Dial-Out Modem Pools

Oct. 30, 2003
Specialized Software, Dial-out Modem Pools Ease Tenant Moves
Following is a greatly expanded version of the column that ran in the November 2003 issue of Buildings, page 16.Before economical Internet services emerged in the 1990s, businesses worldwide often relied on modems for low-cost data communications. Contrary to the widespread assumption that modems will disappear as the Internet takes over, numerous business applications will continue to depend on the unique advantages of dial-out modem connections: low cost, high reliability, and simplicity. Today, thousands of businesses in industries such as financial services, insurance, banking, healthcare, data collection, and transportation use modems for data communication, with remote systems and equipment belonging to their business partners and customers.From the facilities’ perspective, this means that tenants using individual modems for each computer may require large numbers of telephone lines to the facility, along with additional telephone-line wiring to numerous work locations. When it comes to a move, tenants are faced with higher costs and longer build-out schedules. For example:The modem-related costs of a move to a new facility easily exceed $500 in supplies and labor for each modem location.It may be difficult to move in to an existing build-out due to the high cost of retrofitting for additional telephone lines.Businesses often use a facility move as an opportunity to upgrade to a new network-based telephone system. The new desk phones won’t require telephone wiring, but desktop modems always do – creating painful planning and budget issues.Fortunately, many information technology professionals know that such issues can be readily resolved by using a dial-out modem pool.Modem Pools Save Dollars, Time
Desktop modems can be replaced with PC-based software, which allows modem users to share a dial-out modem pool on a centralized server on their corporate network. This software is called a COM Port Redirector. A COM Port Redirector is a specialized extension for the Windows® operating system that uses the corporate network to communicate with the modem pool, making modems appear to be locally attached to the PC. Telephone lines need to be run only to the dial-out modem pool server, not to each work location.

Good things happen when desktop modems are replaced with COM Port Redirector software and a dial-out modem pool:
PCs no longer need their own modems and telephone lines. This can result in significant savings in time and money when moving a business.PCs using COM Port Redirectors can be moved anywhere on the corporate network with no wiring changes.Typically, up to 80 percent of the telephone lines for modems are eliminated as fewer shared modems can do the work of many individual modems that were used only occasionally.Modern COM Port Redirector software can work with many different brands of modem pool servers, giving businesses the flexibility to expand and change their dial-out modem capacity.The economics of modem pools are compelling. Consider the traditional installation of 100 desktop modems in a brokerage: One-time cost for telephone line installation is $5,000; telephone wiring to work locations, over $10,000; monthly recurring charges totaling $1,800 for telephone lines.  Now consider the dial-out modem pool alternative: 100 desktop modems replaced by 20 shared modems for $5,000 for new hardware and the required COM Port Redirector software, plus $1,000 for telephone line installation, for a total of $6,000. Immediate savings generated by the dial-out modem pool and COM Port Redirector software approaches $10,000, with ongoing annual savings at nearly $48,000.

Good News for Building Owners, Managers
Dial-out modem pools make a lot of business sense for practical reasons as well. COM Port Redirectors can be used from any corporate network location. This makes facility moves fast and reduces the move budget. Additionally, the performance and capacity of modern corporate networks enables businesses using COM Port Redirectors to readily move modem users separately from the dial-out modem pool, which can take pressure off the move schedule and consider space that may have telecommunications limitations.

With the elimination of extra telephone lines to the desktop, dial-out modem pools make it easier for new tenants to live with wiring in an existing build-out. If a tenant is changing to a new network-based telephone system, using a dial-out modem pool means they won’t be tripped up by the same old telephone wiring issues raised by desktop modems.

Some small businesses can require dozens or hundreds of telephone lines for modems, out of proportion to the number of employees. By consolidating telephone lines and services, dial-out modems pools can significantly reduce such a tenant’s impact on a building’s telecommunications closet and existing wiring.
If your tenant is already using a dial-out modem pool, you have a flexible tenant when it comes to telecommunication issues. If not, the move to your facility can be the opportune time to change. Should a tenant or prospective tenant raise concerns over telephone services or wiring, it’s worth asking whether a dial-out modem pool will make the difference. The competitive edge will go to those facilities and leasing executives who understand how to accommodate their tenants’ communications needs with low-cost, easily deployed, and technologically advanced approaches to modem communications.
Mike Krueger ([email protected]) is co-founder and vice president of corporate development at Tactical Software, Manchester, NH, the independent software supplier of COM Port Redirector software for modem servers and serial servers from over 30 manufacturers. Contact Krueger at (603) 606-6711.

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