Xfinity Communities focuses on reducing MDU broadband subscriber onboarding friction

July 2, 2024
By partnering with Yardi, which makes Xfinity broadband services available through its RentCafe platform, a renter is able to immediately get access to service upon moving into a new property.

Xfinity Communities aims to reduce the pain new multi-dwelling unit (MDU) residents experience when they move in and sign up for broadband service.

To do this, the provider started a strategic partnership with Yardi, a real estate software provider, to offer residents Xfinity’s internet connectivity at move-in through Yardi’s RentCafe resident portal. 

The partnership makes Xfinity Internet available for residents to select in RentCafe, a platform by Yardi that streamlines the resident journey from unit selection to move-in.

“Our pact with Yardi means that for a resident, the internet is one less thing to think about, and this makes you more satisfied," said Ilan Eframian, VP of Xfinity Communities. “Likewise, for the property staff, it’s one less thing and question for them to answer and for us one less friction point.”

Property manager challenges

This new partnership considers the challenges faced by property managers. 

Resident expectations have rapidly evolved alongside technologies, tools and trends. Offering residents a seamless, innovative, and personalized experience at key moments of need to access amenities like advanced connectivity, entertainment, and mobile is a great way to differentiate a property and boost success.

The provider wants to set a new precedent for the multifamily industry by making the move-in process as easy and modern as possible.

“No one wants friction,” he said. “You’re moving, and you have less familiarity with who to call and who to set up services with because you don’t know the cable or phone company anymore.” 

He added that the expectations from renters, particularly the younger generation, have become higher for elements like broadband. 

“Younger renters are coming from a university system where the dorms are fancier,” Eframian said. “This is unlike the days when I went to college when you got calling cards to make long-distance phone calls, and that was the extent of the amenities.”  

Service ready properties

For several years, penetrating multi-dwelling units with its internet service has been a critical priority for Xfinity. 

While bulk and managed Wi-Fi have become the hot topic in MDU broadband, they are only a tiny part of Xfinity’s business in this sector.

For this segment, Xfinity has been finding success with its retail broadband, video, and voice services. 

“Our MDU practice is focused on our traditional services, including retail services, broadband, entertainment, and phone services for the people who still have phone service,” Eframian said. “This is focused on choosing your provider and scheduling your installation time.”  

A key point is that a consumer can schedule installation before moving into a new property.

“We know when we’re going to roll out the technician, but usually it’s self-install kits these days, so you don’t even need a technician to come out,” Eframian said. “This means you are prepared on day one.”  

A timed rollout

Xfinity will roll out Yardi’s software across properties in an evolutionary manner.

It will start with a pilot and then expand it across all its properties over time.

The service provider sees Yardi as a property software platform provider looking to extend the tech stack as a partner to reduce renters' pain points.

“Of the properties that use Yardi’s software, we’re about to kick off pilot at a subset of properties to make sure everything works,” Eframian said. “Eventually, we’ll roll it out across the properties in the Xfinity footprint.”

Enabling connected buildings

Xfinity has been making moves to enhance the user experience. The first is its WiFi Ready Apartments concept.

These locations have pre-installed, ready-to-use Xfinity Gateways that can be activated immediately once a renter subscribes to Xfinity Internet. A unit could have an XB8, XB7, or XB6 Gateway.

“WiFi Ready is the instant activation where the gateways are built in the unit that you can activate right away,” Eframian said.

Eframian said while managed Wi-Fi is undoubtedly getting a lot of attention; he admits it is only a tiny subset of what Xfinity Communities delivers to multifamily properties—a consistent theme heard from the property owners it works with today.

“Most properties don’t need all of the bells and whistles,” he said. “They usually want that persistent connectivity and the additional SSID for property staff, devices, and other applications like smart locks and smart thermostats.”

Another element of the provider’s MDU drive is the Connected Building. This is an Xfinity service purchased by property owners of multi-family properties such as apartments, condominiums, senior living, and luxury housing. It allows residents to connect to Xfinity Internet wirelessly within their homes and around their community.

“With Connected Buildings, we have taken the gateway and flattened it and purpose-built one for multi-family, which would be mounted in the unit,” Eframian said. “It will be integrated with property management software, so you can activate service immediately when you move in.”

But consumer internet is only one part of the picture.

Property owners can also use the gateways for internal purposes and residents’ guests. Further, an owner can have a private SSID. Xfinity is currently trialing this concept.

“We have started pre-sales with plans to install it later this year at properties,” Eframian said.

About the Author

Sean Buckley

Sean is responsible for establishing and executing the editorial strategies of Lightwave and Broadband Technology Report across their websites, email newsletters, events, and other information products.

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