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How Free Wi-Fi Can Bridge the Digital Divide in Affordable Apartment Buildings

Several apartment buildings on a city block.
Wi-Fi installations are a cost-effective way to connect unserved and underserved apartment buildings. They can bring reliable, high-speed internet to 4.1 million households closing up to a quarter of the broadband affordability gap.

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17 million U.S. households lack home broadband internet access because they cannot afford to connect. We have a historic opportunity to leverage $42.5B in Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) funding included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to deploy Free Apartment Wi-Fi programs to address these inequalities. 

Wi-Fi installations are a cost-effective way to connect unserved and underserved apartment buildings. They can bring reliable, high-speed internet to 4.1 million households, enabling them to fully engage in the digital economy, closing up to a quarter of the broadband affordability gap. Below, we provide essential information on the installation, set-up, and maintenance of property-wide Wi-Fi networks that can help owners and decision-makers who are considering Free Apartment Wi-Fi for their buildings.

What Are The Advantages of Free Apartment Wi-Fi?

Free Apartment Wi-Fi has many advantages for residents including the following:

  • An internet connection that is superior in both price and performance to other available plans.
  • Simple and easy to use.
  • No complicated signup process.
  • Secure and reliable, leveraging a professionally designed and managed network.

Property owners can also see these Improvements in their business:

  • Increased interest from prospective renters. 
  • Increased resident retention rates among current residents.
  • Increased property value.
  • Connection for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, like smart thermostats, smart locks, and security cameras.
  • Future-proofing through useful infrastructure with a long lifetime.

What Does An Installation Look Like?

 A typical Free Apartment Wi-Fi installation comprises four key components, as illustrated.

There are four principal components of a Free Apartment Wi-Fi Installation:

  1. A High-Speed Enterprise-Class Internet Connection – Purchased from an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and delivered to the building.
  2. Server Rooms – Located around the building to distribute the internet connection throughout the property.
  3. Wireless Access Points – Placed around the property to distribute Wi-Fi signals to residents.
  4. Network Cabling – Run through the building, connecting the server rooms and Wireless Access Points.

Ongoing support is provided by MSPs to manage these components, where they will proactively monitor the network, ensuring everything functions smoothly and resolving technical issues as they arise with minimal disruptions to residents. Once funding is approved, most installations can be completed within 3 to 6 months.

Is my property right for a Free Apartment Wi-Fi Installation?

Most apartment buildings are a good fit for Wi-Fi installations. Our diagram illustrates a midrise style apartment building, but Apartment Wi-Fi works similarly in other designs, such as garden-style communities

Most building modifications are simple, such as installing small server racks in existing utility rooms and bringing internet access into the buildings. The cost and complexity of installing network cabling can vary between buildings. 

There is not one simple cookie-cutter approach to Free Apartment Wi-Fi because every installation must be designed with the exact building and project requirements in mind. Our dedicated team is here to help make your implementation as simple and efficient as possible.

EducationSuperHighway supports states with address-level data for the buildings eligible for BEAD-funded Free Apartment Wi-Fi networks to include in Volume 1 of their Initial Proposals. Our data contains the unserved and underserved buildings required by the FCC National Broadband Map and each state’s share of 75,000 buildings nationwide that require challenge process review.  Our Free Apartment Wi-Fi Dashboard also provides planners with state- and city-level data on the number of buildings eligible for BEAD funding, the unconnected households and populations reached, and the estimated deployment costs. 

How do I get started?

The key steps for installing a Wi-Fi network are securing funding, selecting a vendor through a Request for Proposals (RFP) process, and installing the network. 

Once the network is online, resident outreach and digital literacy education are critical steps to ensure proper network use among residents at the property. 

EducationSuperHighway’s Free Apartment Wi-Fi program leverages the experience of a team from across the telecommunications, resident services, and community outreach industries to provide support, tools, and resources that can assist decision-makers with custom-fitting a solution to the needs of property owners, their buildings, and their valued residents.


Free Apartment Wi-Fi provides a cost-effective way to connect millions of households to reliable and affordable high-speed internet access. It’s a model that creates advantages for both residents and property owners, and once-in-a-generation funding opportunities are making securing the capital for these projects easier than ever.

Contact us at for more information.

Written by Peter Paskowsky, Network Consultant, Apartment Wi-Fi

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