Community WiFi/Parks study finds only 1% of renters like their internet service

Nov. 2, 2023
The new research report found that the demand for a better Wi-Fi and broadband experience in the rental market is rising.

SmartRent, a provider of smart home and property operations solutions for the rental housing industry, found in a new study that the rental sector is falling short of customer expectations for reliable Wi-Fi broadband service.

In its research report, “Community WiFi: A Tactical Guide for the Multifamily Market,” which was conducted by Parks Associates, it revealed an opportunity for communities to differentiate themselves and create a competitive advantage through superior connectivity.

Research data revealed that only 1% of renters have the freedom to roam their apartment communities with uninterrupted Wi-Fi service, despite 79% sharing that they have an interest in seamless connectivity. Among market-rate renters, 48% reported a willingness to pay $79.99 monthly for a gigabit Wi-Fi service.

The report also found that managed Wi-Fi can increase net promoter scores (NPS). Compared to properties with traditional retail internet, modern managed Wi-Fi offers a 26-point boost to apartment net promoter scores (NPS) — a measure of resident satisfaction and willingness to recommend their residential community. Communities with modern managed Wi-Fi see a 33-point NPS improvement over communities with legacy Wi-Fi (single access point for multiple units).

“As an industry, rental housing is falling short of renters’ Wi-Fi needs and expectations and those demands will only continue to grow,” said Lucas Haldeman, CEO of SmartRent. “Renters not only need reliable service but the flexibility to move about their communities without losing connectivity. Many people now have flexible jobs, but their apartment communities aren’t supporting that flexibility and catering to that lifestyle. Renters need full-time connectivity that follows them wherever they go, and it is up to operators to meet that demand.”

The report includes insights from 2,000 apartment residents in the United States and 12 technology leaders in the multifamily housing market. Highlights include the importance of Wi-Fi service selection, renter preferences, insights from operators and opportunities to create operational efficiencies via Community WiFi.

Some multifamily property managers and owners are stepping up to enhance Wi-Fi coverage.

“As we’re rolling the technology out through our properties, from security cameras to EV chargers, we need connectivity across the board for systems to talk,” said the VP of technology services for a top 10 multifamily REIT interviewed for the report. “While deploying solutions, we bring connectivity from corner to corner in a property. It makes sense to make the network available for residents and make their connectivity consistent from in-unit through all amenity spaces, using the same network without needing to connect to a different guest network. It’s a win-win for both [residents and owners].”