Bulk Communication Services

What is Bulk Communication Services

Bulk communication services are an agreement between an organization such as a home owner's association (HOA), condominium association, or apartment complex and a telecommunications provider.  The agreement specifies a basic set of services that the telecommunication company shall provide to all residents within the association.  The list of services could include cable TV, Internet access, phone, and security services among others.  The level of service (i.e. Internet speed or number of cable channels) will be negotiated in the agreement between the association and the telecommunications provider.  The cost of the service may be billed individually to each unit or globally to the association which would then include it as part of its annual assessment or rent.  While a bulk service agreement provides a basic level of services, it does not prohibit an association member from purchasing additional services from the telecommunication company at the member's expense (i.e. premium cable TV channels or 1 Gb symmetrical Internet speed for operating a home business).  

Advantages of Bulk Communication Services

The biggest advantage to a bulk service agreement is the cost.  Because the telecommunications provider is guaranteed a subscription from every unit, they can split the capital and operating costs of the service evenly across the entire association membership instead of just those who subscribe - thus reducing the retail cost for everyone under the agreement by a significant amount.  Another advantage is that developers can establish a bulk service agreement ahead of time, allowing the telecommunications company to install the necessary infrastructure during construction of the neighborhood or complex as opposed to after the fact where the costs would be higher.  

Designing multi-tenant buildings and multi-dwelling units (MDU) with bulk services in mind can provide additional benefits such as community Wi-Fi and ease of maintenance. Developers can see advantages from entering into a bulk contract by marketing the cost savings to potential buyers or renters.  Negotiating community Wi-Fi or fiber to the house (FttH) provides another selling point for developers to differentiate themselves from others.  

Disadvantages of Bulk Communication Services

The most stated disadvantage is that everyone (with limited exceptions by law) must pay for their share of the bulk services agreement whether they use it or not.  This means part time residents cannot disable the service while they are away nor can a resident unsubscribe from the service if they wish to use a different provider.  However, residents are free to purchase services from other providers at their sole expense, such as a satellite TV subscription.  

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