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To Have And To Have Not - Connectivity Not Always A Given

An EE mast at St Pauls - Nick Dutfield reckons MTI is better than 4G and will give 5G a run for its money
12 June 2019

BT may have decided that all its offices need to have super-fast connectivity but that is not a luxury all London landlords can offer, writes Nick Dutfield.

Arguably the most critical requirement of a commercial tenant is the one thing that’s surprisingly hard to get hold of in the capital - and that's ultra-high speed, low latency connectivity.

Such is the appetite for choosing business premises on the strength of internet speed and capacity that tenants are making use of new concepts such as WiredScore - the official Mayor of London Digital Connectivity Rating Scheme for commercial buildings.

Understandably, property owners have cottoned on this, with the likes of The Shard, White Collar Factory, Tea Building and 22 Bishopsgate all posting some of the highest level certifications.

Ultrafast internet connectivity could be fast becoming the number one deciding factor for today’s digitally-enabled enterprises. However, the high risk, cost and probable delays associated with ordering connections, prior to securing tenants, makes things difficult.


Obtaining approvals

A major part of the issue is the unpredictability of how long it can take between ordering a connection and having it activated. This is because of the delays in obtaining approvals and wayleave agreements that are typically the rule rather than the exception.

This all-too-familiar issue comes as landlords try to accelerate their efforts around smart building capabilities, develop strategies to entice fast-growing start-ups out of co-working spaces and into dedicated premises and generally take advantage of London’s position as a global technical and financial services centre.

All these innovation opportunities are under threat while the problem persists.


Cat A+

One such innovation is the so-called ‘Cat A+’ property, which acts as a novel ‘halfway house’ between the classic Cat B fit-out (where landlords fit-out building lots according to bespoke tenant instructions) and the more rudimentary Cat A fit-out (where a ‘blank canvas’ environment is created, ready for a tenant to convert into their own office vision). The Cat A+ fit-out combines the best of both worlds - a ready-to-use ‘plug and play’ workspace complete with connectivity, data infrastructure and other important amenities.

Once again, the same problem rears its head and this fantastic concept risks never reaching its potential as a mass-market alternative. All because getting connectivity ready to go before a tenant commits is so commercially risky, expensive, time-consuming and prone to unpredictability.



The response to this issue comes in the form of a new service called Multi-Tenant Internet (MTI). MTI works by ‘lighting up’ multi-tenant properties with a fixed-wireless connection (typically from the office rooftop using such small antenna technology that no planning permission is necessary) delivering aggregate speeds up to 5Gbps. This can then be distributed among tenants accordingly, with each provided with their own dedicated VLANs and IP address range.

By bringing the connection into their buildings, property owners are able to improve their certification level with WiredScore and other rating systems – and even derive a dedicated portion of the service for their own use (i.e. for the site management office and/or any additional in-building systems and applications).


Telecoms Code

The introduction of MTI has come at a pivotal moment for landlords, softening the blow of the controversial new Electronic Communications Code (otherwise known as the Telecoms Code).

 The Telecoms Code makes life harder for landlords in respect of their legal rights pertaining to telecommunications infrastructure situated on their property. Many industry experts are concerned about the chilling effect the Code may have on the rollout of new 5G masts – even though the regulation was introduced to encourage it.

Under the new legislation, the UK’s 127 registered Code Operators (all mobile, broadband, fixed line and other telecoms service providers providing a public benefit) effectively have the whip hand over landlords as they are equipped with greater statutory rights over notice periods, disputes, access rights, valuations, etc.

It so happens that users of the MTI service are unaffected by these changes, as there is no Code Operator involved.


No delays

Buildings that have been equipped with the MTI service enjoy secure, reliable, flexible, scalable always-on connectivity to help support and future-proof business requirements for their tenants.

New installs only take 5-10 days.



In many ways, MTI resembles the kind of service that organisations wish for and imagine when then think of 4G and 5G. In reality, 4G services cannot provide uncontended connectivity and do not come with an SLA, while 5G is still in testing. MTI looks set to continue its supremacy for the time-being and can even be combined today with a fibre service in parallel – where available – to provide a dual-link, fully redundant failover connection that delivers guaranteed 100% uptime.

Picture:  An EE mast at St Pauls - Nick Dutfield reckons MTI is better than 4G and will give 5G a run for its money.

The author is a director of providing an MTI service.

Article written by Nick Dutfield | Published 12 June 2019


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