Broadband Communities

AUG-SEP 2017

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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AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017 | | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | 39 are reported about a year late by the Census Bureau. e bureau does not break out the number of units in very small MDUs – those with fewer than five units – in the regional data as first reported. Chart 2 shows how much of the MDU market is driven by housing patterns in the South and West, where the rise in MDU construction has been greatest. In Chart 2, also note the odd bump in 2015 MDU starts in the Northeast. Much of that was due to builders' racing to get started before the expiration of a property-tax break in New York City. MDUs, as one might expect, tend to contain fewer units in rural areas, but in rural population centers with fewer than 50,000 people, garden apartments and above-store apartments are not uncommon. ese are easy to provision with broadband as long as the town is well connected to the outside world. However, rural areas in the aggregate have been losing population since 2010. e loss – more than 1 percent of the 42 million people who lived in rural counties that year – produced a surplus of more than 200,000 dwelling units in those counties. It is little wonder small regional and local broadband carriers are moving quickly to take advantage of opportunities new residential construction presents. Local carriers do not usually need the Census Bureau to tell them what is going on in their own communities. National property owners and managers that want to get a handle on trends in specific regions should strengthen their connections to local carriers. I have obtained county-by-county data in some detail and will report on that in future issues. THE FUTURE: SLOW-GROWTH SCENARIO? At this time, immigration policy is in flux, and net immigration appears to be falling – there are more deportations, and fewer immigrants are entering the United States. Prior to the policy change, the Census Bureau estimated that all net population growth in the United States after 2020 would result from immigration. Changing the immigration outlook would, of course, have major implications for housing construction of all kinds. For example, there would be fewer construction jobs, fewer opportunities for broadband deployers, and a smaller economy overall. But the impact would probably be felt most in residential MDU construction, as permanent-resident immigrants tend to follow similar residential patterns as non-immigrants. v Editor-at-large Steve Ross can be reached at

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