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Panel advises building owners to get back in the telecom game

As the dust settles from the ‘tech wreck’ of early 2001, building owners and managers should take advantage of the lull to redevelop their telecom strategies, a panel of telecom experts advises. "This is the time to ask tenants what they want," said David Olsen, telecommunication services manager for Toronto-based TrizecHahn. "It’s time to get back in the game."

Olsen joined Boston Properties Director of Engineering Larry Morgan and San Francisco attorney Manuel Fishman to address the effects of the telecommunications market collapse during the "Managing Tenant Demand in Turbulent Times" panel, part of The Broadband Building & Technology Show held in Atlanta on Nov. 8 and 9. The panel also offered strategies for owners and managers who have contracts with — and tenants being served by — insolvent or bankrupt local exchange carriers.

According to Fishman, building owners and managers should begin to consider possible high-tech solutions individually, based on factors such as building size, location and — above all — tenant need, because many tenants were left out of initial telecom installation decisions in the late 1990s. Morgan added that his properties and tenants corroborate this advice: "The money now is in tenant retention and attraction," he said. "Treat telecom like a utility, just like water, power or voice transmission."

According to Olsen, an audit may be a good place to start, especially for those companies that already have contracts. "A lot of times, broadband can be an over-hyped term," he said. "What you have doesn’t measure up to perception." He told building owners to choose their buildings’ medium (copper, fiber optics or wireless), as well who will deliver the medium, up front.

In addition, Morgan emphasized the importance of gathering lots of information in order to secure back-up service in a market that may still experience a few financial hiccups. "Just because a telecom company has a fat bank account doesn’t equal success," he said. "Not all providers are equal."

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