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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10 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | MARCH/APRIL 2017 MULTIFAMILY BROADBAND TECHNOLOGY The Pitfalls of Uncontrolled Access Multifamily real estate owners should control access to their buildings, their infrastructure and their residents. Here's why. By Robert Grosz / Multifamily Broadband Council O wners of apartments have a lot to lose. In most U.S. markets, new apartment housing stock is yielding stronger competition for residents. A long-term owner of quality apartments struggles with rising property taxes and insurance rates, the need to find and retain quality property staff, the requirement for capital investments to keep the property relevant and safe, and the looming potential of more expensive money from debt markets. Costs increase without regard to the number of vacant units. To survive and react to changing market forces, owners must control every aspect of their properties – especially critical services such as internet. However, some local governments and technology companies believe apartment owners should have little or no control over how their residents access the internet. ey want regulation that allows a service provider to forcibly take an apartment owner's wiring, negate any contracts in place with existing providers, and market directly to residents without limits. Contrary to that view, the Multifamily Broadband Council argues that removing an owner's incentive to invest in new technology will stifle innovation, create chaos and impact security and affordability. Apartment owners are best positioned to engage in technology investments by incurring the capital risk of fiber optics and structured wiring and realizing the returns associated with internet services and the emerging connected- device economy. Recent regulation in the city of San Francisco reduces these owners' incentives in favor of uncertain motivations of service providers that have much less to lose. e proponents of the regulation believe it's the best way to create a competitive broadband utopia, in which many service providers can compete for the finite number of residents/customers in a building. However, on closer examination, some problems with this theory emerge. SERVICE INTERRUPTIONS/POOR SERVICE Allowing multiple technicians competing for fiber or cabling to deliver internet service to subscribers living in close proximity to one another will result in mistakes. Technicians who make mistakes and disrupt their competitors are prone to ignore, hide or deny their mistakes. Who's responsible for fixing these issues? A building owner that has no control over this aspect of the property will have little ability or leverage to intervene and resolve these issues. Competitors will point fingers, and customers will be left with poorer service than if an owner can contractually hold operators accountable for their actions. LIFE SAFETY, SECURITY AND HOUSING AFFORDABILITY In the competitive utopia, owners will have to give many providers access to communication rooms, wiring, risers, rooftops, hallways and electrical systems. ese apartment owners will either have little control over who accesses their properties and when or have to spend more on security systems and staff to further secure this aspect of their properties. is will either create less safe environments or push rents higher, reducing housing affordability. REDLINING OR CHERRY-PICKING Quality service providers will invest only in the apartment communities they deem worth their time and money. ese targeted communities typically house wealthier or more Uncontrolled access to building infrastructure may encourage service providers to cherry-pick the most desirable buildings.