Erickson Living Attracts Retirees with Broadband Connectivity

  • Cisco
  • Erickson Connect
  • Noovis
SPRINGFIELD, VA — Erickson Living, a national operator of retirement communities, is making significant investments to install new fiber-optic technology on its residential campuses in response to increased demands for improved Internet, cable TV, telephone and cellular service. The company is deploying a GPON (gigabit passive optical network) system which was designed and installed by Noovis, a GPON integrator, utilizing electronics manufactured by Cisco. Noovis will also serve as project manager. The project’s first phase, which includes a community in Springfield, Va. and three in Maryland, is scheduled to be completed in early 2015. Later phases over the next few years will include similar upgrades nationwide.

The project began after Tom Napoli, vice president of Noovis, sat down with Erickson’s CIO, John Triscoli, to discuss how Erickson Living was planning to meet its future wireless networking needs. “I asked John if he knew of GPON. We discussed that if you were going to pull all of this fiber for DAS [an in-building cellular service] then you might want to look at your overall corporate and residential broadband requirements and leverage the fiber for that as well,” Napoli explained.

Improved Connectivity Facilitates a Higher Quality of Life
“Our new infrastructure supports real-time video interactions between residents and their families. This promotes wellness and peace of mind for all involved,” said Hans Keller, VP of IT operations and customer support for Erickson Living. “We have long been dedicated to providing a comprehensive set of services directly to our residents,” said Keller. “Under our latest initiative, Erickson Connect, we connect all of their devices and furnish a working phone number on day one as part of their move-in experience.”

“Fortunately, the components required to distribute data across fiber networks have come down in price over the past few years, making new networks financially feasible. We can now provide superior services to our residents at below-market prices that still allow us to pay back the initial outlay plus save enough money for a seven-year refresh on technology,” said Keller.

Connectivity as a Competitive Advantage in the Senior Living Market
Connectivity is becoming a priority among seniors. In April 2012, the Pew Research Center found for the first time that more than half of older adults (defined as those ages 65 or older) were Internet users. One year later, 59 percent of seniors reported that they go online — a six-percentage point increase in the course of a year. In addition, 77 percent of older adults reported that they had a cell phone, up from 69 percent in April 2012.

Although GPON technology has been around for decades, new applications are beginning to leverage it, particularly in high-density user environments like retirement communities, where legacy networks are insufficient for modern, broadband requirements. Erickson Living knows based on its market research that prospective residents will be attracted by a winning combination of better service and lower costs.

After thoroughly researching the diversity of applications, Erickson Living realized the value from both a business operations and consumer perspective. “You might be surprised by how tech-savvy some of our residents are," said Keller. "A lot of them put network speed and data security and protection high on their lists of amenities as they pick a place to live. We believe we are setting the standard in senior housing. There is a misconception that all Wi-Fi is created equal. Some of our competitors have Wi-Fi everywhere, however it is more like the guest Wi-Fi at Starbucks or an airport. Our new networks allow all devices – printers, tablets, whatever – to connect up anywhere on campus to an incredibly fast system with medical-grade, HIPAA- compliant security.”

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