Building ServicesPre-lease Issues

Transparency Coming to Office Buildings’ Internet Connectivity

wifi-highspeedReliable high-speed internet access is mission critical to businesses today.  With rapidly changing technological improvements from video conferences to 3-D printing, a building’s connectivity must be vetted by tenants early in the site selection process as a key infrastructure element with the same level of due diligence as are utilities and HVAC.  Unfortunately, there has been a lack of transparency as to buildings’ internet connectivity which can vary greatly.  Moving to a building with inaccurate information about a building’s internet connectivity can lead to unforeseen costs and delays, not to mention loss of business.  That, however, is changing in New York and soon in Chicago as well as other cities across the country. Bringing transparency to broadband connectivity is WiredScore (http://wiredscore.com/), a New York based company that launched in September 2013 a certification program in conjunction with Mayor Bloomberg and an Advisory Board that includes Cisco, Google, Ebay, real estate executives and start-ups.  In New York, the program is called “WiredNYC” which they describe as taking “the best of LEED Certification program, NYC Restaurant Rating, and CarFax and applies them to broadband.”  The objective is “to develop a transparent and accessible public building certification system of existing broadband infrastructure in commercial buildings and to accelerate the deployment of the latest broadband technologies in the City.”

With Chicago’s growing technology and digital media economy, WiredScore is entering Chicago’s market (and other markets nationally).  Like LEED certification of buildings for environmental sustainability, this is a completely voluntary program; however, the market will reward building owners that offer reliable robust internet connectivity.  This transparency is beneficial to both building owners and tenants.

How Wired Certification Works?

Landlords take a survey of their building’s internet connectivity on http://www.wiredscore.com   WiredScore then independently audits the building and measures three factors:

  1. Building Connectivity –  the number of internet service providers, quality and speed of connections and access to cabling in the building.
  2. Infrastructure – physical infrastructure including number of entry points, designated utility space, risers, and redundancies.
  3. Readiness – the willingness of a building  to boost its connectivity.  This is closely linked to its future connectivity quality.

Similar to how LEED ranks a building’s environmental sustainability, WiredScore then certifies the building as:

  1. Platinum – best in class connectivity with highest level of service provider choice offered as well as infrastructure to best minimize service interruption.
  2. Gold – strong likelihood of access to multiple providers and infrastructure that minimizes service interruption.
  3. Silver – connectivity quality and supporting infrastructure adequate for most commercial tenants.
  4. Connected – meets minimum standards for a business “not fully dependent on advanced broadband-supported applications to operate”.

How to access this database?

Tenants and their advisors can access this database at no cost at http://wiredscore.com  Also, the CoStar property database will be tracking Wired Certification so that brokers can easily assess if a building being considered meets the tenant’s requirements.

Progress

Since being launched in September 2013, there are just over 200 office buildings (140M sf) participating including such owners as SL Green, Brookfield, JP Morgan, and Hines.  In Chicago, the first pre-certified Wired Platinum building will be 150 North Riverside which is under construction and scheduled to be complete in 2017.  Like in New York, WiredScore is working with Chicago Mayor Emanuel’s office on the Wired Certification platform.

Incorporating telecommunication requirements into business and lease negotiations.

Savvy tenants and their advisors will not only “look under the hood” of the buildings to assess their level of connectivity, but they should also incorporate into their negotiations the tenant’s telecommunication requirements.  From the initial RFP to the lease, the tenant should define its rights and the landlord’s responsibilities in providing broadband connectivity to the building.  To illustrate, if it is determined that additional service needs to be brought to the building, that cost and/or allowing such access should be borne by the landlord if it is benefiting the building overall.  If this is neglected in pre-lease and lease negotiations, this could be costly and painful for the tenant.

For additional information on WiredScore, please feel free to contact their co-founder: Arie Barendrecht at arie@wiredscore.com

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