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Why Bulk Cable Modem is a Bad Internet Solution for your Property

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This post was collaboratively written by four members of our team with a combined 70 years in the cable industry, having worked at the top Cable Companies in the country and having left that industry over the last two years due to the issues described below.

Cable companies will want to sell you bulk modems for your multi-tenant property. Why?

  1. Low-cost Solution using older Technology- It is fast and easy for them to deploy, you most likely have cable lines to each apartment. However, sometimes those lines are old and can’t provide good service.

  2. Cable Modems are Really intended for Single Family Residential Use- Cable Companies use cable modems as a one size fits all solution for Internet Service.  Cable modems are not really designed for Apartments due to close proximity to neighbors and ongoing network conflicts.  Why do Cable Companies use modems in Apartments? Because it is what they know and do and use in single-family homes!   Cable Operators are used to providing Cable Modems to single-family homes, so they think it is the best solution for you, but far from the correct solution for a multi-tenant environment.

What are the problems with Bulk Cable Modem as a solution for internet or WiFi for your MDU?

  1. Frequent Trouble Issues- Cable modem systems are inherently more problematic than an Ethernet or fiber-based system. (This leads to more customer issues, more trouble tickets, more customer satisfaction issues, which all reflect back on the property owner)

  2. Multiple Failure Points- There is equipment to break in each unit that can cause customer issues. There is a cable modem that has to be maintained in each unit, they are typically loose and just connected by a coax connection in each apartment, this is clunky to handle during resident turnover.

  3. Power Outages- When the power goes out, the internet goes out. If there is a power outage, it is rare that the resident will have a UPS Battery Backup on their Modem and WiFi router.  With a properly deployed ManagedWiFi system, all electronics in the system are powered by a Managed UPS Battery Backup System. So when the power flickers or goes out, the Internet keeps working. This is important for your residents from a life safety perspective, so WiFi, FaceTime, and Whatsapp calling will keep working. If you have a generator the data closets can also be powered by the generator so the internet won’t go out, unless the generator runs out of fuel.

  4. Older Cable Lines - Many times the cable lines are aging which will cause customer issues and trouble calls. Cable companies are very hesitant to spend money to upgrade the aging infrastructure. Apartments that have problems, can go on for months or more.

  5. It is not a Managed Solution- Cable modems are not a managed WiFi solution.  What this means is the modems each work independently and do not coordinate with each other on signals. WiFi channels can compete with each other.  They also are not monitored 24 x 7 by a monitoring center to know if there is a problem before you see a problem and remotely and proactively solve the issue.

  6. Symmetrical Service uploads and downloads- Cable Modems don’t provide a symmetric service, which means the same download and upload speeds, this has become standard today with fiber providers and is what most customers want, however cable modems deliver asymmetric service, meaning faster download speeds than upload speeds.

  7. Wireless Router Conflicts- Deploying a cable modem in every apartment, typically means you have a wireless router in every unit. This leads to WiFi interference. This is where apartment 101’s WiFi signal causes issues with Apartment 102’s WiFi signal and so on.  This is because the WiFi from the cable modems is not coordinated. ManagedWiFi systems coordinate the wifi from every unit to provide the very best wifi experience in an MDU because all of the WiFi access points coordinate with a cloud-based control system and use artificial intelligence and machine learning to maximize the experience of every WiFi client device

  8. NO Home Smart Technology and Compatibility- With Bulk Modem service you cannot deploy property tech or IOT. Each apartment will have its own router and wireless network that is controlled by the resident, so you cannot connect Thermostats and Door Locks, Leak Detection, and any other in-unit technology because it will get disconnected every time you turn over a unit.

  9. Asset Protection- You cannot deploy asset protection IOT systems through the property because there is no property-wide network to connect them to.

  10. Camera Security Systems - Because you don’t have a network that you own or a partner that works with you, You don’t have a system where you can hook up your camera in one part of the building or multiple buildings and ride a common infrastructure, saving you money and providing you with network connectivity where you need it anywhere on the property.

  11. NO Common Area and Roaming- With Bulk Modem you may not have an amenity space solution or at least one that is linked to your unit.   Many times for amenity spaces you have to pay separately for a WiFi system to cover these.  With modem solutions, you normally do not have property-wide roaming or a WiFi bubble covering your entire property. This is where the residents or guests can connect to the WiFi anywhere and go anywhere on the property and have a secure WiFi connection using a single password that keeps them connected. From the pool to the gym, to the Lobby, Elevators, or their unit.

  12. NO Ownership of the Equipment- Finally, you don’t own the system, so you don’t control your own destiny.  If the Cable Company isn’t performing, you can’t just go get another provider.  They own the system and no one else uses their type of technology, they use it because it keeps competitors out. Your best option is to deploy a real network that you own and you have the choice to bring in the best operator at the best price and service. There is competition. 

Here is real-world testimony from former large Cable Company Territory Manager, Chase Kelley:

One thing I would note at first glance is that Bulk Service from the local Cable Company is NOT frictionless and the furthest thing from being user friendly. Having worked heavily with bulk accounts at the cable company there are a number of issues residents run into, some of which are the following: 

  1. While the property pays for the service, the resident is still responsible for setting up their own account for their corresponding address, which in and of itself is a hassle. Especially if they have bad prior history on older accounts.
  2. Residents don't necessarily take into consideration that they are also responsible for their equipment, so they often leave it behind or never return it, causing a non-pay lock (disconnect) on the account. The next resident has to then jump through hoops (often with the assistance of an account manager from the provider and help from the property) so the account can be unlocked for them to set up a new account. 
  3. At the large cable company I worked for all of these accounts were pushed through the "bulk" department, which was almost impossible to reach. It isn't advertised, and many residents would call the standard retail line, where they spent hours going in circles to reach the department that would assist them. 

I spent a ton of time and effort working with properties to fix the above issues.

I can tell you having seen how Bulk ManagedWiFi works with DojoNetworks, one of the biggest selling points outside of what is listed above is how user-friendly and frictionless DojoNetworks truly is. Anyone who has experienced what it is like to deal with a bulk Cable Modem account as a resident would more than likely do backflips to not have to go through that process again. 

Shortly after this article was posted coincidentally, Joe Geroux, our VP of Operations moved his sister into a new apartment that had Bulk Internet from the local cable company, read about his experience here.

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