If you’re moving, you have a lot on your plate already—you don’t want to add to it. However, moving into a new apartment complex can bring an extra challenge: trying to sort out your internet provider.
The good news is that fiber internet is definitely available in apartments. Unfortunately, whether it’s going to be available in your apartment is a different story. Let’s dive in and explore all the angles.
What’s required for a fiber connection?
A fiber connection requires a few things to function. First, the fiber lines need to be laid. This is usually not an issue. However, how close these lines get to the apartment building can be a bottleneck.
Basically, while part of the infrastructure will be fiber, it’s difficult to get fiber all the way into your home unless the apartment complex already has it. This means you may not see quite the same performance as a fiber setup in a standalone home. For more details, check out our complete guide to how fiber works.
Running fiber to every single apartment within a building can get pricey and disruptive to residents, so apartment building owners may opt for a fiber-to-the-curb (FTTC) approach that runs a line to each building and then distributes that signal the rest of the way. They may also opt for a single node to the entire complex.
In less technical terms, there are a few ways an apartment could be outfitted for a fiber connection, defined by whether the fiber optic cable goes all the way to your unit or not, and some are going to provide better internet service than others. Unfortunately, residents rarely have a say in the matter.
Let’s talk about fiber availability
Another limiting factor in fiber availability is simply whether you live in a location that has fiber at all. Fiber remains one of the least available of all internet types. Traditional cable and DSL internet are easier to implement because they piggyback on existing infrastructure—coaxial cables used for television service (cable) and phone lines (DSL). Fiber internet utilizes fiber optic cables, which is a newer technology and is likely not to have already been installed in many areas, particularly in rural areas.
The reality is that large metropolitan areas are more likely to have fiber service—and choice of internet provider in general—whereas rural areas tend to have fewer options.
Can all apartments get fiber?
All fiber providers could service apartments—there’s nothing that prevents them from doing so. That said, even if there’s fiber in your area, there’s no guarantee that it’ll be available in your apartment.
In fact, even if the provider wants to offer it in your building, the landlord may not be interested, or the renters association may move to block it due to installation disruptions (or any other reason). There’s really no way to predict whether a given internet service provider is available in an apartment building besides simply calling and asking.
How to get fiber in your apartment
Assuming that fiber is available in your town or city, your next hurdle is getting it to your apartment. Many newer apartments now are offering media packages to residents. Essentially, the apartment building or complex chooses an internet provider for the residents and bundles the cost into your rent. You then just purchase your own router and plug it into the Ethernet jack to get online.
The good news is that, in our experience, these media packages tend to be fiber. The bad news is that, if they’re not, you’re out of luck. Since these packages are usually rolled into your rent, you’d have to basically pay for two internet services to go with a different provider—if your building is even wired for one.
Speaking of wiring, it can be a pretty involved process, and we’d venture to say that most apartment complexes won’t approve the disruption to other residents. This means that if you want a certain internet provider, you really need to shop around and see which apartments in your area offer it in their media packages.
Some apartments may advertise this info as part of listings. If not, your best bet is probably just calling around to complexes you’re interested in and asking what ISP they use. If your apartment doesn’t have a media package, they will probably be able to tell you which providers are available for you to choose from.
Home is where the fiber is
Whether you’re moving to a new apartment or just looking for new options in your current place, fiber is definitely a possibility. There may be a few hoops to jump through, but we’re big fiber fans around here, so we definitely think it’s worthwhile. Check out our roundup of the best fiber providers to learn more.
Dave Schafer is a freelance writer with a passion for making technical concepts easy for anyone to understand. He’s been covering the world of gadgets, tech, and the internet for over 8 years, with a particular focus on TV and internet service providers. When he’s not writing, Dave can be found playing guitar or camping with his family and golden retriever, Rosie.
Bri Field has a background in academia, research writing, and brand marketing. She has edited scientific publications, conference papers, digital content, and technical communications. As Assigning Editor, she enjoys ensuring all content is accurate, clear, and helpful. In her free time, you can find her in the kitchen trying a new recipe, out on a hike, or working through her massive TBR list.