Best Internet Providers for Your Apartment or Condo

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Sean Jackson
August 24, 2020

One in eight Americans live in some type of apartment or condominium unit, and with 90% of all American adults using the internet regularly, picking the right internet service provider and plan is extremely important.

In 2016, the FCC ruled the internet was a utility and would be regulated as such. While the government may recognize the importance of internet use, the fact remains that fast and reliable internet service is still not readily available in all areas. We explore the best options for finding the ISP you need for your apartment.

Best Internet Options for Apartment Buildings, Condos and Small Spaces

There are multiple ISPs out there, as well as many ways to access the web. So how do you know which one is the best one for your building complex?

You need to look at what services are offered in your area, how much you are willing to pay and how often you plan to use it.

In most areas, cable and DSL internet services are offered while other options such as fiber-optic or satellite services are scarcer or not recommended for multiple users.

If your apartment building is in an area where fiber services are offered, this would be your best option. Fiber, also known as fios, is the fastest in the industry, the most reliable and it is also quite affordable. When you need to connect hundreds of devices to a single online network, fiber optics would be the most desirable option.

Unfortunately, fios service is not offered in all areas which means that most apartment building owners must depend on other types of ISPs such as DSL or cable internet providers. Here is a closer look at some of the top ISPs for your consideration.

AT&T DSL – Best customer service

AT&T DSL internet service offers fast and reliable speeds with a large coverage area. You have the option to bundle your internet service with DIRECTV and most plans offer an included WiFi gateway to connect all your devices. AT&T offers speeds as fast as 940 Mbps. 

Xfinity – Fastest maximum speeds

Xfinity is well known in the industry for its optimal speeds and performance. This ISP can also offer bundled deals with its popular cable TV service packages. Xfinity is available in most areas and they offer download speeds as fast as 2,000 Mbps.

Spectrum – Best cable internet provider

Spectrum cable internet also offers a range of bundled offers with their internet packages. They are an affordable option for residential users and building owners alike and can offer internet speeds as fast as 940 Mbps.

Verizon Fios – Fiber optics provider

Verizon Fios offers excellent fiber-optic internet service with speeds as fast as 940/880 Mbps. This type of internet service can be used on 100+ devices at once making it the optimal choice for apartment buildings, condos and office spaces.

How to Get Internet for Your Apartment

Before moving into an apartment, it’s important to ask the landlord or leasing agent about community amenities. One of these amenities could be free public WiFi, while in many other cases this won’t apply. Here’s how to handle each situation:

Apartments that come with WiFi

If you have access to free WiFi it might seem like an awesome benefit on the surface, but there are a few things you want to consider. First, since it’s public WiFi, anyone with the login credentials can browse the network. That means anyone could peep into what you’re doing online if they’re tech-savvy.

Two, if there are many devices accessing the same connection, then you could experience performance issues when streaming shows or trying to play games online. If you’re encountering connection issues, you should ask your landlord if your apartment is wired for high-speed internet.

Apartments without provided WiFi

In these cases, you’ll want to first check with your landlord to ensure you can have the internet installed by a provider. When they give the go-ahead, find which providers are in your area and compare based on your needs. This can include price, internet connection speeds, bundling with cable TV and other factors.

When you find the provider you want, order service. Upon completion, they’ll schedule an installation time with you. You or someone at least 18 years of age must be present to let the technician into your home. During installation, the technician will make sure everything is working properly.

Alternatively, if you live in a larger city, you could access hotspots provided by cellular providers like AT&T and Verizon. However, since it’s a public network you’ll want to be careful what you do through this connection. Meanwhile, you can also use the mobile hotspot on your smartphone to connect your devices wirelessly. Doing this might require you to upgrade your mobile service, but you’ll also have a dedicated connection. 

Why Do Tenants in Apartments or Condominium Owners Experience Slow Internet Speeds?

Pinpointing the exact reason why your Internet service inside your apartment building is slow can be difficult. That’s because there are several factors that could contribute to the problem.

More megabytes per second may not always mean more speed

The overall calculation of internet speeds provided by your ISP is often misunderstood by consumers.

When comparing internet packages, it may seem obvious to choose 150 Mbps over 100 Mbps. But more Mbps does not always mean you will have a faster online experience. When you sign up for a package that has more Mbps, you are purchasing more capacity, not speed.

When we as consumers think of speed, we comprehend it as miles per hour like a car’s speed. With the internet, speed is measured with latency. The lower the latency, the faster websites will load.

Back to the driving comparisons, if you imagine buying more Mbps as purchasing more lanes on the freeway instead of a faster speed for your actual car, you will gain a better understanding of how it works. The individual lanes still move at the same speed, no matter how many are added, whether it is a two-lane road or a four-lane.

Understanding latency in your condo or apartment

Latency is a subject many ISPs do not discuss because it is unfortunately out of their control. They are unable to manage or sell their customers a plan with lower latency. Instead, they simply sell more capacity.

Therefore, you will notice that you’ll still experience slow speeds even after you upgrade from 50 Mbps up to 150 Mbps. Your data is transferred to you at a faster rate because more can be sent out to all the customers at the same time. Its more efficient and can be faster at times, but overall it will not be the lightning fast speeds that you imagine. True internet speed is measured between the bandwidth, which is how much is used, and latency, which is how fast it is.

Over-subscription could cause issues for tenants

When an apartment complex offers internet service to all their tenants operating on a single service plan, your online experience can slow down pretty quickly. Although it's possible for everyone in the building to use the same internet service, it can increase the overall cost-effectiveness of the network.

When online use is high during peak hours, it can slow down the speeds for all users. Considering how many people use the internet these days and how often, it can be too much for one single plan to handle.

Useful Tips for Apartment Complex Managers Who Offer Internet and WiFi to Their Tenants

If you are the owner of an apartment complex or commercial building with multiple businesses set up, you can offer managed internet and WiFi to your tenants. If you own a multi-tenant unit, you could earn an additional profit each month by offering this service.

Hire a managed WiFi provider

Offering internet and WiFi to your tenants isn’t necessarily challenging, but it can be if you attempt to take on the task all on your own. You will need to accommodate for each unit with the right equipment and configurations.

To create a WiFi system that is efficient, it is a good idea to rely on a trusted WiFi provider who understands the complexity involved with this type of situation. By contacting a WiFi provider, you can go back to managing your building instead of managing a network.

Always use the right equipment

A WiFi system for an apartment complex should be designed to meet the needs of numerous devices using one online source at the same time. And a one-size fits all WiFi network setup just will not work. Instead, you need to use a setup designed specifically for multiple users. By hiring a professional WiFi network installation team to take care of the process for you, you can ensure that your current and potential tenants will have fast and reliable WiFi services they can depend on.

Keep an eye on bandwidth usage

Keeping track of your overall bandwidth usage is a good way to ensure that you are not paying out more for internet services you don’t need. While a large apartment complex may require one of the highest packages in the industry, much smaller apartment buildings and condos may not need as much as you think. Proper bandwidth management and reporting may be easier said than done but doing so will help you keep track of your usage and choose a plan that will meet your needs and your budget.

Provide fast and efficient support

Technical difficulties will always happen, and it could be due to the device, the person using the device or related to the network. If you want to offer WiFi services to your tenants, you will have to take service and support into consideration as well. How much time will you need to commit to making sure everyone’s internet is operating as it should? To build up a good reputation with your tenants, you will want to make yourself available when they need online assistance. Choosing the right ISP can make a huge difference in that.  

Making the decision to offer WiFi or other forms of internet service to your tenants is a big responsibility that many landlords and business owners often get into without giving it much thought. What may seem to be very simple can quickly turn into a very complex task if it is not handled correctly. Consulting with a professional WiFi team can be beneficial in helping you keep your tenants happy while everyone enjoys a fast and reliable connection.