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With New Internet Delivery Options, Does Copper Wiring Still Make Sense?

High-speed internet is more important to renters than in-room laundry facilities, sound-proof walls, or a walk-in closet, according to a survey by the National Multifamily Housing Council. The results reveal that this access is one of the most important amenities renters consider when it comes to selecting where to live.

This is good news for property managers. Renters don’t care how they get connected – they just want service that is fast and reliable. In most cases, your building is probably already equipped with everything needed to give renters not only high-speed internet, but the flexibility and choices they’re looking for when it comes to internet, Wi-Fi, and streaming services.

Renters Want Options

I’m a big believer that competition is key: the ideal scenario is to give tenants options when it comes to choosing internet service, and with copper, this is not only possible, but also simple and cost-effective. Users, property managers, developers (and owners and REITs, too) can see major benefits by promoting competition and choice. In the long run, this usually results in better service and happier tenants.

Copper manufacturers and ISP providers know that if they want to keep up with an internet-hungry world, they’re going to have to come up with some innovations – and we can see this is already happening in the market. Copper is one way you can support your tenants by giving them options to save money, without making costly upgrades and system enhancements to the wiring of your existing units.

Millennials are changing the way they consume TV. Instead of subscribing to a monthly cable subscription, most are streaming shows online from services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu to watch their favorite shows on their phones and iPads. People are just not interested in bundling their phone, cable TV, and internet. And one trend is certain – they are not interested in paying for a cable subscription with channels they’ll never watch. There’s an annual survey called The Couch Potato report which looks at our TV consumption habits. The last report found that the number of cable subscribers is dropping, to the point that one in five U.S. households do not have, or have never had, a cable subscription.

This is a dramatic shift in our long-standing patterns of TV consumption.


Copper’s Hidden Value: Savings & Reliability

Your units are likely already equipped with copper CAT5 or CAT6. In addition to saving on extra wiring costs, these existing copper lines can be enough to give your renters some affordable and appealing choices as they explore the wide variety of options available to help them access the virtual world.

But first, let’s look at some of the major advantages of copper. Copper can carry voice and data signals, but also has the power to operate a standard, non-cordless telephone. In the event of a power outage, your renters will still have access to phones (if they have a landline), and Wireless Access Points (WPAs), as well as any other devices that run through the copper networks.

In addition to already being in place, most service technicians already know how to work with copper, or can be trained to handle it. In the event of service interruptions, you should be able to easily find someone to get the problem resolved fairly quickly and inexpensively.

Copper is Not Slow

CAT6 can support communications at more than twice the speed of CAT5e, allowing for Gigabit Ethernet speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second. We can expect those speeds to get faster as the copper market, driven by competition from fiber cabling, to improve performance and service. One example is the recently approved CAT8, developed by the TR-42.7 Telecommunications Copper Cabling Systems Subcommittee. This will quadruple the capacity for TV, video, satellite, audio, and CCTV. We can also expect to see hybrid copper and wireless solutions, like the one being developed by ThorLabs, that combines electrical and optical signals.

My bottom-line advice for property managers is to ask yourselves, what do your tenants want, and what is the most valuable way to give it to them? Everyone wants access to fast, reliable internet – and using a service provider that utilizes existing copper in innovative new ways is one easy and affordable way to deliver what your tenants want, and keep your units occupied.

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