Apartment WIFI How-To (So Far)

Case Studies and Lessons Learned by MAPC through the Mass Broadband Institute Gateway City WiFi Fund

Thank you's!

MassUp Coalition

Path to Apartment WiFi Overview

About Apartment WiFi

Procuring Service

Working with an IT Contractor

Hurdles: Financial & Administrative

Support Programming

Q&A

Site Selection

About Apartment WiFi

In America's most unconnected communities, where 38% of households do not have home broadband, 20-25% of the digital divide is concentrated in multi-dwelling units.

- Education Superhighway

In Massachusetts, there are about 225,000 households that do not have an internet subscription.

Key Opportunity:

Local Housing Authorities

240 Housing Authorities in Massachusetts

 

About 90,000 units of low income housing for families, seniors, and persons with disabilities.

Free Apartment WiFi Model:

1 very high-speed internet connection supports an entire building

 

WiFi Hot Spots or “Access Points” in common areas are linked to connection.

 

Residents can access free, high-speed internet, without subscription.

Benefits:

Eliminate barriers to signing up for internet subscriptions or subsidies.

 

Save residents money.

 

Create infrastructure that can be expanded upon.

Source: Education Superhighway, No Home Left Offline. 2021.

How We Selected Sites

Key to our work so far

  • Housing authority administrators,

  • IT Directors,

  • Facilities Managers,

  • Community Outreach Coordinators,

  • Executive Directors.

Leverage existing connections or research who will be important persons at the housing authority and municipal government who can support your project. 

Find Your Champions

Building Typology and layout

Resident Demographics

Number of Units

Available Public Assets and Infrastructure

Synergistic digital device and literacy programs

Factors to Evaluate:

Factors to Evaluate Data

Conduct an Initial Site Visit

Catalogue existing equipment and assets and make connections

Cable/Fiber in utility closet

Rooftop telecom equipment

Telephone poles On site

Conduct an Initial Site Visit

As well as community spaces, public areas, and other social assets

Apartment WiFi Test Cases

Chelsea

Prattville Site

120 Units Family Housing

Everett

Glendale Tower Site

120 Units Senior/Disabled Housing

Revere

Rose Pomona Site

200 Units Family Housing

Apartment WiFi Test Cases

Chelsea

Prattville Site

120 Units Family Housing

Revere

Rose Pomona Site

200 Units Family Housing

Everett

Glendale Tower Site

120 Units Senior/Disabled Housing

How We Are Procuring Internet Service

With sites selected, we leveraged the Massachusetts Operational Services Division ITT72 Statewide Contract for pre-approved commercial ISP vendors.

Leveraged State Contract

Speed of Service = Number of Households X Desired Service Levels

So...

25 mps upload & download  X  100 Households    =  2.5 gps Speed

Network administrators can always upgrade speed once ISP fiber/fixed wireless infrastructure is in place.

But!

That assumes maximum use of internet by all users at any given time.

How much internet do you need?

The rough estimate:

Anticipated Internet Use At Our Selected Sites

Network administrators can always upgrade speed once ISP fiber/fixed wireless infrastructure is in place.

Speed of Service = Number of Households X Desired Service Levels

The rough estimate:

MAPC plans to use a 1 Gps speed package for each of the three selected sites.

We received two quotes from vendors who can serve the properties, costs ranged from $1,250 - $1,500 per month.

Anticipated Internet Use At Our Selected Sites

Lessons Learned for Negotiating Service Contracts: 

  • ISP assume installation costs
  • Share competition's quotes
  • Request multiyear contracts
  • Provide ISP's access to infrastructure (rooftops)

Key Decision Point:

Outreach and Community Support/Inclusion

Text

Family Housing Outreach - Chelsea/Revere

Senior Housing Outreach - Everett

Senior Housing Outreach - Everett

Steps for working with IT Contractors 

Existing IT service provider for Housing Authority, municipality or landlord

 

State Contract ITC73

 

Wireless Broadband Alliance, Google

1. Identified an IT Contractor

Budget Parameters 

Floor plans, existing infrastructure

Site assets identified in earlier phases.

2. We prepared the following information for them:

3. IT Vendor Walkthrough

This step could be consolidated with our earlier walkthrough. We connected IT Vendor with Housing Authority Administrators to schedule a site survey/walk through.

Draft WiFi Heatmap

Chelsea Prattville, Stairwell Access Points and In-Unit Repeaters

Financial Sustainability

Oversight Approvals

Contracts

Hurdles

Biggest Challenge: Ongoing financial commitment to support internet service, maintenance, and any software subscriptions needed to support equipment (OPEX).

 

The municipality may be the best entity to support ongoing service costs.

Financial Commitments

After determining who will be responsible for the ongoing financial commitments, the housing authority board must approve the project in order to move forward.

 

Housing authorities have boards appointed by the city council or municipal executive. 

Board Approval

Service Level Agreements: dictate the network uptime, speeds, response times and responsibilities for maintenance (IT Vendor contract)

Contracts

Network Ownership: The owner of the network may dictate other uses for the network—advertising, data offloading, and ability to resell the network.

Liability: The owner of the network will also take on liability, setting Terms of Service and assuming responsibility for network safety.

Evaluation and Adoption

After network deployment, encourage adoption by:

  • Digital literacy training
  • Resource sharing
    • workforce development
    • tech education
    • community organizing

Similarly, an evaluation plan should be put in place to monitor network usage, adoption, user experience and other criteria. 

*Consider installing a network splash page that shares community resources

Evaluation and Adoption

Apartment WIFI How-to

By MAPC

Apartment WIFI How-to

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