Advice and Opinion

Five things property buyers need to ask about Wi-Fi

Andile Ngcaba, Chairperson of the Wi-Fi Forum of SA (WFFSA).

Wi-Fi connectivity is increasingly being bundled with other valued amenities in residential property developments across South Africa. A quick search on any search engine or property portal will reveal Wi-Fi connectivity being touted across developments in areas as diverse as Gauteng’s Sandton and Ottery in the Western Cape.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the advantages for property owners of equipping units with Wi-Fi include the boosting of property values while also helping to ensure quicker sales and rentals of available units. For the rental market, Wi-Fi connectivity is a definite plus and can even be a deal-breaker.

With Internet connectivity almost on a par with water and electricity when it comes to essential utilities, we’re seeing Wi-Fi making the transition from a secondary connectivity option in public spaces to a primary connectivity option in people’s private spaces. As their main outlet to the digital world, it has to be fast and it has to be affordable. Wi-Fi can be both, if it is provided by a reputable service provider and meets global standards.

For their part, South Africa’s property developers are proving to be enthusiastic Wi-Fi adopters, with many newly-built residential property developments punting wireless web connectivity along with the usual selling features such as concierge services, gyms and entertainment areas.

Wi-Fi connectivity in public open spaces is also becoming fairly widespread with initiatives such as that in Tshwane and even Wi-Fi connected benches in Braamfontein taking the lead in connecting people as they go about their daily business. Residential property developers are now realising that Wi-Fi adds a unique selling proposition to their newly-built complexes.

However, not all Wi-Fi installations are created equal. There are five points below that potential residential property buyers should note:

1. It is important to ask upfront how Wi-Fi connectivity is billed in the complex. There is the need to understand whether the service provided is uncapped and/or if any shaping/throttling is applied and if so, when?

2. Prospective residents should determine how many Wi-Fi enabled devices and the data usage patterns of the devices they may have in their household, and then ask the developer if the Internet service provided to the complex would be sufficient if everyone had similar Wi-Fi usage patterns.

3. Check if Wi-Fi access is adequately provided throughout the development’s common areas and not just in the private units. Relaxing by the pool won’t be terribly relaxing at all if one can’t find an Internet signal.

4. It’s crucial to ascertain what technical support is provided if there are connectivity problems. In particular, who would tenants and owners call when there is an issue and what turnaround time can be expected.

5. Finally, don’t take the agent or developer’s word: ask current residents what their Wi-Fi experience has been like. You’ll soon get a sense of whether or not you can rely on the development’s connectivity for web-related work, leisure and entertainment.

There are a myriad reasons to provide Wi-Fi within residential developments and chief amongst these is the fact that shared connectivity is extremely affordable.