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The Multitenant Building Environment
Though an in-depth telecommunications tutorial is beyond the scope of this study, it is necessary to introduce and discuss some of the language and concepts of modern telecommunications technology, markets, and policy to enable the presentation of subsequent material and further dialog. Following are definitions and discussion of several special terms related to multitenant telecommunications access and what they mean. For more background on telecommunications technologies and markets, see the later section of this study, The Evolving Telecommunications Landscape.
Telecommunications Service Providers (TSPs):
The Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (ILECs) have exclusive rights and responsibilities associated with their defined monopolistic position in providing local telephone service to the approximately 200 defined geographic areas nationally known as Local Access and Transport Areas (LATAs). For most metropolitan areas the role of ILEC is served by one of the Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs) formed from AT&T's "Baby Bells," such as US WEST for Phoenix, Tucson, and Flagstaff here in Arizona. Other ILECs may hold the same exclusive privileges for other less dense geographic areas as Citizens Utilities, GTE, and others do here in rural locales. ILECs are closely regulated by the state Public Utility Commissions (PUCs), such as the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), as are Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs) to a lesser degree.
Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC or Certified Local Exchange Carrier): A term coined for the deregulated, competitive telecommunications environment envisioned by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. While the Act is under legal challenge, many of the state regulatory authorities have moved forward. The CLECs compete on a selective basis for local exchange service, as well as long distance, international, Internet access, and entertainment (e.g. Cable TV and Video on Demand). They will build or rebuild their own local loops, wired or wireless. They build or rebuild their own local loops, wired or wireless. They also lease local loops from the ILECs at wholesale rates for resale to end-users. CLECs include cellular/ PCS providers, ISPs, IXCs, CATV providers, CAPs, LMDS operators, and power utilities. -- Newton's Telecom Dictionary, 15th Edition (1999)
Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs) are the prime competition for the Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC), again US WEST in Arizona's urban markets and Citizens Utilities for most rural markets, supplying voice and data services. Approximately fifty CLECs have been authorized by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) to date including wireline providers such as AT&T, Cox Communications, Electric Lightwave Inc. (ELI), GST Telecommunications, MCIWorldCom, Metropolitan Fiber Systems (MFS), Sprint, Teleport Communications Group (TCG, now a part of AT&T), and Qwest, as well as wireless providers such as A.R.T., Teligent, and WinStar among others. Other data only providers such as Covad and Rhythms are sometimes referred to as Data Local Exchange Carriers (DLECs) and specialize in xDSL services to business and residential customers.
CLECs may be facilities-based, developing and deploying their own infrastructure, wireline with fiber and wire in the ground or wireless with antenna systems. They would interconnect to U S WEST and the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) from their own switching centers or by co-locating equipment in U S WEST's Central Offices (COs). CLECs most commonly build their own infrastructure in high-density business areas, seeking to capture volume business accounts. In the Phoenix area, such activity is concentrated in the Central Avenue Corridor (from 7th Street to 7th Avenue) and along the Camelback Corridor (from Central Ave. heading East), as well as in other selective Valley locations, such as around the State Capitol Mall and the Scottsdale Airpark. Alternatively, CLECs may be a telecommunications service reseller to end-users, leasing capacity and connectivity at wholesale rates from the ILEC or other CLECs for sale. The local ILEC and facilities-based CLECs will have various physical locations or Points of Presence (POPs) distributed throughout their service regions that contain the wiring connections and network access, as well as routers and/or switches for connection to switched circuit and dedicated (leased line) connections. Increasingly Telecommunications Service Providers (TSPs) want to sell advanced telecommunications capabilities "defined, without regard to any transmission media or technology, as high-speed, switched, broadband telecommunications capability that enables users to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video telecommunications using any technology" (Section 706 of The Telecommunications Act of 1996). All kinds of voice, data, and video traffic will be digital and their data streams increasingly joined or converged for common transport over Internet Protocol (IP) across the high-speed cross-country fiber backbones of the RBOCs and their national competitors. The Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) and Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) of today will increasingly give way to the hybrid wired and wireless converged IP traffic carried over the New Public Networks.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 defines the physical and functional elements of the telephone network infrastructure and requires that the Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (ILECs) unbundle their network at seven points, known as Unbundled Network Elements (UNEs), to be sold on an incremental cost basis to other TSPs. The particulars of ILECs leasing their lines and facilities are subject to negotiation with individual CLECs and closely regulated by the state Public Utility Commissions (PUC). The leased network elements can be interconnected, provisioned and used to provide communications services to customers. Leasing of the ILEC's legacy in-ground wire from a customer's location to the CLEC's or ILEC's nearest Point of Presence (POP) may be used to bypass the need to run new in-ground wiring, but may limit the services that can be delivered.
Multitenant Buildings or Multiple Dwelling Units (MDUs):
Multitenant buildings are primarily comprised of office space leased to business tenants or living spaces, such as apartments or other Multiple Dwelling Units (MDUs), leased to residential tenants. Inside wiring connects the tenant's individual points of service to telecommunications equipment in equipment closets around the premises or perhaps at a centralized location within the building. Larger business tenants may have their own private telephone switching system, a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) or other sophisticated Customer Premises Equipment (CPE).
A crucial location for multitenant buildings and this policy study is the physical point where the tenant or building owner hands off control and responsibility, if not ownership, of the wiring to their selected Telecommunications Service Provider (TSP). This Point-of-Demarcation (POD) is often the primary wiring location within the building and the site of the major telecommunications interconnect equipment. The exact definition of the Point-of-Demarcation (POD) and the associated Minimum Point of Entry (MPOE), as well as their attendant rights and stakeholder obligations, remain the subject of much discussion and debate as detailed throughout this report.
Distribution of signals through the multitenant building is primarily accomplished over the inside wiring but wireless technologies will play an increasingly common role. The primary wiring location or equipment room may also serve as a riser closet for access to vertical conduits or paths between floors of a building, known as risers. Individual buildings in a complex will usually have their own wiring closets. Separate voice telephony and data networking wiring and equipment are common, usually accomplished over Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) wire, the most common type today being Category 5 or Cat-5 eight conductor unshielded cable. It can deliver not only phone service but carry data traffic over the tenants' Local Area Networks (LANs) at rates from 10 Mbps to 1 Gbps, perhaps higher. Video and broadband analog signals are carried on coaxial cable. However, fiber optic cable is being increasingly deployed for interconnecting areas of the building or major equipment hubs to each other. A business tenant with multiple locations, perhaps dispersed nationally or internationally, will tie the individual LAN locations together into a Wide Area Network (WAN) over leased telecommunications circuits or over the Internet via a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Definitions of Demarcation Point or Point-of-Demarcation (POD): The Demarcation Point is the point of a demarcation and/or interconnection between telephone company communications facilities and terminal equipment, protective apparatus, or wiring at a subscriber's premises. Carrier-installed facilities at or constituting the demarcation point consist of a wire or a jack conforming to -- Newton's Telecom Dictionary, 15th Edition (1999) Keeping the Demarcation Point as set forth in Rule 25-4.0345, Florida Administrative Code, versus moving to the federal minimum point of entry (MPOE) is an issue that merits additional investigation by the FPSC. Moving to the MPOE may resolve some access issues by possibly giving the ALECs quicker access to the wiring; however, inhibiting the COLRs' ability to deliver service standards directly to the customer and potentially allowing an unregulated third party to become a factor in service may outweigh the benefits of moving to the MPOE. -- Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) Study: Access by Telecommunications Companies to Customers in the Multitenant Environment, February, 1999
Definition of Minimum Point of Entry (MPOE): The closest practical point to where the carrier facilities cross the property line or the closest practical point where the carrier cabling enters a multi-unit building or buildings. -- Newton's Telecom Dictionary, 15th Edition (1999)
The building managers or owners may themselves become a Telecommunications Service Providers (TSPs) by investing in and installing telephone equipment so as to service business and residential tenants needs by operating that equipment over leased connections to the local ILEC and/or various CLECs. Larger apartment complexes may have their own PBXs supporting multitenant sharing. Adequate capacity in riser closets and risers as well as general communications capabilities must be considered in the initial design of new multitenant buildings or during their rebuilds and retrofits.
Real estate professionals classify business multitenant office building properties as:
- Class A: Most prestigious buildings competing for premier office users with rents above average for the market. Buildings have high quality finishes, state of the art building systems, exceptional accessibility and a definite market presence.
- Class B: Buildings competing for a wide range of users with rents in the average/mid-range for the market. Buildings finishes are fair to good for the markets and systems are adequate, but the building does not compete with Class A at the same price or for the same tenants.
- Class C: Buildings competing for tenants requiring functional space at below average rents.
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Varying Points of View-- Map of the Stakeholder Universe