Joseph Rozanc

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:38

Wanna be a high-tech magnet?

A short time ago, high-tech meant high-speed elevators and word processors.

Today, real estate professionals are faced with understanding high-speed broadband and microprocessors. But the accoutrements associated with the 21st century Digital Age don't need to be confusing, particularly when it comes to upgrading your building to attract high-tech tenants and accommodate your current tenants' e-business needs.

Updating the communications infrastructure in your property begins with understanding the latest high-tech buzzwords -- bandwidth and broadband. In today's economy, some tenants may still only use the Internet for e-mail, but others utilize it to share large data files between offices in different cities. The key to making these transactions work smoothly is broadband connectivity. As more and more information gets sent over the Internet, companies require better and faster ways to get that information from point A to point B.

Bandwidth refers to both the speed and capacity of a particular type of communications method (e.g. copper wire vs. fiber optics vs. fixed wireless). Broadband or high bandwidth is needed to transfer large amounts of data and video quickly.

The big upgrade

To enable broadband connectivity in your building, it's necessary to upgrade the telecommunications infrastructure in commercial real estate properties. The 21st century office needs to be more agile than ever. From an infrastructure standpoint, that means developing a broadband strategy specifically for your property.

The first step in the process is an audit of the building's telecom infrastructure. An audit should evaluate the basement telephone room, risers and rooftop. Ask these questions:

  • Do you have room to provide access to additional broadband vendors?

  • Can you expand riser capacity by removing abandoned cable?

  • Is there space for additional wireless broadband providers in your roof and equipment penthouses?

Negotiate for choices

After your audit is complete, negotiate service agreements with several communications vendors to enable your tenants to select the broadband services they want at a price they can afford. In addition, consider that different tenants may have different bandwidth requirements. By negotiating agreements with several providers, such as a fiber optic and fixed wireless company, you let your tenants select the lowest-cost option consistent with their needs.

Another key element in attracting companies to your property is to look for flexible and reliable communications providers that serve multiple cities, so tenants with different office locations will be able to use the same broadband vendor. Also, realize the importance of route diversity and redundancy.

Your tenants cannot afford any disruption of their communications and may want redundant broadband service from several vendors to ensure that mission critical data and computer applications are not lost or disrupted if a telecommunications cable is severed. The open floor plan

From a design standpoint, the 21st-century building should offer tenants space with open floor plans so modular furniture can be easily rearranged as companies grow. Work stations, equipped with broadband communication lines, are increasingly attractive for those with employees who drop by the office to plug in their laptop to check e-mail or send data.

Enhancing your property to attract the 21st century tenant isn't limited to office space. With broadband connectivity, elevators can be equipped with video screens, displaying up-to-the-minute information on stock prices, news and weather. Security desks can be equipped with video monitors, so tenants can view visitors from their computers.

The importance of marketing

Once you've signed agreements with broadband vendors and built out the infrastructure, it's important to market these attractive features to current and future tenants. Consider producing a brochure that illustrates the types of high-tech services your building offers. If some of the broadband amenities and technical jargon seem confusing to you, ask your providers to help you market your building's high-tech features.

Upgrading and maintaining the technological superiority of a commercial office building is vital to attracting and keeping tenants. By offering tenants competitively priced communications and state-of-the-art broadband amenities, you can ensure your building's competitive advantage. Joseph Rozanc is a real estate account manager for Winstar Communications Inc. in Pittsburgh.