New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



Down to the Wire

Feeling visually assaulted by unsightly satellite dish farms that have sprung up on your building’s balconies and rooftops? Frustrated that you’re paying for 200-plus channels and still can’t watch the crucial game between the Giants and the Dallas Cowboys? Sick of the what seems like miles of wiring for multiple televisions sets and high-speed internet access in your apartment that you struggle, for aesthetic reasons, to keep hidden? Satellite subscribers fret no more.

DIRECTV, a satellite TV company, has introduced a single-wire solution for multiple-dwelling units, including co-ops and condos. For more than ten years now, those seeking an alternative to cable television or wishing for specific programming, such as foreign language channels and sporting events, have been subscribing to satellite television services sometimes at extra cost and inconvenience for installation, and some even at a limited service. Introduced this past July, DIRECTV’s new single-wire technology is attempting to change that. Now, from a single wire, residents can access the full complement of services DIRECTV has to offer, surf the web, and soon, talk long distance over the internet.

Previously, to ensure that you received all the national, local, sports, and ethnic programming you wanted delivered to your set, several wires had to be installed for the various satellites your specific programming required. In many cases, depending on your building’s structure (especially if it was constructed over five years ago), it would be difficult, if not impossible, to run multiple wires into each apartment. Not being able to do that meant not being able to receive the entire range of DIRECTV’s services or get satellite TV on multiple television sets in your home.

To solve this problem, DIRECTV came up with a plug-and-play device, known as a “backbone,” that runs a single coaxial or fiber optic cable into each apartment. The backbone, “a not-at-all-big box,” explains Daren Benzi, DIRECTV’s vice president of sales, “is usually hidden in a building’s communications closet, serves up to 64 units each, and can be applied to both new and existing properties. It can take advantage of existing coaxial and fiber optic cable wires already running throughout your building. Most importantly, it eliminates the need for multiple wires to and within each residence,” thus enabling DIRECTV to combine all its services and more in a single wire to multiple set-top boxes and digital video recorders in each home.

Working in conjunction with MDU Communications, DIRECTV has already deployed this new technology at Tribeca Green, a 274-unit luxury rental property in lower Manhattan, and is in the process of installing it into co-ops and condos around the city, such as Astor Place, a luxury condominium going up in the East Village.

Single-wire technology is not geared solely to high-end luxury buildings. In fact, because it is a single wire, “you’re going to see significant savings in capital costs, equipment, and in labor,” says Sheldon Nelson, CEO of MDU Communications, “especially when retrofitting an existing building – if you already have wires in place – the capital savings are significant since you don’t have to pull in additional wires.” Boards should take note: MDU also offers a substantial discount to properties that choose to outfit their entire building with single-wire technology and employ DIRECTV on a bulk basis.

In a property with an existing cable infrastructure, system installation can be completed within 30 days. For individual resident installations, the single wire can be installed in an hour. “Previously if we had to run a second line and hook up multiple high-definition receivers, we could have been in that suite for four hours. It makes a huge difference,” observes Nelson.

With the single-wire solution, what subscribers can get in DIRECTV’s services are high-definition channels; DVR (digital video recorder) capability; pay-per-view movies and events; 30-plus audio music channels; and access to local and national programming; as well as international language programming, including Filipino, South Asian, Vietnamese, Italian, Chinese, and Spanish channels. In addition, DIRECTV’s partners, like MDU, offer broadband service packages.

Historically, cable television has had the advantage of a single wire and has been employing the use of broadband along its wires for some time now. However, the advent of the single-wire solution promises to make DIRECTV more competitive. DIRECTV’s backbone can also integrate with upcoming technology seamlessly, notes Benzi. “We’ve built in a path now for future upgrades and technology advances. We’re committed to delivering the full DIRECTV experience for all our customers in the multi-family market. The single-wire solution is the first advancement in that area and there will be others.”

For managers, boards, and individual owners, the benefits of outfitting your entire building are twofold, notes Nelson. “The days of having to put a dish on your balcony are over. Not only does the single-wire solution simplify the installation to each individual unit, but does so within the residence as well, and it is also a ‘value-added’ proposition to your property.”

Interested boards and managers can find more information at or

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