Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) Xfinity Communities unit had a "great year" in 2019 with tens of thousands of multifamily properties embracing its holistic multiple dwelling unit (MDU) technology, said Adrian Adriano, VP of strategic initiatives, adding that on campus, Xfinity Communities is serving hundreds of thousands of students with its IP video product.
Last year, the company strengthened its managed WiFi product by acquiring Epproach, introduced WiFi Ready (pre-installed in-unit wireless modems), announced the adoption of its Smart Communities platform by Kass Management and the Wyatt FOCO, and built off-campus student housing momentum with Managed WiFi via Vantage.
"Looking ahead, we will continue to advance our offerings to meet the unique needs of our partners and their residents while offering unparalleled personalized customer service and the latest in smart community and connectivity technologies," Adriano said.
Xfinity released two surveys last year as well, "Products & Amenities Research" and "The State of Smart Technology in the Multifamily Housing Industry." According to the results, respondents of all ages said Internet speed is the most important amenity a property could offer, with technology being the most important factor overall. They ranked it above gyms, clubhouses, outdoor spaces, common areas and even quality of area schools.
About 53% of those in the 26-35 age group said they were interested in smart solutions, including the ability to control locks, thermostats and lighting. More than 70% of owners, developers and property managers said smart tech is the way of the future, good for the community's bottom line and makes the organization's job easier.
Xfinity Communities continues to talk with the three pillars, Adriano said - owners, leasing staff and residents. For owners, marketability is key along with reliable speeds, network quality, and ROI. Property staff are concerned with how to make their job easier; smart locks are an example as they allow the units to be unlocked from an app. And as for residents, the discussion is around speed, availability of different versions of Internet access, the convenience of WiFi ready and whether they prefer a set-top box or IPTV. Of course, smart technology is also on the table.
"A lot of folks in MDUs fall in the millennial category. With a smart thermostat they can reduce energy consumption," Adriano said. "They want to make sure they are getting the convenience of an app on their phone. How can we help them reduce costs with technology?"
Customer service also continues to be a piece to the puzzle, Adriano said. "We are not forgetting the human side of all this. It's great to have technology, but let's not forget service …. There is a (training component). Who will replace thermostats, who will train residents on how they work? The face-to-face interaction should not be forgotten."