Broadband Communities

OCT 2018

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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MDU INDUSTRY ANALYSIS 2 4 | B R O A D B A N D C O M M U N I T I E S | w w w. b r o a d b a n d c o m m u n i t i e s . c o m | O C T O B E R 2 0 1 8 MDUs Continue to Outpace Pre-Recession Totals Construction of multiple-dwelling-unit apartments has surpassed pre-recession levels on a sustained basis. But only about half of new MDUs have fiber broadband. By Steven S. Ross / Broadband Communities N ew apartment buildings have always been the sweet spot for broadband network deployments, and that's especially true today. More than 300,000 new, privately developed apartments have been started in the United States each year since 2014. is year is on track for 365,000 to 395,000 starts. at rate for large multiple-dwelling-unit properties (MDUs) far exceeds the pre-recession peak and is well over last year's 347,000, even though construction of single-family homes has not fully recovered from the recession years. All but about 12,000 MDU units per year are in buildings with five or more units. e Bureau of the Census does not report detailed data at the city level for housing starts but does report them for permits issued (see table on p. 26). For the first seven months of 2018, 34 percent of all housing starts in the roughly 400 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) were for housing units in MDU structures that contain at least five units, with an average building size of 34 units. For the 45 MSAs that reported permits for at least 1,000 MDU units, 42 percent were for units in MDUs with at least five units. Average building size was 30 units. ese new MDUs are indeed all getting broadband networks and for good reason. As researcher Michael Render reports in this issue (see p. 18), broadband is the most sought- after amenity among apartment renters and prospective condo buyers. However, at least half of new MDUs are still built with copper broadband infrastructure rather than far more robust fiber-based systems that take up less building space for equipment rooms and risers, and usually cost less to deploy in the first place. WHY BUILDERS DON'T USE FIBER With gigabit internet service becoming the norm and 10 gigabit on the horizon, builders should look beyond their "old, reliable" low-voltage wiring contractors for contractors who can supply the latest technologies. But many builders I talk to say they are not doing so because • ey have copper in older buildings and believe (incorrectly) that in-building staff would have to be massively retrained for fiber. • ey have been told that copper offers more flexibility for multiple providers to share wiring. (is is no longer true; cable companies and telcos now deploy, share and use fiber where they legally can, because fiber uses Ethernet protocols common to all broadband networks.) • ey listen to contractors who are more used to copper and have had trouble bringing new and existing staff up to speed on fiber. • ey worry that fiber cannot be procured quickly (which can be true for citywide builds but generally is not an issue for MDU builds). • ey believe wireless will handle all demand. (Wireless has limitations on how many users can share at a time, and wireless requires fiber connections to the internet.)

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