Need for Speed: Internet Access in Multifamily Properties
We’ve come a long way from the days of dial-up modems, AOL free trial disks and bulky desktop computers.
The year 2016 seems almost alien in comparison. Technological advances since the Dot Com era have transformed online access and the Internet into an integral part of everyday life.
For apartment property landlords, enabling a variety of high speed subscription options is not only a sensible strategy to attract amenity-seeking renters, but increasingly as basic as providing water or electricity.
In the broader context, Internet penetration in the United States, as measured by the share of population with some form of online access, has grown rapidly since the turn of the Millennium. As shown below, the number of Internet users more than doubled over the last 16 years to nearly an 88 percent share of the population.
In the multifamily universe, a new data series compiled by the annual American Community Survey (ACS) provides the most comprehensive look yet at the online access choices of renters. As shown below, by 2014 nearly 73 percent of all small building (5 to 49 units) households had some form of online access, of which 67 percent paid for their connection.
The slightly lower rate of paid Internet subscription in large buildings (50+ units) may reflect that the ACS survey includes non-market rate units. As shown below, the type of connection does not vary significantly across small and large properties. The exception may be fiber optic, where larger or more urban buildings may allow for earlier deployment of the needed infrastructure.