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Baseball, Hot Dogs and Broadband Services HITTING A HOME RUN.

Hit a home run with Seizing Today's Opportunities of Cable, Telephone and Internet Services. The NAA Education Foundation's new video will help you get a better grasp on the important issues regarding cable television, telephone and the Internet and is available at NAA's bookstore.

Summer is just around the corner and baseball season is on its way to adding yet another year to decades of an American tradition. Not to be slighted from its achievements in tradition, the National Apartment Association's Education Foundation is also off to a champion season with its new video production titled, Seizing Today's Opportunities of Cable, Telephone and Internet Services. This video addresses the critical subjects of cable television (video), high-speed Internet (data) and telephone services (voice).

Although other multifamily housing trade organizations have pondered the efforts of creating such a tool for their members, NAA is the first to step up to the plate and hit a home run. This first-of-its-kind educational video places the NAA Education Foundation on the cutting edge of educating the industry.

Jim Arbury, NAA/NMHC Vice President, Tax and Telecommunications Lobbyist initially conceived the video. Arbury brought his idea to the NAA Education Foundation (NAAEF) Board for funding. The Foundation Board, lead by Mary Beth Marshall in 2000, recognized that the telecommunications video would address the immediate demands of NAA members seeking access to user-friendly information regarding digital video, data and voice services. "My colleagues would complain about losing residents over cable service and Internet access. The impression I got from them was that they felt these losses were out of their control due to their lack of telecommunications experience," says Marshall. "This video will be offered as a stand-alone education program and will be included as part of the new NAA Certified Apartment Property Supervisor (CAPS) curriculum continues Marshall. NAA may also want to explore the development of a telecommunications and technology task force to assist individual members and the organization at large with these issues."

Within weeks, the Education Foundation approved a production budget and the project was off the ground. "We strongly believe that a video of this type is needed by apartment owners and managers so they can make the best decisions regarding voice, video and data services for their residents, and it definitely helps to clear up a lot of misunderstanding about what to do and not do", says Arbury. Heading the NAA/NMHC lobbying and legislative efforts regarding cable, telephone and Internet services, Arbury plays a critical role in protecting the apartment industry's rights regarding these services and their choice of services.

Good Scouting

Arbury's first task was to identify an industry expert to act as the project's director. "The choice was easy. We picked Larry Kessler of InteliCable because he has been involved in the entire telecom process on behalf of apartment owner/managers for more than five years and frankly, he just does not know how to do any job other than with total professionalism. His all-out effort on the video made the rest of our jobs easy," says Arbury. Once on board, Kessler was tasked with developing the subject and script outlines for the production. "In fact, he had most of the script written in three or four days. He was way ahead of deadline on every item and I know this was not easy, as he is CEO of the top real estate technology and telecommunications advisory firm in the country," says Arbury. With the content and script outlines in place, it was necessary to next identify real estate industry colleagues to fill the roles of educators during filming.

The team members recruited by Arbury and Kessler to assist in this project were Susan Ansel of Gables Residential, Laurie Baker of Camden Property Trust, Lyn Lansdale of AvalonBay Communities, Lori L. Reeves of Forest City Residential, and Scott Wiggins of United Dominion Realty Trust. Each of these individuals was tasked with the responsibility of making certain their company's portfolios were properly maintained with respect to digital video, high-speed Internet and telephone services. Each are experts in the subjects they speak about in the video and helped to create its quality, usefulness and effectiveness. "There are a number of individuals capable of addressing the subjects of the video, however, this group collectively represents the Mission Impossible team required to bring this project to fruition," says Kessler.

Quenching a Thirst

With all of the players in place, it was time to get to work. "The most difficult task of the entire project was creating the material to be used during filming," says Kessler. "Jim Arbury and I have worked together for years on behalf of the multifamily housing industry to educate property owners, managers, developers and REITs on the many critical subjects related to digital video, high-speed Internet and telephone services. And while this video production is a key opportunity to educate a broader base, attempting to cover these subjects in roughly 30 minutes is like trying to take a sip of water from a fire hydrant," continues Kessler.

The demand for the type of information provided in Seizing Today's Opportunities of Cable, Telephone and Internet Services is certainly high. Arbury and Kessler worked diligently to make certain as much material as possible is in the video. Although the uninitiated audience will step away from their first viewing of the video as if they have in fact attempted to take a sip of water from a fire hydrant, they will also be much better prepared. For those who are experienced in these subjects, the video serves as sound refresher course in the details that are oftentimes forgotten.

"The production of this video would be an impossible task if its goal were to cover these subjects at the same level of understanding as those who participated in this project. However, it dutifully completes the task of taking these subjects and placing them in a form that is user-friendly and easy to understand," says Kessler.

First Base

Seizing Today's Opportunities of Cable, Telephone and Internet Services begins with descriptions of the terminology required to better understand digital video, high-speed Internet and voice technologies. Next, a general introduction is made about each of these subjects as they specifically relate to multifamily communities. Using video service as the primary vehicle for weaving through myriad issues related to technology, services, contract language and negotiation strategies, these subjects are individually addressed. This segmented approach allows the viewer to form important questions, take notes and better understand how each of these are mastered.

Second Base

"The technologies used to provide digital video, high-speed Internet and telephone services on multifamily properties continue to become more complex. Additionally, the numbers and types of providers offering these services are becoming more confusing and complex," says Kessler. "The difficulty for most property managers, owners and developers is that they are confronted with changing laws (both state and federal), changing providers and new technologies. And as if this were not enough to deal with, they also must negotiate with service providers who are oftentimes unknowledgeable themselves, deceptive and manipulative. This video is the multifamily industry's first real attempt at leveling the playing field," continues Kessler.

Third Base

After taking its viewer through the journey of understanding the subjects or technology, services, service providers, contract language and negotiation strategies, the video addresses the important issue of inside wiring. And although addressing this subject can rapidly become a mind-numbing experience, the video lays down a very user-friendly path to follow. It takes the viewer through a basic, step-wise process of evaluating existing inside video and voice wiring. It points out the issues used by properties to determine what services can be offered to residents and if there is a need for the existing wiring to be upgraded. While the focus of this subject is on existing properties, wiring for new construction projects is also briefly discussed.


Seizing Today's Opportunities of Cable, Telephone and Internet Services is designed to assist property owners, managers and developers in better understanding the latest information regarding:

* needs of residents;

* capabilities of new and existing wiring infrastructure;

* evaluating current services and providers;

* evaluating current contracts;

* terminating existing providers;

* new services, providers and contract options;

* rules and regulations effecting options;

* critical, new contract language;

* key negotiation strategies; and

* ancillary income opportunities.

But this video is only a beginning. Accessing colleagues, articles and experts dealing with these subjects on a daily basis will be the next important step in mastering these subjects. "It is important to become a student of these subjects. There are constant changes in technology, services, and service provider options, as well as the rules and regulations governing these at both the state and federal levels. The only way to make certain the right services are available for residents and that a contract is properly negotiated with the right service provider, is to become a good student," says Kessler.

When asked what he believes this video will do for those who use it as a critical business tool, Arbury states, "Because the technology and providers are changing so fast, this video is an absolute necessity for understanding how to provide the best services for your residents. The knowledge delivered in the video is mind-boggling in its scope and depth. We just let the experts talk and they nailed every part of what owner/managers need to do. To paraphrase a movie critic, I give it a definite `two thumbs up.'"

Special Thanks To:
Lyn Lansdale
Vice President
AvalonBay Communities

Laurie Baker
Vice President
Camden Property Trust

Lori L. Reeves
Director of Information Technology
Forest City Residential

Scott Wiggins
Assistant Vice President
United Dominion Realty Trust

Steve Buck
ZOM Residential

Brian Warner
Vice President
ZOM Residential

Additional Resources:

NAA: Maureen Lambe

NMHC: Jim Arbury

InteliCable: Larry Kessler
COPYRIGHT 2001 National Apartment Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Date:Jun 1, 2001

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