Google Fiber could raise rents 11 percent, study suggests

Where Google Fiber comes, landlords will rejoice. And millennials can cry over their keyboards.

When fiber-delivered internet comes to an area, rent for apartments and condos could go up 11 percent, a new report says. Such a rise provides “better bottom lines” for landlords, said a press release from the Fiber to the Home Council, which put out the report.

“These apartment and condominium owners and renters have lifestyles centering heavily on broadband use,” the report said. “(They) spend more time online and use online streaming video more than single family home residents of similar age. Fast and reliable broadband is now rated the single most important amenity.”

The finding about an 11 percent rent cost increase was based on fiber internet, not broadband in general. Gigabit-speed fiber service such as Google’s could raise rents even more, the report said. The council, an industry group that counts Google as a member, based its calculation, essentially, on the additional amount renters would pay for fiber internet.

If the group’s conclusion is accurate, Google’s plans for fiber in the Bay Area could cause rent to spike in some cities and not others. The company has announced limited fiber service in San Francisco, and access to the utility poles it needs for stringing cable above-ground appears secure in Palo Alto and Santa Clara. The firm has been working with San Jose officials, but has not yet committed to installing fiber in the city. And in Mountain View and Sunnyvale, Google has run into resistance from competitors over access to utility poles, threatening rollout in those cities.

The report also included a number of interesting findings about habits of folks living the apartment and condo life. They are, according to the report, a bit younger than residents of single-family homes, and are much less likely to be married or have kids at home.

“It is hypothesized that these differences might translate to more time available for broadband use,” the report said. How much time, exactly? Well, this demographic grouping spends 5.1 hours per day online, compared to 4.8 hours for dwellers in single-family homes. And apartment and condo residents under 35 reported having 61 percent of their video content streamed, rather than obtained via cable TV or over-the-air broadcasting. The rate was 46 percent for residents in the same age group living in single-family homes.

It turns out, too, that people renting apartments have different priorities than people living in condos they own. Apartment dwellers identified their top three amenities as ultra-fast broadband, a washer and dryer in the unit, and a balcony or patio. Condo owners put the washer and dryer first, then speedy broadband, then cable TV.


Photo: Faced with the exorbitant costs of living in the Bay Area, Ajay Patel shreds papers with help from his mother, Manda Patel, as he packs up his family’s apartment in San Francisco on June 9, preparing for a move back to North Carolina. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)


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