Modern Services for a Historic Building

Developing a listed building involves many challenges, not least the provision of site-wide, super-fast WiFi. At John Bell House in Belfast, Fresh Student Living and Curlew Student Trust partnered with ASK4 to deliver first class infrastructure in a first class setting.

The Building

An iconic Grade 2 listed building on College Square East, John Bell House, was transformed to offer Belfast students unique accommodation from September 2016. The building provides a mixture of en-suite shared apartments and studios for those studying at Queen’s University and the University of Ulster. There are also a number of impressive social spaces, including the former Grand Hall, and a quiet study space in the oak panelled drawing room.

The accommodation is marketed and managed by Fresh Student Living on behalf of the building owners, Curlew Student Trust.

John Bell House provides 423 students with 100Mbps broadband as standard.

The Challenges

Installing WiFi into a listed building entails certain complexities. For example, the building’s wall construction ranges from brick (in places 1m thick) to modern metal frames and plasterboard. Wall construction and thickness both affect radio signal strength, with thicker denser walls (and floors) resulting in a weaker WiFi signal. The buildings listed original features also posed challenges, particularly in communal spaces, meaning options for the positioning WiFi access points were reduced.

The Solution

Early engagement on the project allowed ASK4 to plan and design the right WiFi solution for the building and its occupants. Without having to wait on building construction, the engineers could gain early access for onsite testing to assess the WiFi attenuation throughout and place WiFi access points in strategic positions.

The Partnership

ASK4 have partnered with Fresh Student Living since their beginning in 2010. Fresh manage over 16,000 beds in more than 50 locations across the UK and Ireland. The partnership will continue as we work closely to ensure that the broadband and WiFi offering is consistent with the exceptional service they seek to provide.

Jane Crouch, Director of Operations at Fresh Student Living commented:

We are pleased to be working with ASK4 on this project as they are able to provide a broadband solution that offers the service we expect for our students at a competitive price. Having worked with ASK4 for the past 8 years we are confident in their ability to deliver on time. With the anticipated growth that Fresh Student Living has planned over the coming years it is important to work with partners who are able to match our forward thinking and demand for increasing standards to meet our customer needs.
PBSA, UKASK4 Limited