Ethernet support end-to-end encryption of the user traffic as well as comprehensive VLAN for traffic isolation and QoS enforcement.  While seamless Wi-Fi roaming requires some awareness of the movement of Wi-Fi devices across the MDUs, the industry needs to come together and put standards in place to support this mobility without the need to spread any information about the movement of devices to any services outside of the MDU.  More work will be required to make sure this is consistently enforced and that the access to this mobility information is properly used.

Collaboration is key in driving innovation. How can industry players effectively collaborate to accelerate the adoption of smart technologies across different sectors?

It begins with shared goals and scope of the services to offer.  Trade organizations will likely need to get involved to develop standards or at the very least well-accepted industry practices.

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