6 Telecom Questions to Ask Before Signing Your Office Lease

6 Telecom Questions to Ask Before Signing Your Office Lease

We have all struggled with slow connections, video call problems and dropouts, files and attachments taking too long to send and a multitude of other issues caused by poor telecommunication infrastructure within a building. New York City is notorious for slow and often expensive internet service in select neighborhoods, where you will find yourself with no recourse as a business tenant (for reasons discussed below).

Regardless of what services your business offers, any modern office needs to have a solid communications infrastructure. Fast internet, VoIP, networking, and other technological amenities have become critical for businesses searching for commercial office space – just as important as the choice of neighborhood, architectural layout, general building amenities, monthly rent, and building security. Without rapid and reliable communications, your business could waste valuable time and lose productivity. Slow internet can often frustrate your employees and reduce company morale!

Therefore, your communications infrastructure options end up being one of several vital factors you must consider before signing a New York City office lease. In fact, you should think about these needs before you begin your search.

Metro Manhattan represents companies of all industries and scales in their search for New York City office space. If your company has any specialized technology requirements, it would be imperative to mention them to your representative commercial real estate broker during the first consultation. Your realtor will then make relevant inquiries on your behalf to ensure that the spaces they locate will meet the technological needs of your business.

Here are the six connectivity & telecommunications questions to ask before starting your search for a new office rental:

1. Which Telecom Providers Offer Service in an Office Building?

Many commercial tenants find that the easiest connectivity option is one of the property’s existing telecommunications networks. While it may be the easiest, it may be inadequate for your needs.

New York City has a cottage industry of telecommunications companies renting roof and shaft space from landlords. Many of them are well-known, established companies. Others are small-scale and niche operations. If your commercial realtor clearly understands your communications & technology requirements, they can communicate with potential landlords to ensure that their buildings are able to provide the level of service required. Assessing and communicating these needs to your broker is key.

It is the telecommunications provider’s responsibility to run wire to your office, as well as getting your phones, cable, and internet up and running. From there, your IT department (or another private Technology Services company) can set up your local computer network, storage and backup solutions, security (such as a firewall), and various servers that your company may need for efficient operations.

2. How Much Internet Bandwidth Does Your Business Require?

Every company needs access to the internet, but there is a lot of variability in the quality of service that you can expect. You should confirm that a building’s internet providers have upload and download speeds that meet your company’s bandwidth needs.

“Up” and “down” speeds tell you the speed at which data can move to or from your devices. The higher the rate, the faster your data will be transferred. Download or “down” speeds measure how fast your devices can grab data from the internet – for example, loading a website. Upload or “up” speeds measure how fast your devices can send data to the internet. For example, when you want to send someone an attachment or publish a video to Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn or any other social network that your business uses.

In the course of your daily work as a business, many computers and devices are used simultaneously. This means that you want to avoid a situation where an employee who is watching a training video ends up slowing down another employee who is trying to complete a transaction for a customer. Often times, a computer update will start downloading on one or several devices in the background and your business internet will become slow for every other employee. Therefore, you need to consider the “aggregate” internet needs for your business. In practice, this means that business owners frequently underestimate how fast the main internet connection needs to be, in order for the business to run smoothly.

If your phones use VoIP, and your internet connection regularly hits bandwidth limits, your voice call quality will suffer and you may experience dropped calls. If you frequently work with international customers for whom English is not a native language, the calls will end up taking longer and become frustrating for both parties as you experience issues with call intelligibility. Unfortunately, we’ve all experienced this at one point or another – which makes a strong argument for sufficiently fast internet connectivity.

As a rule of thumb, the average computer or device within your business should have at least 15 Mbps (megabits per second) of download bandwidth and at least 5 Mbps of upload bandwidth for typical everyday operations. Note, that ideally this should remain true even if more than one device is in use at the same time. For less typical activities, such as playing 4K video, you would need around 50Mbps of download bandwidth or more. Posting a video to social media from a high quality camera, may require upload bandwidth of 10Mbps or much more depending how long you are willing to wait. Fiber connections can often scale as high as 1500 Mbps for download and 1000 Mbps for upload (which makes all internet operations nearly instant), but this service is not available everywhere and it can be very expensive as part of a business service agreement.

Finally – consider the importance of cloud backups. If you use services such as iCloud, Google Drive or Amazon S3 to perform backups of key business assets and data, you would benefit from fast upload speeds because these backups tend to grow very large for most businesses. If your backup is still uploading to the cloud during business hours, it will greatly limit your ability to upload data through other devices. Until the backup is uploaded, it can make video conferencing and file sharing problematic or practically impossible for other users. This is one common reason for video conferencing dropouts that many users experience, despite being on a corporate network.

In summary – modern companies need to send large files, stream recorded videos, and teleconference constantly. All of these activities require high upload and download speeds. Providers have greatly varying connection speeds, service limitations and pricing plans. Your office search should involve choosing a telecom option that meets your office needs at a reasonable cost.

3. Do You Need Extra Bandwidth for High-Frequency Trading or Video File Transfers?

Does your company publish a lot of video content or frequently exchanges media files with clients and other businesses? High-quality video transfers require substantial internet connection bandwidth, and this affects building choices for marketing and advertising agencies, public relations firms, creative studios or companies that rely heavily on social media presence such as startups.

Hedge funds and other financial firms often engage in high-speed trading. Their bandwidth requirements go beyond a standard connection. Having the fastest connection possible is imperative when executing trades within milliseconds. In these circumstances, redundancy is also critical. A financial trader could lose tens of millions of dollars because of a lost connection. In this context, redundancy means having access to more than one service provider at the same time. If there is a problem with one provider, the business can seamlessly switch to a backup service.

Financial services firms may also require “low latency” connections, which in practice means that they need to be a short physical distance away from another organization – such as a stock exchange or a particular datacenter. This ensures the fastest routes when it comes to executing trades and performing other time-sensitive transactions.

If your company requires extra-fast connectivity within New York City, this will narrow your commercial real estate broker’s search to office buildings offering this capacity. At your request, they could also look for a building with redundant connections.

4. Will You Host Your Server in Your New Space, or Will You Host Your Server Remotely?

Data storage and security needs differ greatly for every company. For many teams, outsourcing storage to a provider like Amazon is the best option. For instance, this very website is hosted on Amazon’s AWS servers. If this choice works for your business, it will save you a lot of space, energy and maintenance costs.

However, if you need a server closet in your space, there will be important variables to consider. Naturally, you will need adequate electricity for your servers. If your server room generates significant heat, you will require 24/7 air-conditioning, which might mean installing a supplemental air conditioning unit. This may absorb substantial tenant improvement allowance. Failing to provide sufficient cooling for your server closet is very likely to result in premature failure and potential data loss.

New servers are more energy efficient and emit less heat as a result. Upgrading your server setup may prove more cost-effective because it will avoid the need to install supplemental air conditioning. For this reason, large datacenters tend to upgrade their servers every 3 to 5 years. A smaller business can afford to wait longer while hanging onto older equipment that fits their existing needs. It would be best to consult a Technology Services company for the most practical options for your business.  They can help you analyze the costs/benefits of different approaches that are specific to your needs. Doing so can end up saving you money while simplifying your operations when you make the move to a new office space.

5. Does your Company Need Cable Television?

Cable television might seem like a non-essential subscription in your home, but it can be vital for certain businesses. Financial firms need CNBC, Bloomberg, and Fox Business. Public relations companies want ready access to the news. Retail tenants and restaurants often play cable for their customers and patrons.

Plus, you should never underestimate the morale boost provided by having March Madness on in the employee lounge.

Don’t think of cable television and other specific telecom features as afterthoughts. Make sure that your commercial realtor is aware of your needs so that they can be part of the office search. Most properties are wired for at least one cable provider. We want you to have that information before you begin negotiations. Otherwise, you might find yourself relying on a spotty satellite service.

6. Will a Commercial Landlord Install Ethernet Cabling, Servers, Routers, and Device Cabling on Behalf of a New Office Tenant?

Trading terminals, audio-visual setups, smart office features – these all require new, high-speed internet cables. Another potential problem is that older properties might not have the electrical capacity for the amount or type of technology that your business uses, and you might need to arrange an upgrade.

Improvements to a commercial space are a point of negotiation between landlords and tenants. Landlords often prebuild spaces to a generic layout, and these spaces already include electrical distribution. Landlords will usually build a raw space for a tenant within a specific budget. Electrical wiring installation is one of the construction costs that a tenant improvement allowance is applicable towards. However, landlords don’t usually provide any credit for telecom and Internet wiring. That cost is the tenant’s responsibility.

More importantly, installing electrical distribution in an office space is considerably more complicated than changing a light fixture in your condo. It is often more pragmatic to have the landlord handle your buildout. You are probably best off avoiding the aggravation of contractors and unexpected complications.

The Bottom Line

Modern technology has made companies more efficient with access to the latest information and resources from around the world. It has improved our everyday lives while opening new markets and creating opportunities for businesses. To ensure that your company’s connectivity and telecommunications needs are met, it is important to clearly outline these requirements to your commercial realtor. As a result, your new office space in New York City will meet the technology needs of your modern business.