Broadband Communities

MAY-JUN 2013

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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PRESIDENT'S LETTER A Seismic Shift The real estate community is listening to the tech-savvy Generation Y – and getting excited about connectivity. A s a member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) who holds a seat on its Community Development Council, I participate in meetings at which leaders in real estate development come together to explore the latest nationwide trends in their industry. At our recent spring meeting in San Diego, Calif., a ULI board member reminded his audience that "nothing in the world of real estate is built without the participation of at least one ULI member." Impressive! For the past four years, however, I have often been frustrated to fnd that real estate leaders either dismissed technology and connectivity as basic utilities, ignored them based on a perception that innovation moved too fast for them to focus, or believed that the somewhat controlled telecommunications industry ofered little opportunity for innovative thinking at a community level. I am happy to report that, at the San Diego meeting, things were very diferent. Te land and community development industry was among the hardest hit over the past fve years. As in many besieged industries, dialogue focused on survivability rather than on innovation and strategies for growth – which made attending ULI meetings a challenging experience. Tis spring, however, ULI, much like the BroadBand Communities Summit a month earlier, was alive with proactive thinking and lively discussion. Much of it focused on strategies to implement technology and connectivity as cornerstones underlying community vitality. It's about time. Tis change is not to be taken lightly. A focus at this level on innovative technology and sustainable broadband planning emphasizes the eforts that property owners and municipal leaders must take to ensure their communities remain relevant by incorporating advanced broadband infrastructure as a foundational element. WhAT ChANgED? Why now at ULI? Recognizing the buying trends of boomers and Gen Y, who now represent more than half the national population, was a key catalyst as ULI members look ahead to future market demands. It is a welcome development. A highlight of the ULI meeting was a session hosted by Richard Florida, a highly infuential urbanist, whose panel included Mayor Sly James of Kansas City, Mo., a 2013 BroadBand Communities Cornerstone awardee. Te discussion focused on technology's ability to capture interest across generations. In addition, Mayor James spoke about how advanced connectivity supports civic engagement by enabling interactive communication among residents and community leaders. In another compelling panel, Jamie Gutfreund of Te Intelligence Group, a marketing research frm, spoke about capturing the attention of what she called "Gen Why." According to Gutfreund, tech-savvy prospective buyers and renters now view connectivity as a top selection criterion. Both "Gen Why" and boomers are looking for low-maintenance living that not only provides the amenities expected in traditional properties but also – and perhaps most signifcant – delivers and connects to the benefts of living in a particular community. How can a multihousing property attract the "Why" generation, whose members are best known for consistently changing their minds, having little or no brand loyalty, being collaborative and wanting to stay constantly connected? Te answer, says Gutfreund, lies in creating an interactive living experience, driven by connectivity, 4 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | that adjusts to continuous demand shifts that now span generations. I have never left a ULI meeting feeling as encouraged as I did at this one. Of course, as we emphasize at BroadBand Communities, advanced connectivity is never defned by wires or technology. It is about applications that drive productivity, entertainment and human interaction. Building broadband for broadband's sake misses the fundamental value that advanced connectivity supports. It also increases the risk of simply chasing customers with a product. To that end, BroadBand Communities works to promote understanding of the true value of connectivity and the importance of making sustainable investments, then reports on how markets are evolving. As my experience at ULI has reinforced, these are truly exciting times in the broadband industry, and, as always, BroadBand Communities is focused on keeping you, your property, and your community on the sweet side of the bell curve! Today's market is a demanding one. Is your community ready? v | May/June 2013 Jefrey M. Reiman

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