BROADBAND ARTICLE SERIES --
© Copyright 2001 Landlord.com
For Commercial Buildings
By A.J. “Tony” DeBella
© 2001, A.J. “Tony” DeBella
years about the only amenities that tenants in commercial office buildings
expected were the basics: parking, utilities, basic phone service, etc. But no
longer. Today, business tenants also want speed – as in high-speed Internet
access. And property owners and managers who don’t provide it are in great
danger of losing their competitive edge.
According to a survey by the Building
managers Association, high-speed Internet access is the service most requested
by tenants that are not already wired for speed. Building owners have taken
note, too, as it is also the top priority new service they are planning.
Cahners In-Stat Group has reported that
“owners of MTU buildings (multi-tenant units), apartments, offices,
condominiums, hotels, airports, are rushing to provide” high-speed Internet
According to an article in Real
Estate Issues, published by the American Society of Real Estate Counselors,
data transmission exceeds voice transmission across telecommunications lines,
and data traffic is growing at a rate of 30-plus percent annually.
GartnerGroup, a U.S. market analyst,
says that bandwidth requirements in local area networks has increased from four
megabits per second to 100 megabits per second, and that bandwidth requirements
for wide area networks will increase from 200 gigabits per second to up to 100
terabits per second.
throw this into the mix: There are an estimated 150,000 MTUs in the United
States with six or more business tenants and only 4 percent of commercial office
buildings are linked to fiber-optic lines.
it all up and it’s clear there is going to be a lot of activity on the
broadband front in the next few years, and with reason.
simple fact is, providing broadband connectivity is smart business. It makes a
property more desirable, and thus potentially increases the building’s value
and generates higher rents. It reduces turnover and downtime between leases, and
stabilizes tenancy rates. It allows more customers to be served by smaller
networks, creating economies of scale that drive down the once-high cost of
delivering the necessary bandwidth.
what’s the problem?
Plain Old Telephone Systems.
commercial buildings utilize a relic of telecommunications days passed: old
twisted copper wires. While these systems do provide Internet connectivity,
they’re slow, frustrating (too many busy signals), and can limit the size and
kinds of files that can be sent or received.
that are wired for speed utilize fiber optic lines instead of these old copper
dinosaurs. Data move through fiber optic lines in photons, which are
significantly faster than the electrons that copper wires carry. As a result,
more information is transmitted, faster, than through the conventional “gray
of the technology issues related to installing the appropriate broadband
infrastructure are covered in accompanying articles (see “The Last 100
Yards”). However, it is important to note that gaining the maximum value –
both near-term and long-term – from wiring your building for speed requires
property managers, owners, and landlords to consider a number of factors beyond
a cliché that today’s technology is tomorrow’s old news. But it’s true.
It is imperative that you leave yourself room to grow. For example, right now
your tenants may only need 10 megabytes of bandwidth per user, and your current
backbone riser may be fine. But new technologies may demand more bandwidth,
which will require a larger riser.
Given the fact that businesses – large and small – have come to rely so
completely on Internet access, it is likely that tenants will want some form of
service redundancy to protect them if a line goes out.
Demand will vary with your tenants. However, if you have the capacity to deliver
100 megabytes of bandwidth per user, you will probably be in a good competitive
minimum, most tenants will want high-speed voice and data capabilities. However,
you should also be able to provide videoconferencing, web site hosting, and
network management as needed.
Too often, technology firms do not have sufficient understanding of construction
and design. Advanced telecom networks require space for cable, fiber, and other
support technology. Vendors must understand not only the equipment, but also how
it actually fits into the structure.
Always try to find companies that have a proven track record. Obviously, check
references. But also seek out contractors that have been certified by partners
for specific functions such as cabling, fiber optic network installation, etc.
Be sure to get written assurances that all work meets or exceeds industry
standards, too, and ask for options for extended warranties.
images, data, and voice exchanges are essential in the new economy. Whether it
is an e-mail between offices or transmission of a highly detailed graphic like
an architectural drawing, the information must be effectively and reliably
transmitted from point A to point B, every time.
should not only have experience in the design and installation of advanced
systems, but also in the appropriate industry sector. There are no guarantees
that what works in a hospital will work in a hotel, for example, and the nature
of technology argues against a one-size-fits-all approach. It just makes better
sense to work with someone who knows a particular industry, and can help create
a network that will keep pace with future change.
firms that design and install high-speed telecom networks are in big cities. So
if they get a job outside of their region, they must find subcontractors
wherever the job happens to be – subcontractors who are hired more for their
availability than their expertise. It’s best to use vendors that have a
national network of subcontractors that can deliver consistent, high-quality,
bottom line is this:
connectivity is cheaper than ever. Installing that capability now isn’t just a
cost of doing business – it’s an investment in your future. Beyond that, it
could well be one of your best insurance policies against half-filled properties.
Can you define
“broadband” and compare it to “bandwidth?”
I hear a lot of people use these words but they all seem to mean
Broadband is the combination of the multimedia services, meaning voice, video,
and data, over the same link. Bandwidth is a measure of the information carrying capability
of a backbone infrastructure to provide broadband connectivity.
So, “broadband” is the name of a type of service or package of
services and “bandwidth” is the quantity of data that can be carried over a
system. You need bandwidth in order
to have broadband.
If I wire my
building for broadband, what kind of performance can my tenants expect? Exactly
what is it they will be able to do that my competitor’s tenants won’t be
able to do, or as well?
Tenants will have the ability to have the facility to support all voice,
video and data. The building will
have to provide the bandwidth to handle the performance. The competitor won’t
have high-speed connection or multimedia access combined.
Where do the fiber
optic cables that connect to my building come from?
Who owns them? How do I know
if they are in my building or are they everywhere?
This fiber optic cabling is referred to as the last mile.
They come from what are called the points of presence or “pop” sights
that are connected directly back to the local service provider central office.
The cables are owned by the building’s local service provider.
The only way to know is to ask the landlord what the service providing
capabilities are in the building. More
than 90 % of buildings are not wired.
How much does it
cost to upgrade and connect a building?
Roughly, depending on A, B, or C class building anywhere from $1500 to
$2000 per floor.
What kind of company
can do this type of work if I decide to upgrade my building? How do I find them?
Engineering and professional service companies engaged the in the design
and construction of fiber optic networks can upgrade your building.
Local service providers have contractual relationships with this sort of
company and should be able to provide this information.
Would my tenants be
free to select any service provider they choose?
Absolutely. Divestiture of
the Bell Operating Company and AT&T resulted in the ability to connect in
any communication environment, i.e., the advent of local exchange.
can I get more information?
By this I mean the really basic stuff.
is one of the best telecom websites for local exchange carriers providing
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