A smarter tech strategy requires a future-flexible network.
By Deanna MacCormac, Corning Optical Communications
Telehealth, resident tablet programs, touchless building automation, reliable high-speed Internet, campus-wide communications, remote-monitoring, wearables, sanitation robots — all of these technologies are becoming an important part of the senior living conversation.
The right technology can help keep communities safer, happier, healthier, connected and operating more efficiently. Though many communities understand why they may need to bring a new technology into their space, they are often faced with the challenge of how to do so.
Time to try something different
Behind the scenes of all the screens, wearables and smart devices is a telecommunications network that provides bandwidth and power to enable each end device. Over time, as our technology preferences grow, our networks become strained and unable to support our increased demands.
Traditionally, we have kept up with this increasing demand by pulling additional category cable which adds complexity to the network by way of multiple disparate systems. When it comes time to upgrade our networks, we typically rip out the existing category cabling inside our buildings and replace it with the next, latest standard. However, that approach keeps us stuck in a constant state of upgrading, repurchasing infrastructure, and only temporarily addressing our newest current network demands.
Instead, let’s consider a different approach that allows us to stay ahead of our technology demands by designing networks to last the lifetime of a building. To do so, we need to build telecommunication networks that are flexible, scalable and adaptable.
One piece of the equation is choosing future-ready cabling that can deliver more data and more power out to the edge of the network than traditional cabling. Composite cable — which has both fiber and copper under the same cable jacket — is a future-ready choice because it brings together the virtually unlimited bandwidth capabilities of fiber and the power-delivery capabilities of copper. By making a smarter infrastructure investment, communities can meet today’s technology needs while ensuring they have the ability to scale for tomorrow’s increased demands.
Consider these scenarios
Let’s talk about a resident room, for example. Say a one-bedroom unit needs Wi-Fi, TV, voice and a nurse-call system. Traditionally, this connectivity would require four or more copper cables — at least one cable to support each device.
With a fiber-deep approach, a community can run a single composite cable to the room and provide enough data and power to service the entire residence from that one cable. If the community were to upgrade their Wi-Fi in the future, they would not need to rip-and-replace or pull additional cabling in order to provide connectivity for a new Wi-Fi access point. They could simply swap the electronics out at the edge and implement the next phase of their technology plans.
Hotels have been utilizing this fiber-to-the-room approach for years as a way to deliver key services to guests who bring multiple devices to their properties and expect seamless connectivity.
Additionally, composite cable can reach beyond 2,000 feet, much further than the traditional 300-foot limitation of category cable. This means that a community does not need to build as many telecommunications closets. Instead, they can save money by installing smaller pathways and purchasing less ancillary networking equipment (think cable trays, rack space, power, cooling and the like). This recouped space can be repurposed as additional revenue-generating square footage such as an extra resident room.
These benefits apply to the rest of the property as well. Consider security cameras, outdoor Wi-Fi, sound masking systems, access controls and digital signage. These applications are prevalent throughout a community but can be far away from the nearest telecommunications closet, making it difficult to get data and power out to each end device. Like the resident room example above, a single composite cable can provide connectivity for multiple devices in an area. If the community were to change or add devices in the future, they already have the cabling requirements in place to bring new technologies into their space.
Implement a smarter technology strategy
When considering new technology plans, an expansion or building a new community, make connectivity part of the conversation. Investing in a future-flexible infrastructure is key to delivering a smarter technology strategy, and cabling is just one piece of the equation.
Deanna MacCormac is part of the In-Building Networks team at Corning Optical Communications.