Dish Targets MDU Market With Video, WiFi Bundle

Dish Network is tackling what it hopes to be a lucrative market for multiple dwelling units (MDUs), offering apartment owners and developers a bulk managed WiFi and video product it calls Dish Fiber.

Dish Fiber, to be announced at the Apartmentalize convention in Denver Tuesday, will let apartment building owners package a managed WiFi service -- with speeds up to 1 gigabit per second -- and a bundle of video programming with packages ranging from a live streaming TV service with 24 channels selected by the property to fuller video offerings through its Dish's Hopper hardware.

The streaming TV service uses Smartbox, Dish's headend video distribution platform for commercial applications, via a single, centralized satellite dish and delivered over the property’s IP network. This configuration eliminates the need for individual satellite dishes and a separate coax network for video. 

Dish said residents can upgrade video service without a credit check, long-term commitment or a technician visit.

“The decision of choosing an internet and TV provider has historically been left to residents, which is more complicated and time-consuming for the consumer, and limits property owners’ revenue opportunity,” Dish TV group president Brian Neylon said in a press release. “By eliminating the common pain points often associated with competing providers, Dish Fiber provides residents with the services they want in one solution, while giving property owners more ways to monetize their highly-valued amenities.”

Dish Business director of product and business development Josh Rowe said the internet service is delivered through a DIA [Dedicated Internet Access] circuit to the property either through a direct fiber connection or a point-to-point millimeter wave connection where fiber is aggregated to a central location and delivered wirelessly. “Ultimately we own those connections into the building, so it is fully managed by Dish.”

Dish Business general manager of business development Nate Block said that in a recent interview 94% of residents ranked high-speed internet as the top apartment feature.

“It’s really moved beyond an amenity and is now a utility,” Block said. “No one has to wonder what kind of electricity or water they’ll have, they just expect when they move in, when they switch on a light or turn on the tap, it’s going to work, The same is not true of internet services generally.”

Dish Fiber mobile app

Dish Fiber mobile app

Dish wouldn’t disclose active customers for the service yet, but said it has tested the offering over the past year at several different property groups. 

“Our target market is anywhere in the U.S.,” Block said.

Dish said property owners can select which 24 channels they offer residents from a pool of channels that includes local broadcast stations.

“It gives the property owner some ability to customize that lineup to best meet their demographics,” Rowe said.

Property owners buy the internet service and can set the resale price to either maximize profit or use it as a differentiator and offer it for free.

“Frankly some of those properties have said this is a really valuable amenity and we may just provide it as such,” Block said. “[They’re] saying, ‘Our differentiating point in the market is that we provide this for free and that’s why somebody would rent from us or stay with us versus going to another property.’ It’s a lot about empowering these properties to manage that infrastructure that best fits with their business plans.”