gigabit_speedWhen I call your name, please raise your wireless device.

Our world is “cloudy”. We all operate off the ethereal digital cloud in more and more of our personal use of technology, but also in our business lives (is there much of a difference anymore?).

Remember all the ink that was spilled on remote work and on the freedom to work anywhere, anytime? The resulting digital thirst is the natural outcome of the unassigned workspace trend. The push to the cloud is relentless and will not abate for the foreseeable future.

Horse Drawn Real Estate?

So, how do most office buildings and employers deal with the torrent of demand for internet access? Like the Amish, it seems. Bloated demand for wireless and general interntet access is the weak link in corporate America.

Perhaps your next move ought to be to a Fiberhood. A number of developers I’ve spoken with over the past few months are thinking hard about data connectivity as a critical differentiator for their buildings.

One such developer is Atlanta-based North American Properties (NAP). NAP is building an ultra-high-speed fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband network at Avalon, a $600 million dollar, 2.4 million-square-foot mixed-use development in Alpharetta, GA, a northern suburb of Atlanta.

NAP’s plan is to build a custom FTTP network throughout the development. Avalon will feature fiber connection speeds that are more than 100 times faster than services currently available in most other Atlanta developments. Workers will have internet access at up to 10 gigabit speeds, which will allow them to stream Pandora, use ESPN and maybe even work at the same time. The Amish community had better keep a lookout.

Gigabuilding?

Nationwide, office developers that offer multi-gigabit Internet connections are seeing a boom in business for their buildings. Communities can also see economic development gains from more robust communications infrastructure.

The NAP press release on the subject hit the nail on the head: “Since the announcement that Google Fiber was going to Kansas City, an onslaught of startups has flocked to the area, giving it the nickname ‘Silicon Prairie.’ Similarly, Google Fiber’s recent announcement, in Austin, prompted AT&T to announce their own “GigaPower” FTTP program.” Both communities are experiencing tremendous interest from tech focused companies, but also large corporations of every type. Other communities such as Provo, Utah, Chattanooga, Tennessee and Cape Cod, Massachusetts already sport fiberhoods. Eventually larger cities are slated for the same digital expansion by various providers. Imagine America before interstate highways; we are there digitally, but the “build” is underway.

It’s clear that super internet speeds will help developers and communities differentiate. It will also buy tenants some time in the insatiable growth in demand for bandwidth. NAP calls this “future-proofing” operations. Mark Toro, Atlanta managing partner of NAP, says “With bandwidth requirements growing at more than 30 percent per year, Gigabit service is the way to get ahead (of the curve).”

So as we smile and enjoy the economic thaw occurring around us, developers are plotting their strategy to fill the buildings they are yearning to build. They would do well to take a look at the example of NAP.

At the same time, growing employers are looking for real estate options that will help them attract and retain valuable “millennial” talent. I believe leadership in the real estate user community has to take digital bandwidth seriously as part of the comparison of building options. Cities will eventually catch up on a mass infrastructure front, but make sure you understand the digital offerings on the building/development level in the meantime. Available connectivity should be right next to rental rate on the side-by-side comparison.

In the last real estate wave, tenants worried about parking and pretty lobbies in selecting real estate options. This time around, something invisible is the key to winning real estate developments – high fiber options on the Giga-level. All the kids are digging it and besides, your YouTube will finally stream flawlessly at work.