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The Push for Better Fiber Networks Should Urge Pittsburgh’s Commercial Building Owners to Action

At the beginning of October 2021, 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 create their 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 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. Still, in the wake of a global pandemic that pushed connectivity to the forefront of our 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 using 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.

Profitable commercial real estate developers know the key to success is to balance efficient buildouts and operations with meeting tenant needs. Setting up shop in a building without the best possible connectivity is likely a deal-breaker for businesses, especially as they look to make themselves as competitive as possible when they repopulate space in commercial properties in the coming year.

Fiber Network Benefits

An in-depth webinar on fiber construction to commercial buildings, created by DQE for Pittsburgh’s Building Owners and Managers Association (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.

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.

Contact us today and we’ll help your property stick out among the rest with our robust fiber-optic network services.