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Scope

This SPIE examines the MDU experience, and suggests there are good reasons why an MDU customer might be more satisfied. It then examines some opportunities for the network operators to emulate this experience for their MDU customers, and even increase their penetration into the MDU market. This SPIE will be of interest to operators and to MDU owners who wish to do business with them.This SPIE examines the MDU experience, and suggests there are good reasons why an MDU customer might be more satisfied. It then examines some opportunities for the network operators to emulate this experience for their MDU customers, and even increase their penetration into the MDU market. This SPIE will be of interest to operators and to MDU owners who wish to do business with them.

Introduction

Multi-dwelling Units and Consumer Communications: White-labeling the Service Provider

The dynamics of consumer communication services are pretty cut and dried: that is, they are easy to parse into convenient buckets. Voice, video, data and wireless, and now home security/home automation all combine to define easily described and marketed service offerings. Yet, that neat model begins to fray around the edges when the delivery channel is not a clean one from operator to customer. And when the delivery channel is through a property owner to tenants or renters, the model falls completely apart.
Multi-dwelling units (MDUs) insert a third party into the communication service transaction whose objectives are often at odds with both the operator and the customer. The property owner seeks to maximize the return on investment in the property, while the end-user customer seeks to minimize costs and increase service options. The operator also wants to maximize profits, but is often put in the position of trying to minimize customer frustration. Then, there are the contracts.
The industry, for obvious reasons, attempts to keep the details of MDU contracts as secret as possible: after all, disclosing the details will give an advantage to competitors as well as to other MDU owners who wish to negotiate the best deal possible. Yet, without generally accepted contractual baselines, every contract between the operator and an MDU owner is a custom one. The result is that MDUs pose a significant challenge to operators.
One might expect that a customer that deals with an MDU as an agent for the local operator, then, would be less satisfied with the service experience than when the customer deals directly with the operator. Yet, this is not the case: generally MDU tenants are happier with their service. Consequently, MDUs seem to be able to offer a better deal than the operators with whom they contract—a perplexing outcome.
This SPIE examines the MDU experience, and suggests there are good reasons why an MDU customer might be more satisfied. It then examines some opportunities for the network operators to emulate this experience for their MDU customers, and even increase their penetration into the MDU market. This SPIE will be of interest to operators and to MDU owners who wish to do business with them.

Multi-dwelling Units: Increasingly Important

Multi-dwelling units include apartments, condominiums, and other managed communities.2 In many cases, communication facilities are constrained by the physical infrastructure available; for example, a high rise apartment building may not be able to accommodate many providers of broadband service, or satellite dishes on every balcony. As a result, it is often the case that the owner of the building or community will contract with an operator to provide services to all of the units in the development. Tenants are generally given a choice of service packages, but are constrained by the overall service arrangement negotiated between the MDU owner and the service provider.
Such MDU service contracts will likely become more important to a growing percentage of consumers. As Exhibit 1 illustrates, the total apartment occupancy in the United States, after a precipitous dip that occurred after the housing bubble collapse, is on the rise. And with a newer demographic entering the work force, whose focus is not so much on single family detached dwellings, the likelihood of having to deliver communication service to MDUs increases over time.

Table Of Contents

Multi-dwelling Units and Consumer Communications: White-labeling the Service Provider 
Table of Contents

Introduction
Multi-dwelling Units: Increasingly Important
MDUs as Customer Concentrators
Operator Challenges
The MDU as a Connected Home: Implications for Service Management
Stratecast - The Last Word
About Stratecast
About Frost and Sullivan

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