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Telecommunications Infrastructure Design Process

Nov. 5, 2001
Broadband Implementation Special Report - Part 5 of 8

The process described in this paper applies to existing buildings that are being re-furbished as well as new buildings in which construction has not begun. If the building owner or developer has an in-house telecommunications department, the engineers and project managers in that department will manage these functions. It is increasingly commonplace for commercial real estate companies to utilize the services of an outside consulting firm that provides turnkey services to design, install and maintain the telecommunications infrastructure in the building. The consultant is typically a vendor-neutral company that can manage the process from inception to tenant occupancy and beyond, utilizing equipment and services from any manufacturer or service provider. Figure 3. shows the steps required to complete a comprehensive telecommunications infrastructure project. The shaded boxes show the steps that apply only to existing buildings under refurbishment. Detailed descriptions of each of the steps follow.

Each of these steps is described in detail in the sections below.

1. Tenant Surveys

Periodically, every building owner or manager should survey tenants to determine their satisfaction level with existing infrastructure and what their telecommunication needs are, or will be in the future. The data that is typically collected in a tenant survey includes, but is not limited to, the following:

· Current Voice (local and LD) provider
· Current Internet usage and provider
· Use of web hosting services
· Use of video and voice conferencing
· Television access (satellite or cable)
· VSAT or other satellite uplink use
· Current Telecom monthly cost
· Future growth plans
· Future telecom needs (various categories)
· Disaster preparedness and recovery plans

2. Site Survey

The site survey is designed to provide a document listing telecommunications equipment and bandwidth available in the building. The data that is typically collected in the site survey includes all relevant information about the existing telecommunications infrastructure in and on the building. This includes:

· Current Telecommunications Service providers in the building (copper, cable and fiber)
· Location in the building of entrance facilities
· Telecommunications infrastructure capacity in the building (copper, cable and fiber)
· Equipment in the main telco room (smart jacks, 66 blocks, routers, multiplexers)
· Status of rooftop access rights
· Existing satellite and wireless dishes on the rooftop including frequencies and service providers
· Location and capacity of telco closets on each floor
· Existing wiring for LAN/WAN

3. Inside-Wiring Survey

Inside wiring is the key driver of telecommunications solutions in all commercial buildings. In older buildings, copper is the predominant medium from the main telco closet in the basement to tenant suites. In newer buildings, copper, co-axial cable, and fiber optics may have been installed side by side. If CLEC's or wireless providers have obtained access to the building, fixed wireless and/or satellite antennas might be located on the roof and additional riser capacity may have been installed.

It is imperative that the building owner has a comprehensive map of the entire telecommunications infrastructure in the building. This one-time snapshot of the inside-wiring layout in the building and an assessment of the used and available capacity can then be updated on a regular basis. An analysis of the state of the internal wiring and growth needs of your tenants will help generate infrastructure upgrade plans.

Figure 3. Telecommunications Infrastructure Design Process

4. Rooftop Survey

Fixed wireless broadband service providers, wireless service providers, satellite TV companies and VSAT network providers are actively looking for rooftop access rights on many buildings. The rooftop is a very valuable asset that can generate additional revenue for a building owner. It is critical that the owner assesses the value of the rooftop to maximum revenue from this asset. Typical floor space in a large city might rent for $20-$40 per square foot. Rooftop space for an antenna could rent for $400 to $1000 per square foot.

Typically the telecommunications consultant will engage spectrum management vendors to perform rooftop surveys that identify and document all currently installed equipment on the rooftop and associated equipment in the building. In addition, a spectral analysis is performed, mapping all signals that impinge on the rooftop or any equipment on the rooftop. A map can be plotted showing a 360-degree horizontal spectral assessment and a second map will show vertical signals impinging on the rooftop (usually satellite downlinks). Every attempt is made to identify the source of the signals and document the power and frequency. This information is critical for the design and installation of any receiving or transmission equipment on the rooftop either by service providers or tenants.

During the construction of a building, it is critical that the rooftop design account for the potential weight of numerous large antennas and towers. As these towers are constructed and antennas installed, analyses must be performed to manage the radiation hazard and a radiation safety program must be designed specifically for that building and rooftop. The telecommunications consultant, therefore, should have a demonstrated expertise in radiation safety analysis and design.

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