Addressing growth in the demand of internet for construction sites.
As the demand for integrated technology used in managing projects has risen, the demand for better construction site connectivity solutions has increased. ConstructEdge has been a leader for over 20 years specializing in internet solutions for construction sites. Through our work on various jobsites, the team has become adept at problem-solving connectivity pain points.
In fact, the market has reached a tipping point where a majority of project owners on large civil, infrastructure, renewable energy, and even high-rise projects are requiring the use of technology to manage projects. However, jobsites come with a multitude of challenges when it comes to acquiring internet service.
Barriers to getting internet on construction sites.
The challenges in getting an internet connection for construction sites come early and often. To begin with, many construction sites lack a physical address and are simply designated by latitude / longitude coordinates. This can make ordering installation from traditional internet service providers (ISPs) impossible because they require a physical address for the contract. As ConstructEdge VP, David Smigel puts it, “residential internet doesn’t work, which is a common misconception across the industry.”
Another challenge that comes with traditional ISPs is timing. In many instances, the project manager has the initial trailer dropping on the jobsite with as little as a few weeks in lead time. This is a problem when traditional ISPs may not be able to establish a connection for 60-90 days. In this instance, temporary cellular networks can be a solution.
Further challenges are presented when there is no infrastructure available for traditional ISPs. The costs associated with trenching long distances to install underground cable are prohibitive and may not even be possible on evolving jobsites. Where the ISPs are unwilling or unable to go, ConstructEdge may be able to provide an alternative connectivity method.
A fourth barrier is that pricing can change after a Site Survey is complete. ISPs are known for contractual nightmares. Often the Project Manager may ask an ISP for a site survey and when the survey fails, they find that the internet solution they’d hoped for isn’t possible. This is problematic because many internet providers won’t perform a survey until you sign a contract. As soon as the complexities associated with a construction site arise, it is common for pricing to change.
Architecting internet solutions for construction sites
Before you begin designing an internet solution for your next construction site, it is important to ask some basic questions. This will help determine what sort of a solution is feasible, and how the jobsite network will change as the project moves through the different phases of construction.
- What is your budget? Who will be responsible for the cost (project owner or general contractor)?
- What does your timing look like? Did you do any pre-work? Has the trailer dropped yet?
- Is a temporary internet solution required?
- Who will coordinate the internet solution (project manager, corporate IT)?
- Determine network speeds. Are BIM, reality capture, or other data-intensive technology being used on the project?
- How will you ensure redundancy, and what is your backup plan?
- Who will provide technical support?
Getting Internet for construction sites
In our article, How do you get Wi-Fi on a construction site?, we lay out detailed steps to get internet for construction sites. This includes starting with a feasibility study, setting up the trailer, on-site installation of construction Wi-Fi solutions, allocating resources to manage the network, and warehousing networking equipment.
Because construction projects are not static, it may be best to envision getting internet for construction sites as a process. As construction moves from dirt work to foundation, structural, and interior finish work, the network will evolve. For instance, as dirt work begins, a temporary internet solution can provide the trailer with a signal. When work expands across a larger area, connectivity for teams in the field may be supported with additional access points. Then, as the project wraps up, network equipment gets decommissioned and stored for use on the next project.
To simplify the process, it is useful to gain some familiarity with several terms gaining popularity in solutions designed to provide internet for construction sites. Here are several terms you need to know:
Last Mile Services
Many jobsites are remote and hard to reach. Last Mile Services get internet from the closest existing source to your exact project location. This may involve temporary cellular networks and microwave line-of-sight technologies.
Trailer connectivity refers to establishing the initial connection at the trailer and can include installing equipment, management of IT assets, and 24/7 network monitoring.
One of the most important aspects of providing internet for construction sites involves extending the network coverage across the field of work. This can be done with hybrid mesh networks, managed access points, and customized connectivity kits that scale with the project.
Private Jobsite LTE™
Private cellular networks use the LTE spectrum and are designed to work across a wide range of frequency bands (450 MHz up to 3.8GHz) referred to as E-UTRA. The 4G LTE version of this technology can support two modes of communication, FDD (Frequency Division Duplex) and TDD (Time Division Duplex). Both run on Citizen Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) and offer a step up in functionality for jobsite internet. The primary benefits are improved security, longer signal ranges, and greater data capacity. In the construction space, LTE networks provide interoperability across multiple devices like motion sensors and security cameras.
Additional resources to help you get started.
ConstructEdge has built custom jobsite connectivity solutions for some of the largest contractors on the globe. Our expertise ranges from data centers to transportation infrastructure and renewable energy projects and beyond. For more information on how to get started, check out the IT Leader’s Guide to Budgeting for Jobsite Networks and White Glove Jobsite Connectivity Services.