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Growing Multi-Tenant Services Trend Spreads Access to Latest Technology.

There was a time when a company contemplating a move into new offices evaluated the possible amenities available to them. Such features usually included elevators, ample parking, coffee shop, air conditioning and convenient access to major roads and public transportation.

While much of that is still important, tenants are beginning to consider something else: access of information-age tchnology. And even if they aren't looking for it, they just might find it a rather appealing idea once they see the benefits of occupying space in a building with an established telephone switching system capable of handling both voice and data transmission.

More and more real estate developers--either with existing buildings or projects under way--are finding it advantageous to link up with companies who can provide extensive communications packages that will give corporate tenants the opportunity to plug into every imaginable information tool--from telephones to teleconferencing--without having to purchase their own systems. Tenants will simply lease the particular services they require on a monthly basis.

This growing concept, called shared tenant services, benefits both the landlord and the tenant. (Also see related story in October CN, page 40.) Builders who do not have or cannot afford their own communications division can have an outside-party package and maintain a telecommunications system for their properties. This makes the building more attractive to prospective tenants. The appeal, from the tenants' point of view, is that companies will not have to make the initial investment to purchase a system outright, and yet they will have access to a wealth of technology that they otherwise might have not been able to afford on their own. This is particularly true of smaller companies that can benefitfrom advanced technology but can't yet cost justify a major expenditure.

While shared tenant services is a relatively new idea, it has great potential. Indeed, some observers have said that such a concept could dramatically effect the long-awaited move toward the automated office by making sophisticated technolgy--advanced data and voice communications--available to them at a fraction of what it would cost to buy their own systems. All the companies in the same building complex share the overall expense.

One such company involved in shared tenant services is Multinet Communications Corporation (MCC) of Dallas. MCC is a subsidiary of Triland International, a diversified real estate developer in Dallas with land holdings throughout the US and Canada. It also creates and markets a variety of telecommunications offerings to other developers as well.

"We'll come into a project and put together a communications package that will offer anything a corporate tenant might want in the way of in-building wiring and equipment," explains David Leininger, chairman of MCC. "Once a product is in place, corporate users moving in won't even have to pay local telephone company connection fees, since the system is already plugged into the local phone system through the switching station. Then what they pay is based on whateven services they use. They have access to them anytime they want."

Leininger was a former systems consultant for Touche Ross, director of operations of network security, and general manager of one of the cable TV industry's first bidirectional cable television systems. His partner, Jim Henry, was a systems engineer with Data General.

Recently, MCC entered into a multi-million-dollar, three-year agreement with the Dallas-based Communications Corporation of America (CCA), a distributor for NEC Telephones, for 42 NEC NEAX 2400 Information Management Systems to be installed in a number of shared-tenant-services sites in the Southwest. The NEAX 2400 IMS digital switch MCC will be providing corporate tenants offers voice and data communications, electronic mail, teleconferencing, facsimile, store and forward, voice messaging and a network capability via a combination of twisted-pair cable and fiber-optic facilities in a multifaceted loop configuration. Access to the Best Available Technology

"In short," says Leininger, "the best availabe technology will be offered to a tenant. Naturally, at the moment there is no call for the full extent of these features but the potential is there. We'll be able to easily tap into this equipment when tenants request it without our having to incur any unnecessary financial risk. Because of the system's modular design, as additional features are called for, we'll simply stack the modules on top of each other rather than having to work with conventional cabinets or frames. So we can start with simple voice communications and then expand to data and other special situations as we go along. The system will grow with us."

The NEAX 2400 IMS can grow from 184 ports to 23,184 ports, and supports simultaneous voice and data transmission at speeds of up to 56 kilobits per second over two-pair wiring without the use of modems.

One switch has already been installed in Williams Square, a 1.6-million-square-foot office project in the Las Colinas development in Irving. Other Texas locations that eventually will have the system are 3100 Monticello and The Regency, a 10-story and 15-story office building, respectively, in the Oak Lawn area of Dallas; and a multi-building garden-office project in the Valley Ranch development in Irving. Other projects are planned for the Houston, Austin and Denver markets.

"We needed a switching product that could be adapted to a wide range of buildings for all our locations, had the prospect of long-term viability in the face of technological advances, and was competitively priced," Leininger points out. MCC will be using the NEAX's Maintenance Administration Terminal for diagnostic and data-base administration control over all of the installations.

Who will likely benefit from shared tenant services? According to Leininger, "The economics can vary in terms of whether it's more economical to use shared services as opposed to owning or leasing a system. The building-based product as we developed it has a lot of value added into it in terms of call-detail reporting, on-site technical service, full PBX redundancy, battery backup, 24-hour air conditioning and that sort of thing. So the monthly cost per line basis will be as much if not slightly more than what a user could buy on his own, if he is looking for an inexpensive, basic phone system. But if a tenant needs a highly reliable system capable of accommodating a variety of requirements, the economies are there."

"The ideal tenant for this type of service," Leininger continues, "would be a heavy long-distance user that is growing. The kind of firm whose operations are changing and expanding has difficulty buying a system that they won't outgrow too quickly. These people are especially well suited to a switch where they can add and delete services dynamically."

a case in point is the Voluntary Hospitals of American in Irving. In June of this year, Voluntary Hospitals moved into new offices at the Williams Square complex, where MCC had installed a NEAX 2400 IMS, and signed up for shared tenant services.

"It was my first exposure to shared tenant services," says Gene Niswander, vice president of finance. "And it was a factor in considering moving our corporate headquarters into the new building."

Voluntary Hospitals of America, with offices in California, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan and New Jersey, is a management company that provides a variety of services to approximately 270 hospitals nationwide. "We characterize our operation as providing autonomy for the not-for-profit hospital community in the country while offering them the systems advantages of investor-owned facilities," Niswander explains. Among the specific packages offered by the company are strong corporate image, access to equity, financial reporting, access to purchasing programs and insurance programs.

Niswander saw a number of benefits with shared-tenant-services concept. First, by leasing the service, it would not require a large upfront investment. But another important factor was that given the company's nationwide activities, long-distance savings could be realized.

"Long distance calls represent about 75 percent of our total phone bill," says Niswander. "We felt the proposal offered by Multinet would give us a reduction in our telephone costs by a minimum of 10 percent. So we wanted to control that cost." The Neax 2400 Ims is configured with a combination of DID, DOD, two-way and tie lines. The least-cost-routing feature of the system automatically selects the most economical route for outgoing calls over alternative facilities (WATs, US Tel or DDD).

Two subsidiaries of Voluntary Hospitals share the twelfth floor with the parent company and also derive benefits from the system. "Even though each operation is independent," Niswander says, "we're all working off of the same telephone system."

As part of the shared-tenant-services offering, MCC also provides receptionists when a company requires it. Voluntary Hospitals uses a central receptionist for all three companies. "She is a Multinet employee," Niswander notes, "but we pay for her services as part of our monthly charge from multinet. Her sole responsibility is the administration of the switch-board capability."

Niswander says the new switching system has a number of features that the previous system didn't have, which are accessible through the system's Dterm, an intelligent microprocessor-controlled terminal. If the company is using the system's voice mail module, for instance, the Dterm can be programmed to automatically forward voice messages to co-workers or clients outside the office.

"One of the most important features, especially from the point of view of our subsidiaries," Niswander explains, "is the ability to monitor the length of phone calls and identify the number called. Because the subsidiaries spend considerable effort in consulting activities, it's beneficial to know how much time was spent with a particular client in terms of billing and allocation of expenses." Details of telephone calls, including the date the call was made and from which phone, is accomplished with the system's station message detail system (SMDS), which gives a printout of the activities. Also, an elapsed-time display on the Dterm indicates the duration of the call and what trunk line the call is being carried on.

Currently, Voluntary Hospitals is using only the NEAX 2400's voice features, but the wiring is in place for data transmission as well. The company, which shortly will expand its operation by another 10,000 square feet, sees the possibility of adding some data features.

"Because of all the member hospitals we serve, and our growing requirments, we eventually see a need for a more rapid transmission of ducuments," according to Niswander. "Right now we use different overnight courier services, but facsimile will be the next logical step. In fact, we're just beginning discussions with Multinet about it." If this feature is added, it will simply become part of the montly fee. Huge Valley Ranach Project

The most ambitious project MCC is involved in is the Vally Ranch, a 2600-acre multi-use development 20 minutes from downtown Dallas. Slated for completion by 1995, Valley Ranch is being developed by Triland International. The complex will feature a variety of housing (condominiums, apartments, single family housing) as well as 11 million square feet of commercial space for retail operations and high-rise office buildings. Thirty acres of the projects are set aside for the new Dallas Cowboy headquarters.

Leininger says estimates for Valley Ranch call for a working population of some 35,000 people, with about 25,000 people living within the development. The Valley Ranch's switching center will have a fiber-optic connection to a teleport under construction in nearly Las Colinas, where a number of long-distance carries will have their own satellite uplink facilities (see October CN, page 93). Two NEAX 2400 IMS systems are expected to be installed sometime next year.

"Commercial tenants will have access to a development network that consists of both broadband coaxial cable and fiber optics. The NEC switches will be installed on a building-specific basis," Leininger says. Modules for specific features will be added to the system as tenants call for them.

"What's so appealing about the concept," he emphasizes, "is that even if tenants don't think they need all this technology when they first move in, as they grow they can be easily plugged into it." Renently, MCC opened a demonstration facility to display all the capabilities of the system. "One of the things people realize when they learn about shared tenant services," Leininger explains, "is not only that communication services are more affordable, but we save them a lot of aggravation. It can be chaotic for a company to select a communications system that's right for them. We do it all, from selection to maintenance."

Leininger points to a growing demand for shared tenant services as people become more acquainted with it. "Reaction around the country has been very receptive to the idea of having an outside party coordinate the premise wiring, the network services configuration and all the related business. As a company's requirements become more sophisticated, there will be no need for them to go to the trouble and expense of rewiring their workplace for the office-of-the-future networks when the existing phone lines can handle present and future voice and data traffic simultaneously."
COPYRIGHT 1984 Nelson Publishing
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Publication:Communications News
Date:Nov 1, 1984
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