Telecom and Site Selection
infrastructure is gaining importance as a site selection factor. With
the increasing impact of globalization on companies of all sizes,
communities with top-notch telecommunications have a definite advantage.
making major investments in facilities increasingly want to centrally
deliver key network, telephone, video, wireless, and ongoing technical
support services," adds McNutt. Reliable, high-bandwidth connection is
also essential for telecommuting, which is a growing trend in the
"Companies want choices," emphasizes Joe
McCourt, vice president of marketing and business development for
DukeNet Communications in Charlotte, North Carolina. "They understand
that the most important assets they have are their customers and their
data. Real-time access to this information from across the hall - or
across the globe - is a critical component of doing business. Many
companies today can employ data-based solutions across multiple
providers for added levels of resiliency. Cities that have a
competitive infrastructure quickly rise to the top as places to set up
a regional or headquarters presence."
Another big factor is
having several telecom players competing for services. Competition is
good for business by keeping technology advancing and costs down.
"Recent trends point to a formalization of relationships between
companies and wireless providers," says Littmann. "This formalization
takes the form of business pay and reimbursement plans. Flat rate
wireless pricing is taking over - stand-alone long distance is
But companies must still have a secure,
fiber-rich telecommunications framework. "Corporations today want and
need options, and are concerned about reliability as well as
scalability," says McCourt. Vendor diversity also plays into most
business continuity/disaster recovery planning strategies."
if the infrastructure is lacking, most ISPs will accommodate the
network needs of large enterprise businesses. "They will make custom
fiber runs to the businesses on an individual-case basis," says
Littmann. "However, it will cost considerably more to bring fiber to a
location that they aren't currently serving. Moreover, companies can
typically negotiate better deals if they exist in the proximity of two
major carriers' fiber runs."
has one of the strongest technology markets in the country - thanks in
part to its outstanding broadband connectivity and digital
infrastructure, including pervasive, fully redundant, self-healing
fiberoptic systems. Orlando also has two incumbent local exchange
carriers; the competition results in a high level of capital investment
in systems and infrastructure.
"Three of the top four growth
occupations through 2011 in Metro Orlando will be IT-related," says
Jennifer Wakefield, public relations director for the Metro Orlando
Economic Development Commission. "Our strength in telecom is attracting
companies like Convergys, Fiserv, Lockheed Martin, Oracle, Kirchman,
and Symantec." And it's not just the big guns coming to town - the
number of small businesses in Orlando has grown at an annual rate of 34
percent from 1998 to 2003.
Seattle has long been known as a
major telecommunications center, especially for wireless. "Our telecom
infrastructure has been critical to the growth of this city," says Tom
Flavin, president and CEO of enterpriseSeattle. "In the past Seattle
was a market for natural resource-based industries, but today our
economy is driven by knowledge-based companies. Microsoft added 4,000
employees last year and will add 2,000 in 2007 and 2,000 in 2008.
Google and Expedia are also here. Seattle attracts high-tech companies
because of its outstanding telecommunications infrastructure."
has also been the number-one retail market for three years in a row,"
adds Jeff Marcell, executive vice president and chief operating officer
for enterpriseSeattle. "We wouldn't have that ranking if we didn't have
outstanding growth, and we wouldn't have that growth without our IT
capabilities. The ripple effect is very strong."
Once known as
the steel capital of the nation, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, has cut the
cord to both its wired networks and the past. The Southside Bethlehem
Keystone Innovation Zone has developed a 2.5-square-mile broadband
wireless network to bring Wi-Fi access to a crucial group of people -
emerging business leaders. Ben Franklin Technology Partners spearheaded
the development of the network, which is now fully operational.
Wi-Fi network complements the Ben Franklin Business incubator and the
Bethlehem Technology Centers as an important support amenity to
early-stage technology firms," says Chad Paul, CEO of the Ben Franklin
Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania. "Through the network,
the Southside Bethlehem KIZ enables entrepreneurs to remain connected
during their companies' critical early stages."
Even before the
network was up and running, one of Ben Franklin's companies began
creating products for the zone and beyond. With a $25,000 investment,
hField Technologies developed the Wi-Fire Hi-Gain Wi-Fi Adapter to
extend the range and increase the connection speed of laptop and PC
users. The company received FCC certification for its product on August
31, 2006, and began selling it the next day.
As a final example,
Portland (ranked as the fifteenth most-wired city in the country) just
launched the first phase of its free, citywide wireless coverage (the
second phase that will expand the network is currently being
developed). By the time the project is finished in 2008, wireless will
cover about 95 percent of the city.
"As companies demand faster
and cheaper mobile access for their operations," notes Logan Kleier,
project manager for Portland's Bureau of Technology Services, "cities
that have a high-speed mobile communications infrastructure will be
better positioned to attract and maintain companies."
pace with the needs of the business community, and building
public/private partnerships to invest in the necessary infrastructure,
are high priorities for cities that want to create a dynamic business