High speed internet connectivity with any business is crucial. Repositioning older properties, the value-add propositions cost less than new construction. But real estate owners and developers should be mindful of the fiber optics requirements and some of their complications when upgrading commercial property.
With Google’s $1 billion investment in its Hudson Square campus, the properties will need to be overhauled to make them tech ready. With that campus alone, 315 Hudson St. was built in 1907, 345 Hudson St. was erected in 1931 and St. John’s Terminal’s construction dates back to 1934.
That’s a lot of charm in the architectural styles but the original designs certainly weren’t created with the internet in mind. Plus, anticipate heavy usage. Paul Darrah, Google’s director of real estate NYC has said the company is growing at a rate of 1,400 employees each year.
With Midtown, historically the heavily favored business district, its aging building stock needs to ramp up the upgrades to compete with new product in Lower Manhattan and Hudson Yards.
Shrihari Pandit, the founder and CEO of Stealth Communications, an internet provider, explains what’s needed to achieve optimal connectivity in upgrading older buildings. This starts with the fiber hardware and technology.
“The point of entry is a conduit that connects the basement to the underground conduits in the street. It is essential to have one (or more) carrier-neutral point of entries for fiber providers to be able to pull their fiber into the building. The riser system is the way to pull fiber up to each floor,” explains Pandit.
Carrier neutrality refers to an external data centers that allow interconnection between many colocations (rented data centers) and interconnection providers. Carrier-neutral data centers are not tied to any one service provider (telecommunications, ISP, or other), which provides diversity and flexibility for the client, according to Digital Realty Trust’s blog.
Digital Realty is a REIT that invests in carrier neutral data centers and provides computer networking services. Its blog further explains that without carrier neutrality, with only one option for service, without competition, the internet customer could be charged higher prices and be subject to a more limited bandwidth.
Pandit opines that a robust marketplace of fiber providers best serves tenants. Because unlike gas and electricity utilities, there are significant technical differences in fiber connectivity. He advises landlords and developers to look for redundant connections with diverse paths. “The more choices available, the better the tenants’ needs can be served.”
In renovating the buildings, if a point of entry does not exit, one will need to be built. However, the cost should be seen as a capital investment that will improve marketability and retention, according to Pandit.
Next, riser systems need to be installed, so the high-speed internet can reach all floors. Pandit suggests adding stacked telecom closets on each floor where feasible. “This makes for easier access for fiber providers to reach additional tenants, minimizes drilling and other disruptions to connect new companies.”
Finally, he advises pre-wiring the space before tenants move in, to ensure immediate connections and productivity.