We know that internet access is unarguably one of the single most important services in student accommodation. Use of the internet dominates students’ lives, and little wonder, as university course materials and resources move online and as the number of wifi enabled devices students own easily surpasses the number of students in accommodation buildings. The average student now arrives at their chosen accommodation with an average of five wireless devices, from smartphones to tablets, wireless printers, speakers and games consoles.
Today’s 18–24-year-olds live online. In fact, when they’re not asleep they’re online, creating and consuming hours of content via a myriad of devices.
– Five wifi-connected devices
– 60% of time online spent using mobile devices
– 6 hours a day using these devices
– 2 hours a day consuming IPTV/VoD
– 58 hours per week total media consumption
But what of the students of 2020?
In the spring of this year, ASK4 commissioned Red Brick Research to perform a study exploring the connected living habits, attitudes and expectations of today’s 14–16-year-olds in the UK, Germany and Spain. While 16–18-year-olds have been widely researched, the 14–16-year-old segment of the post-millennial cohort is still largely under-researched, and yet this group are the future residents of the student accommodation buildings already in planning for 2020 and beyond.
The results of the survey questioning 3,000 European teenagers (1,000 in each country) provide a fascinating insight into the future connectivity demands of the students of 2020.
Here are five standout characteristics of the future residents of European student accommodation:
1. Device ownership and usage will continue to grow
European teens have an average of nearly 10 wireless-enabled smart devices and systems connected within their homes. Almost all have smartphones and most have computing devices (laptops/tablets), typically in their own rooms. More than half have smart TVs and a third have other smart appliances and entertainment systems like wireless printers, Chromecast and Sonos speakers.
These numbers become even more pronounced when we look at just those European teens intending to go to university. These 14–16-year-olds have an average of 10.4 smart devices or systems in their homes, compared to 8.5 for those not intending to go to university. They are also more likely to have smart appliances and entertainment systems. And if they have access to devices, they’re using them…a lot.
Nearly all surveyed teens said they use smartphones on a daily basis, and almost three quarters use computing devices and watch smart TVs each day. In addition, half are using smart devices and appliances like Chromecast, Now TV, Sonos, Amazon Echo and other home control systems every day.
This is a generation growing up with access to multiple, interconnected, wireless devices. For the students of 2020, use of the internet is more than deeply embedded in their lifestyles – use of the internet is the foundation upon which their lifestyles are built.
2. Seamless device-to-device connectivity is an expectation and not a desire
Over two thirds of European teens intending to go to university say they would find it ‘annoying’ if they could not connect their devices together over wifi (eg laptop to printer, phone to speakers).
Expectations for connected living run high for this device-rich generation. When they move away from parents’ homes, either to student accommodation or their own homes, three quarters expect to be able to use their devices to chat online with friends and family. Almost half also expect to be able to stream content from their mobile devices to a smart TV, connect to their wireless printer using a variety of devices and send music from their mobile devices to a wireless sound system.
One in five also expect to find smart systems and infrastructure in their accommodation, enabling them to control the lighting, heating or door locking systems via their smartphone.
3. You can expect a severe reaction from teens to any loss of connectivity
Over half of European teens said they would feel ‘frustrated’, ‘isolated’ and ‘angry’ if they were not able to communicate online or connect their devices together as they would at home. One in five said they would feel ‘insecure’ and ‘anxious’.
UK teens reported the strongest feelings overall, with one in three saying they would feel ‘anxious’. Spanish teens were significantly more likely to feel ‘angry’ compared with their UK and German counterparts.
4. Privacy matters and 14–16-year-olds will take steps to protect it
You might think that growing up in a world built around digital communication would mean European teens are more likely to adopt a complacent approach to online privacy. You would be wrong. Familiarity, it seems, breeds concern. European teens are both privacy aware and privacy savvy. Two thirds said they worry about their privacy when using devices connected to the internet. More than half think they can be tracked too easily when using their devices and that there will be too much information about them online as they get older.
Almost all teens have taken steps to protect their online privacy, including blocking friend requests, changing privacy settings, regularly changing passwords and avoiding sharing personal information.
5. Reliability is more important than speed
In the last year alone, average connection speeds in the UK, Spain and Germany have increased by 26%.3 Within the UK purpose-built student accommodation sector, connection speeds have seen a tenfold increase in recent years, with the majority of ASK4 connected users now enjoying base speeds of 100Mb/s, with some accessing premium speeds of 1Gb/s.4
So when is ‘superfast’ fast enough?
When we asked European teens what mattered most to them about their home internet connection, 34% said reliability was the most important factor. Twenty-three per cent said coverage throughout their home was most important, while just 21% said speed.
Overall, almost three quarters said that factors relating to the consistency and quality of their connection mattered more to them than having the fastest connection possible. As connection speeds increase, outstripping the capability of most devices, users’ preoccupation with speed is diminishing. For European teens, a reliable service enabling them to do what they want online quickly and seamlessly is what really matters.
Ready for the class of 2020?
We know that today’s students are demanding consumers, particularly when it comes to their use of and reliance on the internet. The class of 2020 will be just as demanding, if not more so, with high expectations for the type of connected lifestyles they expect to live, and the device-to-device connectivity they expect to enjoy, once they fly the nest.
The challenge for student accommodation operators will be ensuring that each building’s wired and wireless internet service is able to meet the usage expectations of residents, and support the type of device-to-device connectivity and connected infrastructure these students expect.
As a specialist internet service provider focusing on student accommodation, with over 160,000 users throughout Europe, ASK4 has a wealth of experience in delivering a service perfectly attuned to the needs of our student customers.