Apartment renters, fiber Internet is already fighting for your money

Apartment renters, fiber Internet is already fighting for your money
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If you live in one of Charlotte’s newest apartment complexes, fiber Internet is going to be a reality sooner rather than later. The two companies who want to provide it to you are now locked in a battle for the rights to accept your money.

Both Google Fiber and AT&T GigaPower are rushing to sign exclusive deals with apartment complexes in the city to string wire into each of its units.

Before long, this super-fast Internet speed will be an amenity marketed alongside salt-water pools and yoga studios.

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For the Internet providers, this strategy makes simple business sense. It’s a heck of a lot easier to bring fiber to 300 people in a single building than wiring 300 separate homes. Apartment complexes also have to ability to mandate the service as part of rental agreements — meaning the Internet companies don’t have to spend as much time convincing everybody to stick with them.

“It’s more bang for their buck economically,” said Alan Fitzpatrick, co-founder of Charlotte Hearts Gigabit.

The actual terms of the deals are unclear, and it’s also unclear how much basic service will cost tenants. But it appears that AT&T is being more aggressive on their terms for apartment complexes to convince them to sign on with them instead of waiting for Google Fiber.

Google is not offering any deals on the $300 per unit installation fee, which is borne by the property management company, said Bryan Holladay, government affairs director of the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association. Some communities under construction today will be offering Google Fiber as an amenity, he said.

In other Google Fiber cities, like Kansas City, basic Internet service is free after the installation fee. That would mean that apartment dwellers would have the option of paying nothing for Internet, and only paying if they wanted faster service or a TV connection.

AT&T has been offering some bulk discount deals and revenue sharing with apartment complexes, Holladay said. They’re also offering to cover some of the installation costs.

For complexes already connected to GigaPower, AT&T is marketing a basic Internet package at $70/month and TV + Internet at $120/month.

Sweet-talking residents

As contractual work goes on behind the scenes, Google and AT&T are also beginning their marketing work among the young professionals who live in the apartments.

Last month, AT&T hosted a breakfast for everyone who lives in the Element Uptown to talk them to signing up for service. The company provided food from Crispy Crepe, a hot cocoa bar and gave away a TV.

Until last week, Google also had a job posting looking for people to sign apartment complexes on to Fiber service. Their efforts have been gaining traction. Google Fiber will be out at the VUE doing an evaluation of the property this week, property manager Hali Eplin said.

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