Push for better fiber should urge commercial building owners to action
At the beginning of October, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) announced near completion on two projects totaling $95 million that will add 220 miles of fiber optic cable under the highway. The new infrastructure marks a major communications system upgrade that will back up the turnpike’s at-capacity microwave towers, boost connectivity and support automated tolling capabilities. In a similar leveling up of infrastructure, cities across the nation are entering into public-private partnerships to move forward with creating their own networks to bring better internet to downtown thoroughfares, business parks or in the case of Pittsburgh, to connect city-owned buildings via a unified fiber network.
These major fiber network upgrades highlight the moves taking place to boost fundamental infrastructure and improve network operations. The next group primed to act is commercial building owners. Historically, fiber internet wasn’t top of mind for commercial building designers, but in the wake of a global pandemic that pushed connectivity to the forefront of our collective subconscious, fiber has become a key differentiator for building operators and one that will be top of mind as businesses eye a return to the office.
Commercial buildings and the need for fiber networks
According to the Building Owners & Managers Association of Pittsburgh (BOMA)’s Q2 2021 International COVID-19 Commercial Real Estate Impact Study, many commercial office space decision-makers are optimistic about the return to work:
78% say their in-person office is vital to operations, though they anticipate the use of the space will be different in the future.
Not everyone will shift to full-time remote work, but hybrid will be popular. Respondents say about 43% of workers will return to the office full-time in the next year and a half and only 26% of workers will telework either full-time or for most of the week.
64% of those surveyed said they want building owners and operators to make additional investments in infrastructure and technology that will help mitigate future health emergencies, or platforms to support organizational culture, connectivity, productivity and well-being.
Fiber network benefits
An in-depth webinar on fiber construction to commercial buildings, created by DQE for BOMA, highlights the key drivers of fiber expansions across the city. Number one is emerging technology. Cloud computing, edge computing, data mining, the Internet of Things (IoT) and even 5G all represent newer technologies that are in demand. They also require extremely high-performance network solutions that can handle vast amounts of data rapidly with low latency. As more businesses migrate their workloads to the cloud, ultra-fast connections and access is a must, and traditional copper cable networks can’t keep pace.
In an era of growing cyberattacks, security is also a major consideration. Here too, fiber offers significant benefits over competing connectivity technologies because it is inherently secure and harder to tap without being detected.
These trends show the urgency for businesses to invest now to meet company digital transformation goals, however, fiber investment also brings a significant advantage to the owner or developer.
A survey of 150 U.S. office leasing decision-makers says that a building’s internet connectivity is the second most important feature to tenants seeking office space. A similar study indicates that 80% of employees report that it’s important to work in a technologically advanced office.
From an operations standpoint, fiber internet makes buildings smart by enabling the use of IoT capable devices, such as sensors, cameras and alarms that automate building operations around heating, ventilation, security and other critical functions. Embracing smart buildings helps prevent equipment failures, which in turn reduces operational expenses. Since fiber can last up to 40 years or more, it is an optimal way to prepare a building for advances in technology in relation to smart buildings or tenant demands.
To maximize competitiveness, building developers will need to ensure they can provide the high-speed connectivity tenants require, and savvy prospects will look for buildings with networking infrastructure that can support their digital transformation needs. Just as the PTC and city of Pittsburgh have found, the answer to meeting tenant demand lies in future-proofing facilities with fiber optic networks.
To receive a free network assessment with a DQE associate, visit go.dqecom.com/inno or call 1-866-GO-FIBER.
DQE is a fiber optic internet and data networking provider for businesses and carriers. A subsidiary of Duquesne Light Holdings, DQE was established in 1997 to provide customizable network services. The company’s continually expanding fiber optic network currently spans thousands of miles and over 2,400 buildings, 118 business parks and 17 data centers.