In late 2018, Broadband Communities Magazine released an article with survey results of multifamily residents and found that high-speed, reliable internet was more important to them than having a washer and dryer in-unit, a balcony, a gym, a pool or virtually any other amenity. Now, as millions of Americans continue to telecommute and children prepare for a semester of distance learning, reliable internet access is more important than ever.
“Connectivity was always high on the list of amenities that multifamily residents wanted,” said Michael Janssen, senior sales manager for engineering at CenturyLink. “But now, as COVID-19 has us all relying on our home internet for work, learning and play, it’s surpassed all others.”
Today, residents are looking for more than just high speeds. In the era of social distancing, people want to be their own internet technician, with the ability to start and control their access to internet service with a tap on their wireless phone. Residents also enjoy the option of not having service technicians in their homes to install equipment. The answer, Janssen said, is CenturyLink ON and Instant WiFi.
CenturyLink ON, the company’s instant activation service, enables residents to switch on internet service as soon as they walk in the door to their apartment. With modems and routers already pre-installed in the walls, tenants can simply log in and connect, no need to call a technician or bring someone in to install service. Instant WiFi expands on the CenturyLink ON functionality by adding the ubiquitous, secure, managed WiFi network many consumers are familiar with when using their wireless phone.
According to Janssen, developers are increasingly seeing the benefits of Instant WiFi as a tool to help separate their buildings from the scores of multifamily developments on the market.
Multifamily communities may offer a patchwork of different networks, with a separate network for the units from those that provide WiFi for the lobby, the gym or the co-working space on-site. But Instant WiFi provides a single network throughout the units and entire community, allowing for smooth transitions and no loss of service.
“It’s all about creating a truly connected community,” Janssen said. “With Instant WiFi, a tenant can stay connected to their own private network no matter where they are in a building. They can be working out at the gym, lounging by the pool or working in the lobby and still be connected to their secure, private network.”
He added that not only does CenturyLink offer Instant WiFi, it also owns the network on which it is delivered.
CenturyLink is still in the early days of providing Instant WiFi — the company currently has its instant offerings installed in select buildings, with many more currently under development — but Janssen said that so far, the combination of the ease of access and fast, fiber-driven speeds haven proven to be exactly what owners were looking for to meet tenants’ needs.
“We are pioneers in what we’re doing,” said Jack Villegas, a development associate with The X Co. and a CenturyLink client. “The world is changing, internet use has grown heavily, and traditional solutions aren’t working anymore. We appreciate CenturyLink’s flexibility and willingness to advocate on our behalf to meet the needs of our properties.”
CenturyLink engineers build customized solutions for every property. CenturyLink Fiber service usually includes a 100% fiber-optic network to a residence. But in limited circumstances, CenturyLink may create a solution to deploy alternative technologies coupled with a non-fiber connection from a certain point (usually the curb) to a residence in order to provide the advertised download speeds.
Instant WiFi and fiber internet service are most easily installed in new construction or buildings undergoing major renovations, Janssen said, and some older buildings may be held back by architectural or technology limitations. In these cases, he recommends owners engage the CenturyLink Connected Communities sales team to discuss the alternative technologies CenturyLink has to offer — like G.Fast and G.Hn — that can deliver super-fast speeds without the need to replace or upgrade existing infrastructure.
“We want to make sure tenants always have access to the best possible internet service, regardless of what type of building they are in,” Janssen said. “This is especially important now, when access to fast internet service is more essential than ever.”