Wireless Internet as Retention, Advertising Tool

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorAuburn, Ala.–Aerowire is a technology company that provides wireless Internet connections to multifamily projects as well as municipalities and offices. The company, which was founded by President Butch Brock three years ago, claims to provide a faster alternative to other high-speed Internet access options by installing a small 12-in. x 4-in. antenna on the roof of a building. Any building’s existing wiring (or laptops with wireless internet cards) can be used to deliver connections to the Internet.“Student housing properties are our primary customers,” Bill Lavers, vice president of development at Aerowire, tells MHN. “We have about 28 of them using our technology right now, with about 3,000 end users.”Lavers adds that wireless Internet as an amenity is proving to be a retention tool for several of the company’s customers. One of them is First Realty, a property management company in Auburn, which currently has 16 of its student complexes with Aerowire’s Internet connection. Bob Norman, president and principle broker of the company, tells MHN, “The Auburn market is overbuilt. There is a lot of off-campus student housing being built with an enrollment of 25,000 each year. It’s a very competitive market.”First Realty implemented Aerowire’s Internet connection in 300 units it manages. “This is what the students want. They would rather have this than a dishwasher, so we built the cost into the rent. I am pretty sure it’s a good retention tool and even though I haven’t done any scientific studies, I have had very few complaints about it.”Another property management company, The Garden District, manages close to 600 units in Auburn, 446 of which now have wireless Internet. Howard Weissinger  of the Garden District, tells MHN, “We were looking for something with good customer service and Aerowire provides us with just that. Wireless Internet has definitely been helpful in retaining tenants. It is also a great advertising tool for new tenants.” The Garden District has been using Aerowire for the last three months.