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Home Sales Advantage – Fiber-Based Broadband

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RISMEDIA, July 1, 2009-As the real estate market begins to show signs of recovery amid increased sales and low mortgage rates, sellers are looking for every advantage. Now new research shows just such an edge comes from fiber-based telecommunications services like Verizon FiOS Internet and FiOS TV.

A national study of U.S. broadband consumers by RVA LLC Market Research and Consulting, released this week, shows that 82% of those buyers who have had broadband service over fiber all the way to the home rank it as the leading real estate development amenity. Four other key prospective features ranked lower among buyers shopping for a new home.

Even among broadband customers who cannot get fiber, nearly 70% want “very high-speed Internet from a direct fiber-optic line” at the next home they buy, the study showed. The percentages in each case were of customers giving advanced broadband either a 5 or 4 on a five-point scale for rating the importance of amenities.

A national random survey of more than 600 fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) consumer users was conducted in April, and a national random survey of more than 600 other broadband consumer users was conducted in May. Respondents were asked a series of perceptual questions and also were asked to test and report their current Internet speeds. Both surveys were done for the Fiber-to-the-Home Council.

“The message to the real estate market is to put a sign on the lawn and a line in your ad saying, ‘This place has fiber,’” said Joe Savage, president of the Fiber-to-the-Home Council. “When end-to-end fiber broadband service tops green space, a security patrol, a community pool, a park or a fitness center among sought-after amenities-and this survey shows that it does-then it’s a real factor.”

Mike Render, CEO of RVA LLC, said: “Broadband has become so much a part of home life that the best, fastest and most reliable service is what’s in demand. From our research, it appears that this desire relates to current needs for fast Internet, the anticipation of even more online services in the future, and an appreciation that this amenity will add value to the home for future resale.”

Studies show that home broadband bandwidth requirements have grown at a rate of about 10 times every six years as access to more complex files and interactive services has increased. Multiple devices in the home doing more downloading and uploading will mean even greater demand for bandwidth, which fiber-based facilities are well-positioned to meet.

In another RVA study, very high-speed Internet-such as over fiber-ranked second only to landscaping and setting on a list of 23 amenities, ahead of features such as pools, home automation, shops, a fitness center, a dog park, a golf course, Wi-Fi at the pool area, day care or concierge services.

“The indication is that the personal space and connectivity really matter to the home buyer now, compared with public facilities; it’s where home owners actually spend their time, and broadband is an increasing part of that time, so they want the best,” Render said.

Realtors are discovering the same thing.

“Having ready and reliable broadband service is very important to potential home buyers because it contributes to making a move as seamless and hassle-free as possible,” said John Tunny, a sales associate at Weichert, Realtors in Chatham, N.J. “Having a home with high-quality broadband capability is extremely desirable to potential home buyers because they want to be able to have secure Internet service without having to compromise on speed.”

According to Bill Heilig, Verizon vice president of corporate marketing, social trends also affect the quest for fiber-based service. “Teleworking is on the rise again, and nothing beats a 25 or 50 megabit-per-second downstream link for just-like-at-work service,” he said.

From a home-sales perspective, census data indicate families generally stay put for at least 5.2 years, on average. With the pace of change in both technology and in broadband services, moving into a home that is already wired for the future is a distinct advantage.

Verizon’s FiOS Internet and FiOS TV services are provided over an all-fiber network straight to the home. The capacity of glass fibers is enormous, so the FiOS network is perfectly positioned to meet the demands of the Internet age.

Increasingly, consumers are downloading movies and videos rather than viewing hard media at home, and experts say the era of the home publisher, pushing multimedia out to the world, is just beginning.

Verizon’s Stu Elby, vice president-technology, said that as a society, we’ve “turned a corner and are headed toward being a information publishing society more than an information consuming society, so faster upload service speeds will be an advantage.”

According to the company, Verizon last week increased the upstream speeds of its most popular bundled FiOS Internet services. The former offer of 10 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and 2 Mbps upstream now includes upstream service at 5 Mbps, and the previous 20/5 Mbps service now comes with 15 Mbps upstream.

“Home shoppers used to scan the prospect for a Jacuzzi or an intercom,” Heilig said. “Now, not so much. They look for the Verizon Optical Network Terminal and the Verizon broadband home router so they know they’ll have the best Internet and TV service over the best home network available today.

“Those who are lucky enough to have the fiber to the home can leverage it to get 21st century service ahead of everyone else,” he said.

Verizon also offers a range of fast, affordable DSL-enabled High Speed Internet service with speeds of up to 1 megabits per second (Mbps)/384 kilobits per second (Kbps), 3 Mbps/768 Kbps and 7.1 Mbps/ 768Kbps* available, as well as wireline voice and all-digital-quality DIRECTV service. For more information on High Speed Internet and Verizon bundled services, visit http://www22.verizon.com/residential/highspeedInternet/.

* Internet speeds refer to the connection speed between the user’s location and Verizon’s central office. Actual surfing speeds will vary based on many factors and be lower than connection speed.

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