Ten Essential Guidelines of Bulk Internet Access for Student Housing Management Part One

Ten Essential Guidelines of Bulk Internet Services

Delivering bulk high-speed Internet access to a student community is often a science, not an art. In Part one of this discussion, consider these five essential student housing management guidelines to make sure you ace your service coverage at your student properties.

1. Ethernet

For most Class A and B purpose-built student communities, Ethernet is the primary platform for delivering high-speed Internet access. Ethernet continues to be the most cost-effective way to deliver both wired and wireless access and enables a provider to deliver the same user experience with less bandwidth and less expense than traditional residential technologies.

2. Network Management

The greater network management expertise provided through an Ethernet platform enables providers to deliver a better user experience more efficiently than when using other platforms. After deciding which platform to use, the network management expertise is the most important determinant of service quality and cost of your Internet services.

3. Bandwidth per Bed

Too often, property owners focus only on the total bandwidth connection to the site, which, admittedly, makes it easier to compare communities. However, student property owners, developers, and operators who lease by the bed should also focus on bandwidth by the bed when negotiating with providers. Beware: this is not as easy as it sounds, and providers are often reluctant to guarantee per-user Internet speeds.

4. Annual Bandwidth Increases

A decade ago, the highest-end student living communities may have offered 1 Mbps of Internet speed per bed. Today, the newest developments include 10 Mbps or even higher per bed. So, owners and operators need to budget and address annual bandwidth increases in their service contracts. The bandwidth needed to support a constant speed per bed changes over time, and reflects not only the demand for higher maximum/average speed per bed, but also a demand for more continuous usage. Online behavioral changes and the evolution of media will affect Internet usage in the future so don’t forget this potential additional cost when negotiating your long-term contracts.

5. Wi-Fi (but not ONLY Wi-Fi)

Supplemental Wi-Fi has been a mainstay in any new development built in the last 10 years. For every wired device used by students, there are multiple wireless devices in use as well. For student-housing developments, the additional cost of a reliable Wi-Fi solution is often nearly $100 per bed—a pretty reasonable cost to ensure students can always get online and achieve speeds they expect. However, properties shouldn’t rely on Wi-Fi alone. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi service can be fickle, the standards are short lived, and equipment is expensive. Some of the most common problems with Wi-Fi connections are caused by residents’ equipment not working or creating interference. For these and other reasons, relying on Wi-Fi alone is not a wise strategy for owners who want to meet residents’ expectations for Internet speeds and access.

Check back tomorrow as I continue the discussion on what is essential to delivering bulk high-speed Internet access to your student housing communities.


Vice President, Technology Services, RealPage
henry.pye@realpage.com

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Henry Pye is vice president, Technology Services. His team provides advisory services related to voice, video and data services, access control, audio-video and lifestyle technologies, and other low voltage amenities to multifamily developments, acquisitions, and existing communities. Henry has managed resident technology services for hundreds of communities in the U.S. and Canada. Previously, he led the JPI Resident Solutions team providing expertise and advice internally to JPI and third-party multifamily owners. Prior to that, he worked in JPI’s Luxury Multifamily Development, Luxury Multifamily Acquisitions, Student Living Development, Student Living Acquisitions, Market Research, Project Finance, and Information Services departments. Henry authors the “Owners Corner” series for Broadband Properties Magazine and co-chairs the Multifamily Education Series for the Broadband Properties Summit. He has authored numerous articles and is active in industry organizations and conferences. In 2002 and 2006, Broadband Properties Magazine included him in its quadrennial listing of the Most Influential People in Real Estate & Technology. Henry graduated with a Master of Business Administration degree from the SMU Cox School of Business and a Juris Doctor degree from the SMU Dedman School of Law in 1997.

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