When businesses look into new office space, reducing operational costs is often top of mind. Office leases and utilities, along with payroll, are among the largest “fixed” costs for the average professional firm. Close behind is the “bundle” of technologies used in day-to-day operations, most of which are data-driven applications ranging from specialized software to common voicemail features.
Until recently, technology didn’t factor into the office space equation. But with the increasing need for advanced data and telephony capabilities, choosing an office building with the right network infrastructure can make or break the potential for performance and savings.
The shift in network technology
It used to be the case that every building had the same or very similar network options — DSL or cable. Two major shifts in telecommunications have made it essential to know more about an office building’s existing network.
The first is the increasing popularity of fiber optic networks — data networks that transmit at superior rates and more reliable than traditional copper cables. The second is the emergence of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), a now popular phone technology that allows audio phone calls to travel over data networks instead of traditional phone lines. The two technologies offer a variety of benefits to the business world — including affordable long-distance rates, integrated communications and fast, consistent connectivity — making them near-ubiquitous among modern companies.
These two shifts in the telecommunications industry have made it very difficult for modern businesses to deploy enterprise-level telecommunications at an affordable price using traditional networks. Buildings “wired” with outdated networks simply can’t offer tenants the same level of performance or cost-savings created with fiber optic technology.
How a building’s network influences operational costs
Choosing the right office building and network infrastructure starts with understanding your business’s needs. This includes considering your data usage and annual costs as well as your telephone usage and important phone features. With these in mind, you can assess which buildings have the right network for your business.
For firms that require advanced Internet and telephony — high bandwidth and overall reliability — buildings provisioned by a reputable fiber-optic service provider are the only option. Without a pre-existing fiber network, the cost of improving the existing technology would be passed down to the company. In the best-case scenario, the tenant business would take on a high monthly premium that covers both the installation and service charge.
Buildings with multiple fiber-optic providers will offer the best value for the average business. Competition between specialized telecommunications companies makes for lower rates and improved customer service, especially when compared with offices wired by a single incumbent service provider. Older buildings with a longstanding, and often complacent, service provider are more likely to have outdated technology.
Choosing a new space solely for the affordable lease can leave a company with fewer options and higher costs when it comes to telecom. Businesses that want to stay open to the potential for business-grade Internet and telecommunications can mitigate the risks of an older network by leasing in properly developed buildings.
Evaluating a building’s network
There are a handful of straightforward questions to ask property managers to find out what network environment to expect. Just as you’d ask about utilities and other fees, ask about the network options:
1) Are they outfitted for multiple providers?
The providers with which a property management firm works can affect the value of their space. Innovative management will engage leading business services and ensure their tenants have access to the best the market can offer. Be sure to find out what the property managers have planned for their tenants.
Competition and type of network are both key.
2) Are they on a traditional telephony network or fiber?
If other costs are too hard to pass up, be sure there is at least one fiber service provider. This will save overhead costs down the road if better telecom becomes part of improving operations. Access to fiber will also improve VoIP service performance and can potentially be bundled with Internet rates for certain providers.
3) Can the building be lit by another fiber optic provider?
Sometimes property managers won’t allow another service provider into the building depending on their relationship with existing vendors or issues with installing the fiber cables. In this case, the cost of doing business at this location goes beyond overhead and into limiting the tools available to enhancing business communications.
Taking telecommunications into account
Telephony and Internet connectivity have become instrumental to business success. By the same token, they’ve also become growing expenses. With a few questions for your current or prospective service provider and property managers, the costs can be reduced and the technology improved during an office transition. Once a business understands its own telecommunication and budgetary priorities, it can find an office space that meets them.
Claudio Nespeca leads Operations and Project Management and directs Sales & Marketing strategies for Epik Networks, a leading VOIP and internet service provider headquartered in Toronto. His expertise spans more than 17 years in the North American telecom sector.