BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.
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8 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | OCTOBER 2016 BANDWIDTH HAWK T echnology, consumer demand, new cloud services and video content continue to improve the already great business case for ultra-broadband in multiple-dwelling- unit (MDU) communities. e numbers show that the half-million MDU dwelling units built new this year should all include fiber to the unit – that's how good the business case is. e half-million brownfield buildings that get broadband revamps this year – and others, too – should install fiber at least to the curb or basement and take advantage of new technologies that deliver gigabit bandwidth, or close to it, to living units. MDU owners and managers are far behind the curve, however. J.D. Power says, for instance, that consumers – including MDU tenants – want bandwidth-hungry over-the-top streaming services, including services, such as Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, that offer "skinny bundles" of linear video. Nearly two of three respondents to the J.D. Power survey said they had used alternative video services in the previous year, up from 58 percent in 2015. Parks Associates comes up with similar numbers, saying six of every 10 consumers already subscribe to at least one OTT service. According to J.D. Power, three of four consumers who said they intended to cut the cable cord in the next year said they would switch to an alternative video service. Kirk Parsons, who leads the technology, media and telecom practice at J.D. Power, comments, "Customers who have used an alternative video service in the previous year are much more likely than those who haven't used one – 14 versus 4 percent – to cut the cord on TV in the next year." Cellular and broadband carriers have also finally come to an agreement on how LTE (cellular wireless) and Wi-Fi (in- home routers, public Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi used as cellular offload) will cooperate where the right equipment is installed – adding more stress to broadband upload capacity. But most MDUs aren't even close to supporting the bandwidth tenants demand. My conversations with consultants who wire MDUs for broadband suggest that many owners are simply not up on the latest technologies. ey fall back on coax and Cat 5 because that is what they know, and they deploy it in ways that are barely adequate for today's needs, let alone tomorrow's. Too much new technology has arrived too fast for owners to keep up with. It is up to the industry to unleash its training prowess to help owners understand their new options. TECHNOLOGY OPTIONS For example, in a building with good copper and with fiber trunk nearby, an owner should consider G.fast. In a building that is well served by a nearby DOCSIS node, an owner might push providers and private cable operators to install DOCSIS 3.1. In a fiber-poor area, surrounded by competing buildings that have fiber access, millimeter-wave wireless might be a good option. In an MDU that has clean Cat 5 cable with some runs longer than 300 to 400 feet, an owner could consider shortening the longest runs and supplementing the cable with fiber or the latest wireless routers. Major telephone and cable network operators have stepped up their efforts to improve MDU broadband infrastructure. Some private cable operators and many smaller carriers have as well, in large part because supplying bandwidth is generally a higher-margin business than providing cable TV. But owners and managers have to negotiate upgrade paths that ideally end with reliable fiber to the home when needed. Carriers and MDUs must do more than install networks. Educating residents is important, too. An IDC survey found that fewer than a third of respondents took full advantage of their connected devices, including smart home security and energy controls and equipment. Only one in six said they could set up their devices completely, and a quarter believed their connected devices had features they didn't know about. MDU owners who don't keep up with all these changes risk seeing their tenants depart for greener – or better- connected – pastures in the foreseeable future. v Contact the Hawk at firstname.lastname@example.org. Time to Install New MDU Broadband Technologies The Internet of Things is here. Bandwidth demand for over-the-top video has quadrupled in the past few years. Multifamily property owners can catch up at a reasonable cost, but deciding which type of infrastructure to install is not as simple as it used to be. By Steven S. Ross / Broadband Communities