I recently returned from the Broadband Communities Summit in Houston, Texas and one of the hot topics was the provisioning of “Bulk Internet Service” and “Managed Wi-Fi”. Although they can be one in the same, there can also be differences between these two terms.…..But for this blog, I will just lump them together and call them all Bulk Internet.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term or concept of “Bulk”, it is when a community purchases a service (in the past it was cable TV, more commonly now, Internet) at, what is considered, a reduced rate for 100% of the units at a property (occupancy is not a factor) and the service is included as part of the rent (or other required fee). Most owners will pass on the cost and add a mark-up to cover the expense and make a few dollars.
High Speed Internet is fast becoming (if not already) another “utility” like electric, water/sewer and natural gas. Many owners are looking at Bulk Internet as a way to provide a new amenity, deliver better internet and cell phone coverage, create the ability to bring in a network to run smart home technology, deliver faster speeds to the resident at a lower cost than a resident can get on their own, and increase the ancillary revenue they generate!
Bulk Internet can be a great choice for many communities, but before you jump into Bulk Internet, there are many things to consider such as:
- Look at what telecom contracts you have in place – Many telecom agreements restrict or prevent you from providing Bulk service (especially from another provider). So you may have to wait until the current telecom agreement(s) expire.
- Consider your resident demographics and potential hurdles you may encounter such as:
- If your community is a senior community – How much hand holding will you need in order to get all your residents using the service?
- If your community is a LIHTC – Is passing on the cost a requirement for you (there is no allowance for internet yet)?
- Do your residents have and/or can they afford to purchase the devices needed to use the internet?
- As a community, do you have needs or wants for the internet service (running property management software, VoIP phone service, common area Wi-Fi, security cameras, smart home/IOT devices, etc.)?
- As the speed keeps increasing and the cost of service goes down – Is there a chance that you will get push back from residents saying the cost you are changing them for the speed is higher than they could get on their own?
- Do your residents prefer choice in providers (they don’t want to be forced to take the provider you selected for them)?
There are many more factors to consider and questions to ask yourself, your team and your residents before you even begin the RFP process, so don’t be afraid to ask someone who has already gone down the Bulk Internet path who can give you their insights (positive and negative). Going in with blinders on is the fastest way to a bad situation/experience for all involved. Do you have any feedback or suggestions to offer? Comment below with your thoughts.