Slow Internet Could Drive Away Nearly Two-Thirds of Student Residents

  • Bandwidth
  • MDUs
HOUSTON – Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of students would consider relocating if Internet speeds in their apartment didn’t meet expectations. This finding, from a survey by J Turner Research, confirms that access to fast Internet speeds is no longer an amenity in student housing - it is now an expectation. And it's not hard to understand why - 56 percent of students said they spend between three and five hours a day on the Internet, and another 16 percent said they spend five to six hours a day online.

A majority (53 percent) of the 10,000 student respondents said the Internet connections in their apartments were slower than at their college or university; however, their satisfaction levels with Internet speeds remain high, with 43 percent of respondents ranking their satisfaction at a 7 or above, based on a scale of 0-10.

“This survey ... is the first indicator of the connectivity services the multifamily industry will need to deliver as these bandwidth-hungry residents transition into the larger rental pool in the years ahead,” says Joseph Batdorf, president of J Turner Research. “The fact students ranked cell phone reception and speed of Internet access as two of the top three amenities they seek in an apartment, after a large bedroom, underscores the importance this younger generation places on connectivity.”

Wireless and Bandwidth Multitasking
The widespread use of wireless devices such as cell phones, iPads and laptops has driven the use of wireless Internet connections in apartment communities. According to respondents, 61 percent of students connect to the Internet wirelessly, and the connection is accessed by multiple devices. Sixteen percent of students said they have three devices connected to the Internet at any given time, and another 25 percent have three or more devices accessing their wireless connections.

  • 89 percent do schoolwork online

  • 87 percent are accessing their social networking accounts

  • 64 percent are streaming music

  • 26 percent are gaming online

  • 17 percent are using their connections for peer-to-peer file sharing

  • 11 percent are doing all of the above


  • “Internet connectivity and bandwidth speeds are as important as location for students,” says Miles Orth, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Campus Apartments, one of the companies participating in the student housing survey. “Low bandwidth equates to low occupancy in today’s student housing marketplace.”

    Christine Richards, senior vice president for Education Realty Trust (EDR), another participating company, says, “It’s imperative for communities to monitor students’ bandwidth usage and evaluate the existing Internet infrastructure to ensure you are delivering the connection speeds residents expect in their apartment; otherwise your occupancy and retention rates are going to suffer.”

    Students Prefer Bulk Internet Offerings
    A surprising 91 percent of students said they were more likely to rent in a community where access to the Internet is included in the rent. However, less than one quarter (22 percent) said they would be willing to pay additional fees to increase bandwidth speeds. Fifty-nine percent of students said they used a smart phone, and most were happy with the reception in their apartments, with 77 percent rating their satisfaction with their reception as a 7 or above.

    J Turner Research distributed 51,945 surveys across 130 student housing communities nationwide, asking residents to share their technology and bandwidth perspectives and behaviors. Data was collected between January 31, 2011 and February 11, 2011. To date 10,288 students have responded to the 15-question survey, a 20 percent response rate.

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