New ULI report explores the intersection of broadband infrastructure and real estate



According to a new ULI report, the real estate industry can simultaneously tackle inequality and drive property values ​​up by improving broadband access. Broadband and Real Estate: Understanding the Opportunitiesfrom the Curtis Infrastructure Institute Initiative, makes it clear that high-speed Internet is no longer a luxury but a necessity to participate in society and the economy.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down,” said Craig Lewis, chairman of the Curtis Infrastructure Initiative’s Global Advisory Board. “In almost the blink of an eye, the Internet has become our primary means of work, going to school, seeking medical attention, and more. Everyone deserves access to the opportunities the Internet provides, and this report shows us how we in the real estate community can help. ”

Access the report in the knowledge finder.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Broadband is required: Effective and fair broadband is essential for innovation and the adoption of new technologies and uses. Without adequate fiber optic connections, new uses of the Internet in real estate such as proptech technology, ride sharing or smart cities are not possible.
  • Universal meaning: The widespread adoption of broadband adds value to every sector of society, including the real estate industry, which can count on higher returns on high-speed Internet projects.
  • The digital divide: Policymakers and industry must tackle inequalities in Internet access. Rural communities face a lack of accessibility, while urban communities face a lack of accessibility and quality of existing services, leading to a digital red line.
  • Role of real estate: Developers can lead by leveraging their influence with regional planners and ISPs, both to increase ROI and bridge the digital divide.
  • Don’t get lost in the weeds: Property owners and developers do not need to understand all the technical details of the connection in order to apply its value to their projects. Communication should not be a special area, but rather a key part of the development process of all projects.
  • Inadequate regulation: The demand for high-speed Internet is expected to grow in the coming years, and government definitions of acceptable download and upload minimums are not keeping up with community needs.
  • Understand what you need: There is no single solution to the digital divide. Each community will have to determine what is best for it based on its needs. This will help develop a plan with achievable goals, ensuring effective coordination and partnership.

The report also highlights real estate and community initiatives that have expanded broadband access across cities and, as a result, increased the attractiveness of real estate and the equity of digital assets.

  • National landing in Northern Virginia uses access to top-tier networks as an incentive to attract tenants to their properties and neighborhoods. In 2020, JBG Smith, the predominant landlord in the area, bought seven Citizen Band Radio Spectrum units from the federal government. The $ 25 million upfront investment is likely to pay off by making National Landing a prime destination for tech-savvy entrepreneurs, universities, and tech companies looking for guaranteed high-speed broadband.
  • In 2019, the Sinclair Hotel Fort Worth, Texas implemented Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology to improve efficiency and reduce costs throughout the building. With PoE, a single Ethernet cable carries power and data throughout the building. Any power or internet interruptions throughout the building are logged at one central hub. This makes repairing a burned-out light bulb or faulty TV quicker and easier. In addition, PoE is powered by low voltage electricity, which reduces energy costs by 14 percent and cooling costs by 10 percent.
  • Local utility in Huntsville, Alabama, built a city-wide fiber optic network to increase the speed and throughput of water and electricity services. He then leased additional fibers to Internet service provider GoogleFiber, private businesses in the area, and government agencies such as the public school system. The 20-year lease of GoogleFiber alone will cover the utility’s costs of building the fiber optic network. The investment turned out to be profitable for the utility company, public organizations that received high-speed Internet access, and the entire city, which has now become much more attractive to the future industry.

“Communities across the country are realizing that broadband is critical to economic empowerment and future real estate development,” says Craig Lewis. “Broadband has become an indispensable tool for every project – just like water and electricity. It is the basis for all building communications and tenant expectations. But access is not enough. It also needs to be fast, reliable and forward-looking. “

Full Broadband and Real Estate: Understanding the Opportunities the report is available in the ULI Knowledge Finder.


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