31 October 2018

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Building Riser Management Can Cost You 10X the Normal Rate

Fiber Connectivity by Tom Collins

One of my biggest pet peeves is paying someone a fee for something that really doesn't add any value to a product or service that I'm purchasing. One of the clearest examples of this is a relatively new cottage industry that has recently started up in the telecom community. It is the building riser management company. I understand why landlords are seeking help for managing the risers in their building. But, the exorbitant fees that are frequently associated with building riser management does not meet the needs of the tenants, resulting in extra, unnecessary expense and friction in provisioning telecom services. If you're considering moving into a location which uses building riser management services, make sure you consider the cost.

Riser management companies generally have a monopoly on a building’s infrastructure. New tenants can pay ten times more to connect to the internet in a commercial space which uses a riser management provider. Many commercial tenants pay these exorbitant fees since they aren't aware they have any other options to connect the new office space to Internet or phone service.

But, you do have other options.

To understand the impact of building riser management companies, we'll explain how these providers operate and lay out the comparative cost next to working directly with a business Internet provider. We'll also show how to avoid paying excessively by adding a clause to your lease and using your preferred vendor for business fiber Internet and communications services.

Building Riser Management Can Get Expensive

There's no question that a reputable connectivity provider is essential. Connectivity can be complicated in many buildings, and a cut-rate provider may not provide satisfactory service. The dot-com darlings in the late 90s and early 2000's left many landlords with telco closets full of cabling and equipment but no long term services for tenants after they flamed out from burning all their cash. Landlords and tenants both have a right to expect that any communications vendor working in a commercial space adheres to industry standards and best practices to ensure the tenant's network is safe, secure, and private but is also based on a business model that results in long term success. Over time, this has resulted in some commercial landlords to hire a company to manage their telco closets, risers and rooftops. Of course, greater demand for mobile service, requiring rooftop antenna's, have added to the need.

Unfortunately, not all building riser management companies deliver on their guarantees of quality, safety, or responsive service. These vendors are universally much more expensive than traditional telecommunications providers. They are an added layer (beyond the landlord and carrier) that is demanding to "get their beak wet".  While the partnership may benefit the landlord, commercial tenants are the ones left footing the bill and taking a risk on a vendor who may not be responsive, knowledgeable or fair with their pricing.

What a Building Riser Management Company Does

Building riser management companies are managed services providers who contract with commercial properties to maintain the telecom infrastructure.rooftop and/or building riser. Riser cabling is data and phone cabling which runs from the building's point-of-entry to telco closets on each floor. From the telecommunications closets, cables are connected to client office spaces to provide business phone, fax, and Internet services.

Historically, riser cabling was maintained by a local telephone services provider. Since the deregulation of the telecommunications industry, most commercial tenants have been allowed to hire their chosen network cabling provider to provide phone and internet connectivity. Riser management is a newer industry. These companies assume a role as the single point-of-contact for the building's riser. Their agreements with commercial landlords dictate that they will be the sole provider of alterations to riser cabling and telco closets.

From the viewpoint of commercial landlords, partnering with a riser management company can seem convenient. Commercial landlords believe their cabling infrastructure is in expert hands, and tenants pay the costs of extending service for voice, data and moves and changes. Unfortunately, new tenants are stuck without the ability to choose the vendor they want to work with and a massive bill for connectivity.

How Building Riser Management Can Negatively Impact Tenants

If you're considering leasing a space serviced by a riser management company, there are a few risks to keep in mind before signing a lease. While the quality of service provided can vary significantly depending on the riser management vendor, commercial tenants absorb higher costs.

Connecting your office space to voice and data cabling with a riser management company is likely to cost your organization $3,000 to $7,000. These costs can vary depending on your organization's telco requirements, building infrastructure, region, and other factors.

In contrast, working directly with a local business communications provider is likely to cost an average of $500. Building riser management services cost 6 to 14 times more than that of independent vendors.

Other risks can include the possibility that your organization will experience a lower level of service quality. Building riser management providers typically offer a single account manager, who will be your organization's point of contact. The vendor may not provide rapid response times to tenant requests, and their efforts to maintain the building's cabling infrastructure can also vary significantly.

Your best move is to get a quote directly from a local provider. If your company is the Washington, D.C. area, Atlantech Online can provide a comprehensive quote on the cost of connectivity in one business day.

What Tenants Can Do to Protect Themselves

If your organization is considering a move into a commercial space which is serviced by a building riser management company, you may not be stuck with excessive costs and variable service quality. Your organization is likely able to add a “Right to Choose” clause to your lease agreement.

Work directly with an attorney to add language which states that your organization is allowed to use the vendor of your choice for business telecommunications services, including cabling. The attorney will likely also clarify in this “Right to Choose” clause that you are not required to work with the building riser management company.

With this clause in place, your organization can select a reputable telecommunications provider that best fits your needs and budget for high-speed business Internet, phone service, data, and other communications needs. To find the best possible Internet provider, we recommend:

  • Selecting a provider with their own network to avoid paying fees to an intermediary
  • Understanding your organization’s service needs for enterprise or business-class internet
  • Prioritizing vendors close to the space to minimize installation costs
  • Bundling business phone, internet, and other services with a single provider to keep costs low
  • Verifying vendor experience and customer references to ensure satisfaction post-install

Atlantech Online provides excellent business Internet on our own network in the greater Washington DC Metro Area. We offer transparent quotes within 24 hours, unmatched customer support and 24/7 proactive network monitoring.

If you’re shopping for connectivity solutions, there are a few things you need to know. In this free guide, the experts at Atlantech Online have answers to the top questions to ask before you select a vendor. To learn more, download 10 Questions to Ask Before Buying Fiber Connectivity for Your Business.





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About the author:

Tom Collins (Twitter, LinkedIn) - is the Director of Enterprise Sales & Marketing for Atlantech Online. He has over 20 years of professional experience in the Internet Service Provider industry and is known for translating technology into positive results for business. A native of Washington, DC, a graduate from University of Maryland (degrees in Government & Politics and Secondary Education), Tom is also a five-time Ironman finisher.

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