Location, Location, Location

News | January 22, 2021

3 min read

With tech-savvy buyers determined to evade sub-standard connection speeds, the battle for broadband is raging in residential.

An increase in remote working caused by the chaos of Covid-19, coupled with the burden placed on bandwidth by the ever-increasing popularity of streaming services and online gaming, has caused a significant shift in people’s property priorities.

Rapid and robust connectivity is now a key criterion for many in their search for a forever home, with reliable internet seen as a fourth utility alongside water, gas and electricity.

On the flip side, market analysts believe those sellers in broadband “blind spots” or situated at the extremes of a network’s spur could see as much as £40,000 knocked off the value of their properties.

The competition for connectivity is fiercer still in the commercial world and none more so than in the data centre sector. As the facilities responsible for enabling and storing all things internet related, these big data behemoths rely heavily on the infrastructure that sparked their creation.

Operating in a business in which success directly correlates to speed of service, the lower the latency afforded by a location the more desirable and habitable it becomes. It is no coincidence that Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Paris boast Europe’s biggest concentration of data centres – the cities straddle some of the internet’s major crossroads, making them hot spots for international connectivity.

However, as with sought-after streets in picture postcard villages or addresses providing access to the most desirable state schools, opportunities for taking up residence in these super-fast surrounds are rare. For example, space in the London Docklands – an important interconnection hub between Europe and North America – is a precious commodity and those investing in new data centre facilities are being forced to look further afield. The 80MW development we recently project managed the design, planning consent and construction for in Dagenham, Essex, is evidence of this widening of the internet’s net.

Shoehorning a data centre’s sizeable structure and footprint into a city centre location is generally no longer physically or financially viable and, unlike an urban dweller in search of more room, the solution is not as simple as escaping to the country.

While a spot in the Outer Hebrides, where there is no shortage of space and a plentiful supply of renewable power from surrounding wind farms, may sound like an ideal and idyllic alternative, the travel distance for fibre links currently make such remote operations a non-starter.

Similarly, there are sites across the UK that come with good connectivity but are devoid of the availability of power required to keep a data centre’s lights on.

Given plugging into a network from afar can prove extremely time consuming and costly, having a power station or large substation as an immediate neighbour would be considered a situational success. This, however, is another geographic aspiration that is hard to attain.

In brief, like anyone seeking to set down roots, finding a new home for a data centre is an exercise in compromise and one easier to execute with expert assistance.

Accepting that no location is perfect, an experienced surveyor can provide operators and developers with peace of mind about the viability and potential prosperity of a proposed site, highlighting the pros and cons and assessing any perceived risks associated with a plot.

Furthermore, the reassurance and insight available from a firm such as HartDixon extends far beyond the guidance given to house hunters by TV treasures Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer on hit show Location, Location, Location.

Offering a full consultancy and project management service, we can accompany clients on every step of their data centre journey – from initial planning consent to fit-out, move-in and ensuring goals are achieved throughout the lifecycle of the asset.

Securing a prime spot for future operations which are fit to serve a society increasingly dependent on cloud computing is a challenge, but connecting with the right people will prevent any unnecessary buffering to your business plan.

Stuart Hart

Senior Partner

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