Commercial property appraisals: Is the cable stable?

Commercial property appraisals: Is the cable stable?

Ever wonder if the network cabling within your commercial building is substandard or the network connectivity coming into your building is obsolete?
Commercial buildings have lost value in the current economy. What most appraisers as well as owners don’t even measure is the technology within the building and how that relates to the overall value of a property. Appraisers are not qualified to look into the network infrastructure of a building.
Traditional amenities are measured, but are intelligent amenities such as broadband connectivity and power even reviewed?
Most buildings have a single connection to the phone company’s central office. That was a standard set when horse-and-buggies took up most of the street. That rule-of-thumb has not changed over decades but it should in light of what is needed. Having one connection to a central office is like keeping a hitching post in front of your building. It’s obsolete.
The same goes for electricity. How many buildings are connected to the electric utility through two separate power grids? How many buildings have a second source for power (alternative energy like solar panels or wind turbines)?
These types of questions have to be answered as more corporate tenants look for a more sophisticated real estate platforms for their company’s operations. Having some of these next generation amenities means the difference of being lumped into the whole market or narrowing the market down by 90%. Yes, 90% of the market is still hitching-post ready. Too bad that’s not what corporate site selection committees are looking for.
Worshipping the God of Cheapest Cost
Years ago, I wrote an article for Business Communications Review that focused on network equipment issues but more importantly, those buying networks for enterprises and buildings who worshipped the “God of Cheapest Cost”.
Many people have had it drilled into them for years that they have to look for the cheapest solution in every instance. If we take a close look at those installing the network infrastructure within a building, sometimes they try to cut corners.
Typical areas within the campus or building’s network infrastructure that can be a real threat to a building’s safety are:

  • Lack of firestopping between floors (this is a common problem when contractors try to “make up for the low bid” they turned in).
  • Questionable cable which looks like Category 5 or Category 6 but in actuality, it cannot support the speeds for those standards.

Cabling that does not perform? Is there such a thing going into commercial buildings? Of course. How do you think that low bidder got his numbers below everyone else?

There are many looking into this issue that will actually cripple your building
Would you buy a Ferrari at a bargain price thinking you saved some money only to find out you just got passed up by a 15 year-old mini-van?
You’re thinking, “I should have plenty of power to fly past that van” only to find out you cannot even keep up with it. But you did save some money.
You find out you have a lawnmower engine in the Ferrari and the claims for speed can never be met. Your car is obsolete. Your car cannot perform the way you and everyone else think it should. It has the Ferrari “badging” but your neighbor can beat you out with his John Deere riding mower. But you did save some money.
Well, that’s what happening with cable in buildings where people think they have a path to faster speeds only to find out the cable and/or the connectors cannot handle that faster speed. But you did save some money.
Wait `til tenants find out that the building does not support high-speed broadband connectivity. If you think there is an exodus now to other buildings, wait until the demand for multi-gigabit speeds become more commonplace.
In certain business campuses they are already running 40Gbps connectivity. Master planning is different now for building business campuses. As a white paper I released in 2008 states: Master planning must include network and power planning upfront and not as an afterthought. Read Intelligent Business Campuses: Keys to Future Economic Development. (
Speed kills? Not when it comes to leasing out space.
Today’s motto is more like, “No speed. No tenants.” Having no speed kills occupancy.
Carlinism: Quality cannot be commoditized.
Recent columns by James Carlini

James Carlini is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University, and is president of Carlini & Associates. He can be reached at or 773-370-1888. Check out his blog at
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Carlini will be contributing a white paper on Intelligent Infrastructure: Insuring Security for Regional Sustainability in the upcoming proceedings of the Department of Homeland Security’s Workshop for Aging Infrastructures.
Carlini was featured on Etopia News Now out of California discussing major concepts of wireless connectivity and new infrastructure for real estate, 4G networks, and the need to develop “keyboard-ready” government stimulus efforts designed to revitalize the U.S. economy.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC.