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Developers feeling pressure to get the technology right

THE rapid pace of technological change has presented building managers and property developers with a new dilemma – what technology infrastructure should they implement?

In the mid-1990s broadband technology was only a consideration when a tenant was looking for office space. Today it is a tenant expectation.

Currently there are 71,500 corporate users of broadband technology, according to the 2003 Broadband Group Advisory Report.

Increasing corporate demand for high speed, high volume data transfer requires building managers and developers to carefully examine issues such as what technology to use, when to implement the infrastructure (pre or post-development) and what commercial opportunities are available.

The waters are further muddied by the advent of wireless technology, which has the potential to reduce the need for extensive cabling into tenancies.

Optic fibre is the most widely used at this time and is usually installed into lift wells or the ‘backbone’ of buildings. Tenancies can then be horizontally wired from this central infrastructure.

Ernst & Young IT advisory services senior manager Chris Webb said any system that was implemented needed to be future proofed so that money was not wasted implementing the wrong, or inappropriate amounts of, technology.

“It is still early days with wireless technology, however it could be around five years off mainstream acceptance,” he said.

“‘Do we need to cable this floor or are the tenants expecting to use wireless technology?’ are the questions developers need to ask.

“The use of wireless technology can potentially reduce the costs of a tenancy fit-out.”

With the right technological choices a building can increase its sale/resale value, reduce refit costs, attract premium tenants, yield additional revenue from business services and lease space to mobile and satellite towers. Building managers also have the opportunity to act as brokers between service providers and tenants.

Mr Webb said building developers and managers needed to talk to carriers and to organisations that could provide specialist IT advice.

“Property developers should use specialist telecommunications advisers when appropriate,” he said.

While Telstra and Optus dominate the market, Mr Webb said there was a market perception that many of the smaller companies were more competitive and agile.

Building managers and developers should apply caution when doing telecommunication deals and ensure the company they are signing up with has the staying power required, Mr Webb said.

Gibson Quai senior consultant Glyn Jenkins said the technology of blown fibre, a pipe containing 19 individual straws of around12 pairs of optic fibre run down the length of a building, was a flexible way of running various services to different tenancies.

“The pipe could be owned by the building manager and any new carrier’s wiring could be blown up the pipe to any existing tenancy,” he said.

Mr Jenkins said building man-agers only had a finite amount of space for wiring required by different carriers, and removal of unused wiring was difficult.

“Blown fibre would enable easy removal of disused fibre and would enable easy addition of new cabling into a building,” he said.

“If people don’t want to put cable in ground the main alternative is radio [wireless tech-nology], which is less capital intensive

“However this technology is currently less secure than a cable in the ground.”

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