By:  Rush Blakely

This year, three RealtyCom team members attended the Broadband Communities Summit in The Woodlands, Texas. This annual event is designed for property owners and telecommunication service providers to meet and discuss strategies for delivering connectivity to communities across the country. If you were unable to attend we’ve recapped the most important topics discussed at the summit for you below.

FCC – Potential Regulation of Bulk Billing Agreements
As we alerted our clients in our March newsletter, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under a directive by The White House, is seeking to regulate bulk billing agreements in an effort to lower costs and address lack of choice in multifamily communities.  Many in our industry have been vocal against further regulation including property owners, the National Multifamily Housing Council, and the National Apartment Association. During several sessions at the 2024 Broadband Communities Summit, this topic was passionately discussed. ISP’s and providers agreed that regulation will harm residents and disincentivize investment in broadband services. It was clear that providers are concerned and are prepared to share their perspectives during the comment period following a formal Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which has yet to be released by the FCC as of the writing of this article. 

We heard from a number of people who spoke with current FCC commissioners, staff, and lawmakers who expressed hopeful sentiments that the initial indications were not a ban on these types of arrangements outright, but more likely, an opportunity for residents to opt out of the program, should they desire to do so. There is still much uncertainty about how this could affect on-site operations as well as the related administrative and financial impacts on property owners. RealtyCom Partners will continue to track this issue with the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and other stakeholders and will alert our clients when the proposed ruling is published.  NMHC sent an owner survey to collect data and prepare for the comment period on May 13th.  We encourage you to complete and submit this survey. RealtyCom Partners is available to assist with any data you may need from your existing agreements.  

Managed Wi-Fi  

Managed Wi-Fi has been a key topic at multifamily industry conferences for the past several years. Even with bulk regulation looming, this year was no different. There were several panels focused on how property owners can offer this accessible, cost-effective, and secure “fourth utility” and how to overcome some of the common obstacles. Our very own President and CEO, Rush Blakely participated in the Managed Wi-Fi 101 workshop. While industry veterans agree, that Managed Wi-Fi provides vast improvements in the resident experience (ease of use, ubiquitous property coverage, Wi-Fi calling) and property operations (prop-tech and ESG initiatives, smart apartment features) challenges around funding and project deployment continue to develop. There are many “flavors” of this product that exist today–equipment types, wire usage, and new offerings being developed. If you are considering deploying Managed Wi-Fi in your communities or want to learn more on this topic, feel free to contact us where we can share a wealth of information and research on the matter.

Comcast’s Connected Building Product 

Speaking of new products, Comcast’s Connected Building solution, initially hinted at last year, is expected to roll out as a mainstream product in late 2024. Before we dive into this new product, we’re taking a step back to highlight the rapid evolution of internet delivery over the years (see our article from last year covering the different types of internet and Wi-Fi products offered by providers). There are a number of solutions, including the traditional in-unit modem-based bulk internet that generally has a lower cost of entry than Managed Wi-Fi which utilizes the current wiring with it being the residents’ responsibility for the modem and setting up their in-unit wireless network. In a 200-unit community that means 200+ individual wireless networks that don’t work together and cannot be used by the property owner.  Comcast aims to change that with its Connected Buildings product. 

Initially planned to be a bolt-on to existing modem-based bulk communities and include additional active SSID’s for owners’ use in smart apartment devices, Comcast is currently in deployment and testing with several owners. It is eventually planned as a product that could be bolted onto retail service communities, similar to the Wi-Fi Ready solution that exists today. See Connected Building FAQ’s for more info. 


Overall, the conference was not only educational but offered senior members of our team including Bob Reiss and Mike Miller the opportunity to meet with various service providers and discuss their roadmaps for new and improved products and talk through specific projects and deployments for our clients. The Legal panel is always a highlight, featuring some of our clients’ telecom attorneys’ insights on the industry. Next year’s conference will be held June 23-25, 2025 in Houston, Texas and we hope to see some of you there!