Property sector cuts the cables

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Cisco Systems and property services firm Colliers International have launched the first office building in Australia to offer wireless networking as basic building infrastructure, like air-conditioning or water pipes.

The $3 million refurbishment of a Heritage-listed site at 332 Kent Street, Sydney heralds a shift in thinking across the property services industry, opening that vertical for exploitation by the channel.

Previously, tenants taking commercial leases had to design, deploy and maintain any data networking infrastructure required.

Chris Nicholl, national executive director at Colliers International, said property was a platform for productivity.

The property sector needed to take potential customers? technology needs into account at the development stage and that meant networking and communications, he said.

?What we think we have done [at 332 Kent Street] is start to break down the barriers between property and technology. We each know our own market in intimate detail but didn?t have the ability to bring them together,? he said.

Colliers International contracted Cisco and system integrator Logical to deploy WLAN at the four-storey 400m2 building.

Logical and Cisco will provide on-going support to Colliers International, which will charge tenants directly for its support and maintenance of the system under a ?Business Class Wireless Networks? lease model, opening a new revenue stream for all three companies.

The WLAN combines four Cisco Catalyst 2950 switches, one 3550 series switch and 10 Cisco 1200 series Aironet access points supporting IEEE standard 802.11b.

?The network is 802.11b but will be able to use 802.11g,? said Kip Cole, channels and commercial director for Cisco in Australia and New Zealand.

Cole said VPNs and Virtual Local Networks (VLANs) will be deployed over wireless, enabling each tenant to specify security policies independent of other users, with log-in security provided for tenants and their guests across individual corporate networks. The implementation also harnesses Cisco LEAP (Lightweight Extensible Access Protocol) and standard wireless encryption.

?Committing to this open architecture which is standards-based ... in the design creates an environment where you can be more flexible [to client needs],? said Stuart Hendry, MD at Logical.

Nicholl said adding wireless infrastructure added three percent to the overall cost of refurbishment but saved on cabling costs for tenants.

An 1000m2 completely hardwired space would require 120 data points for 60 workstations and 15 for three meeting rooms. At $110 per data point, cabling would cost $14,850. On the other hand, a mixed mode space the same size would require 48 data points for 60 workstations and none for the three meeting rooms, bringing the cabling cost to $5,280, he said.

Paul Baxter, project manager of knowledge systems at Colliers International, said the inclusion of wireless infrastructure had bumped rents up from $470 to $475 per square meter per annum gross.

Colliers International expects to begin leasing space in the building this October. ?The building hasn?t been offered to the marketplace yet ... but we?ve already had enquirers sniffing around,? Baxter said. Colliers International and Cisco are slated to complete ?Australia?s second wireless building? at 437 St Kilda Road in Melbourne in November.


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