The Meridian is made up of three separate towers and 232 apartment units and about 700 beds and Calder Commons of a single tower with 87 apartments and about 261 beds. Both properties are docks plank and concrete construction. The Meridian is about 20 years old and Calder Commons is about 15 years old. Both properties are owned and operated by McKinney Properties out of Pittsburgh, PA.
Both properties were competitive sell buildings and were not offering Internet as an amenity. The internal wiring was just older coax and failing phone (cat-3) infrastructure. Residents were expected to go out and get their own Internet and had a few options but all were not great due to the old infrastructure of the buildings. In today’s competitive student housing environment many other properties were also now including Internet as an amenity. So the ownership was looking to provide high quality internet as an amenity.
The property owner wanted to offer a competitive solution and even though it can be expensive to re-wire or retrofit this type of building, the owner decided they wanted Ethernet ports to every bedroom and the living rooms as well. We came in and installed fiber from our dark fiber ring as a backbone and also millimeter wave multi-gigabit microwave as a backup for redundancy. We ran fiber to each building from our demarc in the main building. Then over the summer break we worked to completely re-wire each apartment. We were able to install one demarcation point in each building and then home run the Cat6 cables from each bedroom and living room to the buildings demarcation point. This allowed there to be a single data closet for each building, which means you have fewer points of failure which is preferable.
We also installed Cat6 Ethernet to the common area study lounges and exercise rooms and installed managed wifi access points there. Each apartment runs on a private area network (PAN), meaning that all of the Ethernet ports in an apartment are on the same VLAN or private but shared network. This allows security from other apartments but allows residents in a unit to share devices such as printers, AppleTVs, IoT devices, etc. Currently residents bring their own routers or rent managed routers from us, which we provide information to them about prior to their arrival at school. We also keep routers available at the on-site property office so if residents want to rent a router they can easily pick on up right on site. Each ethernet port provides 75mb/s and residents can upgrade to faster plans if they want. Fifty percent (50%) of all upgrade fees are revenue shared back to the property to help offset the costs of offering the amenity. The backbone to the property was built with dark fiber and initially provisioned at 10Gb with unlimited upgradability for the future and offering upgrades to residents of up to Gig.
At a property where students and their parents were constantly frustrated about having to go figure out Internet for themselves each year when they got to campus, wait for a technician to come out install it and then deal with service issues on their own has been eliminated. We make sure that residents know before move-in what kinds of routers to buy or rent so that they don’t have to deal with interference issues and they have all of the details to quickly set up their Internet the moment they move in. Residents are more than satisfied with the quality and level of service they are receiving. The feedback from residents and property manager has been overwhelming positive. The property is ready to quickly be upgraded to a managed WiFi solution by installing new APs and switches as soon as the property is ready.