As residents and their guests become more tech savvy, high speed Internet is becoming a necessity in any senior living community. Senior living providers across the country are moving to install guest/resident wireless solutions and dedicated Internet bandwidth to meet the high demands of social and streaming media. For residents with family out of town, a strong Internet connection is vital for staying in touch via social streaming apps such as Skype and FaceTime.
For example, Skype recommends .3 megabits per second (Mbs) for a standard quality video call; that number rises to .5 for high quality and 1.5 Mbps for HD quality. Video services, whether for calling or streaming, are very bandwidth intensive and a few concurrent video sessions can saturate a circuit and degrade network performance if your guest/resident connections are not sized or designed properly.
To ensure a high quality experience for guests, residents and caregivers, incorporate these networking best practices in your facility:
- Secure the guest/resident wireless
To meet best practices and compliance requirements, guest traffic should be separated. Guest traffic can utilize the same enterprise-level network equipment as business traffic, but be configured to be kept safely separated through the use of virtual local area networks (VLANs). Also use a separate wireless ID (SSID) for your guest/resident network and set a password. Open networks with no passwords invite criminals to steal your residents’ bandwidth, or worse!
- Install a dedicated Internet circuit for the guest traffic
A common mistake is to set up a guest network and then allow that traffic to use the same Internet circuit as business traffic. This often results in poor performance for all traffic! With so many applications moving to the cloud, separate Internet circuits are a must to ensure high performance for everyone.
- Don’t skimp on the bandwidth
Today’s Internet applications require a lot of bandwidth and we only see that demand rising. Skype calls can take up to 1.5 Mbps for an HD call, and HD quality with Netflix requires 5 Mbps per session! Luckily, broadband is affordable in most areas and bandwidth up to and exceeding 100 Mbps for download is available.
- Consider subscription-based premium Internet
This is common in hotels today. Free Wi-Fi has limited capacity, but guests who need high speed rates can pay a subscription fee for premium bandwidth and high performance. This addresses the bandwidth usage of high demand applications with a pay-to-play model while generating revenue to offset the infrastructure and bandwidth costs. Residents who don’t subscribe can still enjoy free Internet but the expectation of high performance will not be there, and therefore easily managed.
Having a strong and secure network will keep your employees, residents and guests happy. Employees can quickly and efficiently get work done, and residents can virtually visit with family anytime!