Why internet in apartment complexes so bad is a complicated question so here are some explanations.
Can A Multifamily Internet System With WiFi Installation Be The Ticket?
An Educational Series for Apartment Owners Part 1 – Modem Service
A busy, always connected lifestyle demands the Internet. So much so the FCC, in a 2016 ruling, deemed the Internet a utility and it will be regulated as such. Regardless of government policy, the fact remains, access and experience are extremely important to consumers. Internet, as a utility, is an important distinction in today’s marketplace. Most Internet users experience a “Dirty City Water” Internet experience because its poorly maintained and rarely managed by monopolistic Internet Service providers (ISPs ) leaving a bad taste in the consumers mouth. Most agree the Industry needs improving; just as there are quality options for drinking water in the market, there are quality options for Internet. A “Glacier Water” Internet experience stands apart from typical Internet offerings for the residents, simultaneously generating revenue, increasing brand loyalty and maximizing retention for an apartment owner.
Comparing “Dirty City Water” to “Crystal Clean Glacier Water” is like comparing best-effort Cable Modem or DSL services (a.k.a. Modem Service) to a professionally managed, highly reliable, Fiber Backed Property-Wide WiFi service (a.k.a. Pure Internet). When a network is installed and managed correctly, the true essence of “Pure Internet” can be achieved; if not, the likely experience is the status-quo (or worse) that plagues American Internet services today. Most have always known they’re paying too much for an inconsistent, inferior service and it ‘s no secret Big Box Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are often ranked last in customer surveys. What’s not as intuitive is why.
4 Pillars of Slow Internet
Internet Speeds – Pillar 1
Calculating Internet speeds are often misunderstood by consumers. The industry has done a fabulous job of masking what’s important in achieving true speeds and a pure Internet experience. But why is interest in apartment complexes so bad?
A) Internet Speeds: Bad news! Buying more Mbps (Megabits per Second) seemed the answer to faster Internet speeds but that’s not exactly true. Purchasing more Mbps buys capacity not speed. Speed, how we comprehend it, is perceived in distance; like with miles per hour (MPH). Contrary to most beliefs, Internet speed is more accurately expressed as latency. Lower the latency, increase webpage load times. Isn’t that what we are looking for?
Picture the Internet like a freeway; purchasing more Mbps buys you more lanes not a higher speed limit. Unknown by most, your lanes still move at the speed of your latency regardless of how many lanes you buy. Latency is something most ISP’s won’t discuss. They cannot control, manage or sell lower latencies effectively; instead they sell you more slow lanes of capacity. What’s important to note here, and this confuses a lot of people, is that your internet isn’t any faster from 1 Mbps to 5 Mbps, or however much bandwidth your connection has. Your data is just transferred to you at a faster rate because more data can be sent at the same time. It’s more efficient, making your internet perceptually faster, not technically faster.
Your true Internet speed is the relationship between bandwidth (how much) and latency (how fast); not just bandwidth alone.
B) Over subscription: Modem Services are notorious for over-subscription ratios that routinely surpass 100 to 1. Meaning, 100 people are sharing the same allocation of bandwidth on the same internet pipe. There’s nothing inherently wrong with oversubscribing bandwidth; most people aren’t fully utilizing their bandwidth. Further, it increases the cost efficiencies of a network. However, when over subscriptions are high, it causes peak period slow-downs for end-users. One hundred (100) households with 5 devices or more, all sharing the same internet pipe, is simply too much.
C) Symmetrical Speeds: Many forms of Internet, namely modem services, have asymmetrical speeds. This means higher downloads speeds than upload speeds. It’s common to see a 10-to-1 ratio. This can be a problem for live communication applications; like video streaming (e.g. Skype), VoIP or chat. If you are... running any real-time applications like Microsoft Office365, VPN, VoIP, video conferencing, web conferencing, and/or you have a need for large file transfers, you will benefit from high speeds in both directions.Read more about this here. A growing number of businesses facilitate remote work from home. Hence, the virtual work force is rapidly growing; it’s imaginable to see a majority of the workforce working remotely in the future.
D) Privacy: Make no mistake your Internet habits are being monitored, recorded and stored. With recent Internet laws being passed, it’s now legal for ISPs to collect and sell ALL of your browser history and other relevant data. IT professionals can dodge this; however, for the rest of us, prepare to share your online habits with your ISP.
Managed Internet & Support – Pillar 2
A) Dirty Data: Modem services are a WIDE OPEN pipe from the Internet to your home. This means that hackers have the ability to penetrate your network; the only obstacle is your $60 router from Best Buy, configured and managed by you. The average Joe is expected to configure their router in an attempt to protect against these professional hackers. Managing a network at this level is not for the faint at heart, yet we have been relegated to figuring-it-out. Millions of Americans are on-their-own which creates legitimate risks and concerns.
B) Customer Support: Unfortunately support from most Big Box companies only exists to maintain THEIR wiring and equipment. If they confirm it’s not THEIR fault, you’re on your own. In some cases, you may find they offer expensive network support to help guide you through the perils. However, most ISPs simply confirm the signal to your modem and don’t support it further. A perfect storm of bad equipment, bad wiring, monopolistic attitudes and profit-first philosophies fuel this lackluster and inept support experience. In the end, customer support falls short of par for most ISPs. Without competition, there’s no incentive for internet providers to improve infrastructure. These massive telecom companies create a bottleneck in the last mile of service by refusing to upgrade critical infrastructure. And they can charge exorbitant prices for the sub-par service while they’re at it.
C) Best Effort Service: Unfortunately, most Americans are relegated to “Dirty City Water” because they have “best effort” modem service as their primary residential connection. Somehow the industry has thrived by offering lowest-common-dominator-services. They even named it similarly, Best Effort. The ISP is saying they will try their best to provide what you paid for. Only, there are no Internet-quality-police to hold them accountable. Worst yet, there’s often a monopoly or duopoly which creates very little incentive to improve quality of service and customer support. That’s why the industry’s biggest providers are routinely voted the most hated in the U.S.
D) Security: You are on your own in terms of security. Relying on virus protection or your operating systems firewalls can certainly help stop certain types of online threats. However, you are still in grave danger from hackers. Without professional management the network is left with a Mom and Pop security environment that lamely attempts to thwart determined threats.
A study by CNET.com stated …
all 14 top home routers had critical security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by a remote adversary and could lead to unauthorized remote control of the router.
Wifi Design & Configuration – Pillar 3
A) WiFi Installation & Design: In a small space it may appear like WiFi design doesn’t really matter and there isn’t enough square footage to cause coverage issues, right? Not exactly, the WiFi radio frequencies (RF) from neighboring routers are all fighting for the same limited air space, with zero synergy. This is compounded in a multifamily environment; more WiFi interference means slower connections and decreased security, effectively creating a hodge-podge design that is counter-productive to Pure Internet.
B) Configuration: Configuring a home router may seem intuitive if you know the basics. However, your home network is inherently disadvantaged because of the limited-feature-set found in a home router. They usually don’t include enterprise firewalls, bandwidth shaping, black lists and interference mitigation. The lack of features vastly limits proper security. Even if an enterprise router was used, the weakest link is still the novice home network engineer. A BBC article titled How easy is it to hack a home network? puts novice configurations and home networking blunders into perspective.
I found out just how severely compromised my home network was in a very creepy fashion. I was on the phone when the web-connected camera sitting on the window sill next to me started moving. The lens crept round until it pointed right at me. I knew that the attackers were on the other end watching what I was doing, and potentially, listening to the conversation.
Internet & Wifi Installation – Pillar 4
A) Competition: It’s all about the bottom line, thus your local ISP plans on using their antiquated wiring infrastructure for as long as possible. Most ISPs enjoy monopolistic environments. They won’t ordinarily upgrade unless there are extenuating forces. For example, in Google Fiber territories, local ISPs magically upgraded their fiber infrastructure to compete. Googles expansion has since come to a halt. Google knows if they expand to new cities the local incumbents will simply ramp-up services in that area. Atlanta is the perfect example — 99% of the country is not so fortunate to have a turf war driving down prices and forcing fiber upgrades. With little to no competition there’s no incentive to upgrade wiring and cannibalize profits. Unless something changes, most of America will have to wait for fiber — hunker down and get used to antiquated wiring for decades.
B) Antiquated Delivery: Bandwidth delivered over coaxial or copper wire is outdated, and, by association, the entire delivery process has technological bottlenecks. Your delivery is only as strong as the weakest link. Even with fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), your bottleneck may still be the wiring inside the home, fiber media convertor, router or modem. There are many places the delivery could be bottle necked when dealing with old wiring which is one reason internet is so bad in apartment complexes.
Most of America’s telecommunications infrastructure relies on outdated technology, and it runs over the same copper cables invented by Alexander Graham Bell over 100 years ago. This copper infrastructure made up of twisted pair and coaxial cables was originally designed to carry telephone and video services. The internet wasn’t built to handle streaming video or audio.
C) Over-the-Counter Routers: Most people either rent a modem/router or buy one and, while over-the-counter WiFi equipment is priced to sell, it does not provide premium technology. Bigger living spaces can experience dead spots and most turn to mesh equipment, repeaters or other consumer grade Whole-Home WiFi Solutions. These types of solutions commonly relay the WiFi signal, which slows speeds around 50% per hop.Internet is only as fast as the weakest link. Next to bandwidth, equipment is the most common area that contributes to bad Internet experiences. Underserved/Overpriced The typical Internet connection sucks and is overpriced. The average cost of residential Internet is around $75. Additionally, most pay $10 a month to rent their modem. The cost of Internet is not necessarily more than other utilities but definitely comes with the lowest quality and reliability. It is as essential as running water, but has all the problems of a do-it-your-self environment. Other utilities don’t pose the same dynamics. For most, the water pressure doesn’t drop every time neighbors run a bath. We pay $75+ for an essential utility service; we want the service to work; no headaches or training involved. From an antiquated infrastructure to user-error the entire experience is often a nightmare which is why internet in apartment complexes is so bad.
Next month: Part II How to Fix Slow Internet for Apartment Residents, Generate Revenue and Ditch the Cable Guys With a Multifamily Internet Service
Fiber Stream is a provider of futuristic high speed Internet and TV services. Fiber Stream’s target markets include Apartments, HOA’s, MDU’s, and senior living communities. Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, Fiber Stream is a nationwide Full Service Internet provider, offering Fiber to the Unit (FTTU), Fiber-Backed Property-Wide Wi-Fi, Gigabit Internet, Managed Wi-Fi solutions and IPTV. Fiber Stream developed one of the first Revenue Generating Internet Systems of its kind. For more information visit www.FiberStreamWIFI.com or call 1-888-644-9434.
Photos courtesy of FiberStream