On today’s show we’re talking about value engineering your finished product. It’s hard to believe that a little bit of software makes it possible to save a bunch of money in the communications infrastructure for your projects.

Today’s property has so many connections. There is water, sewer, electricity, telephone, Cable TV, internet, natural gas.

When you are supplying services to a multi-family apartment or assisted living project, every single one of these services costs money. In fact, it’s common to have two water mains, one for the household use, and a second higher capacity water supply for the sprinkler system.

These days, a modern building will be pre-wired with cable for telephone, internet, and Cable TV. It might even be pre-wired for the security system and for surveillance security cameras.

We just recently went through an exercise where our general contractor missed a critical item in the scope of work. They agreed to absorb the cost of the error. But nevertheless it became clear that the designers had specified a lot of wiring in the buildings.

We decided to undertake a significant cost reduction in the wiring of the project in order to save money. But the real question is whether we would experience any loss of capability or quality. We’re not willing to compromise on the quality of service. At the end of the day, the residents want their service and they want it to work reliably with great performance. The want to be able to make phone calls, watch TV, and access any internet based service. How that’s accomplished is immaterial.

Traditionally all three of those services had their own separate infrastructure. Today, the technology makes it possible to put all three services on top of the basic internet service.

It was an easy decision to eliminate the legacy telephone wiring. These days, even in the event of a power outage, the need for a hard wired telephone is virtually non-existent. So many people have wireless cellular phones that a hardwired phone is no longer needed.

The second cost saving comes from eliminating the Cable TV wiring. There is no need for Cable TV. Virtually every market has a TV service provider offering a digital set top box that can be connected via Ethernet or WiFi.

Now I know what you’re thinking. A wired connection is going to be a better connection than a wireless connection. WiFi connections are prone to interference.

Wireless technology has changed dramatically over the past decade. The older legacy WiFi technology used the 2.4 GHz spectrum. That region of the airwaves is unlicensed and you can literally have all kinds of interference showing up in that radio band. You can have garage door openers, microwave ovens, cordless telephones, and yes, lots of other WiFi access points. If you’re in a sense urban environment like NYC, it’s common to see the radio signal of 40-50 other wireless networks. All that interference can make for a very unreliable connection.

The newer wireless technology uses the 5 GHz spectrum. As you go up in frequency, the shorter the distance the signal will carry. That’s both good and bad. It’s good because it means that you will experience less interference. It also means that your own radio signal won’t go as far. You may be required to install multiple wireless access points in order to get decent wireless coverage within your desired coverage area. As an example, we’ve designed a system that will use five access points in order to provide coverage for a 9,000 square foot home. The reason for having five access points is to have each one operate in a difference frequency band within the 5GHz spectrum. This means that each region of the home will be very close to the base station.

We’ve replaced the legacy wiring with bundles of 24 optical fibers per building. This ensures expansion capacity for decades to come.