Thursday, November 30, 2006

DirecTV On-Demand

DirecTV plans to launch its high-speed video-on-demand (VOD) service sometime next spring, which will give customers access to a large library of TV shows and movies anytime they want. Customers will use a high-speed data connection to download on-demand programming from the Internet to watch on their TVs. At first, HD programming won't be available, but the system is capable and will most likely include it late in 2007. Sky Report

DirecTV probably has one of the better video offerings out there today for multifamily, but they still need to roll out VOD to keep up with the cable companies' offerings. Be careful, though - this system completely changes DirecTV's approach. There are significant advantages to offering satellite video to your residents, but you need to make sure you have someone on your team who understands these future systems and can get them properly deployed at your community.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Owners Caught in the Crossfire

As phone and cable companies fight for customers, the high-stakes competition has gone beyond marketing offers and superior service. Service providers across the country are accusing each other of damaging equipment and shoddy work. A consultant quoted in the article mentions that such equipment damage and misplaced wiring is "often unavoidable... where rivals either share equipment or keep it side-by-side." NY Times

Property owners are getting caught squarely in the middle of this fight. It is critical that you have clearly defined language in your agreements that determines who will respond to issues at your site and how long that company has to do so. Keep an eye on local rates, as well. Prices will continue to fall as these companies go at each other for market share - make sure that the offer at your property is competitive with the current offers, and use them as a negotiating tool with your providers if you can.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Phone Service Via Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi advocates say the technology can provide an inexpensive alternative to existing phone service, but it's a technology that's still evolving and ethical and legal issues concerning its use are raising potential obstacles. NY Times

Landline telephone service is under attack from cell phones, the cable company, VoIP providers like Vonage and Skype, and now anyone within distance of a wireless access point. It's probably still not a great idea to leave landline phone wiring out of your building, but you need to be aware of the alternatives and know how to address residents that want these other options. Suttle is one company that has addressed this issue - they offer a module that lets the resident choose any phone provider without requiring any rewiring to the unit.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Two Years Until All-Digital

A very interesting piece about the number of technological, material and political hurdles faced by the telecom industry as the 2009 transition to digital broadcasting approaches. Potential headaches include cable interference and the installation of digital broadcast equipment on crowded transmission towers. As Scripps Howard VP of Engineering Michael Doback told B & C, "People haven't considered, or maybe even understood, the mammoth scope of what we are undertaking." Broadcasting & Cable

Is your property ready for all-digital broadcasting? Given how much we like to watch TV in this country, it's probably a good idea to assess your property's technology infrastructure and assemble a plan now... before the deadline passes.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

AT&T Aims to Create Digital Living Room

AT&T's Homezone service combines satellite TV and broadband to deliver a complete entertainment package to customers, all from a single set-top box. The Homezone launch is a reaction to prevent AT&T customers from leaving for bundled cable company offerings. San Francisco Chronicle

Keep an eye on these offers - as more companies are able to offer quality "triple-play" solutions, it will become more difficult to differentiate between telecom providers. Make sure you understand what programming and services your residents value most.

Wine Goes High-Tech

eSommelier is a touchscreen residential wine management server designed by Media Access Solutions. The system can provide information about each bottle provided by Robert Parker, and it also includes the ability to grab bottle labels via Google Images. The eSommelier could be a great idea for an upscale property that offers a community wine cellar. CE Pro

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Top 10 "Green" Products Recognized

BuildingGreen Inc., a Battleboro, Vt.-based publishing firm that focuses on environmental issues, announced its Top 10 Green Building Products awards for 2006 at the U.S. Green Building Council's Greenbuild Conference. Multi-Housing News

Of particular note for multifamily properties is the WeatherTRAK irrigation control system offered by HydroPoint Data Systems Inc. WeatherTRAK conserves water by using watering schedules based on both physical landscape features and actual weather data that is wirelessly transmitted to controllers every day. The product also has a Water-Efficient Landscaping credit from LEED.

Panasonic Offers Plasma Concierge Service

Over the holiday season, Panasonic is opening up its Panasonic Plasma Concierge program to anyone who wants to learn about HDTV. The program, usually only available to Panasonic HD plasma owners, offers information on basic and technical information about HD sets. Let your staff get educated, mention it in your December issue of your community newsletter, or post a link to the page on your property's website. CE Pro

HD Programming Still Confusing to Many Consumers

The big box retailers like Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Home Depot are making big pushes to sell HDTVs this holiday season, but a new report by Frank N. Magid Associates shows that consumers continue to be confused about what HDTV is and how to get it. The study found that only 47% of consumers buying an HD set planned to watch TV programs in HD, versus 63% two years ago. It also found that 30% of HDTV owners have yet to add HD service through their video provider, and those customers that have made the upgrade complain that HD stations tend to occupy the farthest reaches of the channel range. USA Today

As a property owner, you already know it's important to offer the latest in competitive telecom services such as HDTV, but you also need to make sure that your residents have resources available to answer the questions they will inevitably have. Keep your leasing staff current on the services available at your property, and lean heavily on your provider to furnish any additional informational materials to keep your residents happy with their advanced services.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

HDTV for the Masses

Lower pricing from retailers like Best Buy, Wal-Mart and others means that more people than ever will be coming home this holiday season with a new HDTV. Be sure that your video provider and your building's cabling can deliver the great picture that your residents will expect. Mercury News