As the telecom marketplace becomes more complex with diverse product offerings and business models, service provider proposals have become increasingly complex. To help multifamily property owners streamline the process, RealtyCom Partners has compiled some tips to keep in mind when evaluating and comparing service providers. 

1. Have a clearly defined vision
To begin, know what you are looking for. Are you looking for service providers that provide a retail (resident paid) or bulk (owner paid) program? Do you want property-wide Managed Wi-Fi or a more traditional common area coverage? Will you need to leverage the service provider’s network for smart apartment devices or can your smart tech function independently? These are just a few things you’ll need to consider.

From the beginning, having a global perspective on your property’s needs will help you evaluate options and ultimately select the right provider for the asset. 

2. Define the service you need
When it comes to service, it’s best to have a clear picture of what you are expecting from a provider. Does the provider have a good reputation for providing reliable service? Do they offer various package options with different speed tiers and pricing? Do they offer television, phone, or wireless cellular services that residents may want to bundle to reduce costs? Are they prepared to scale as gigabit demand continues to grow? Do they historically meet construction and activation timelines? And what about support—does the service provider have in-house customer and tech support, or do they outsource customer service, installations, and maintenance to third parties?

Working with a service provider whose standards and values align with your own helps set the tone and manage expectations.

3. Know what technology you need
Depending on the technology they utilize, some providers may have limits on the types of properties they can serve (new construction “greenfield” vs. existing “brownfield” communities, garden style vs. mid-rise or high-rise buildings, etc.) Does the provider deliver service through traditional platforms like HFC/DOCSIS (cable companies) or FTTU (cable companies & LECs), or do they utilize other technology like fixed wireless (millimeter wave)? Do they lease bandwidth and rely on existing property wiring?

Knowing the scope of your project and the kinds of technology you will need will allow you to evaluate how dependable and scalable the provider’s services are. 

4. Prepare for construction
A clear Statement of Work and design plan should be provided and reviewed by the owner prior to signing the contract. This will illustrate how they will service the property, list the infrastructure they will use or install, provide detailed timelines for installation, and outline the work that will happen in residential units so management staff can clearly communicate with residents.

Having a comprehensive plan outlined in advance positions your project for success and limits the possibility of surprises along the way. 

5. Analyze costs and compensation
Before moving forward, it’s essential to evaluate how this new agreement could impact upfront expenses and ongoing operating costs, as well as ancillary revenue streams. Does the provider require the owner to pay for the system upfront, finance over the term, or secure a minimum subscriber threshold or fee per month for the hardware? Will there be additional costs when equipment needs to be upgraded? What equipment is being specified and how often will the equipment need to be upgraded? Are any material or installation costs reimbursable? What incentives are available? Can any current services being paid for by the owner be terminated and provided as part of the new agreement?   

Be sure you get a complete picture of the financial impacts,—both upfront and throughout the project’s lifespan—to understand your return on investment and anticipated income over the term of the agreement. 

There are many things to consider when determining the right service provider to meet your property’s current and future needs. If you’d like more insights or simply don’t have the time to vet and analyze multiple service provider proposals and different business models over many assets, please reach out to RealtyCom Partners. For more than 16 years, we’ve been advocating for our clients, and our talented team is ready to help you navigate your next project.