Telecommunications infrastructure is an essential ingredient of any new development

Telecommunications infrastructure is an essential ingredient of any new development
Telecommunications infrastructure is an essential ingredient of any new development

We all take for granted that any new apartment project or housing estate will have the essential services of water, sewerage and electricity, the vast majority of buyers would not even question this fact.

But what about telecommunications infrastructure? Can we provide the same level of service guarantee?

I recently came across a quote that I recall went something like this: “ The availability of internet connection is as important as food and air in this era.”

With this declaration fresh in my mind I was recently walking through a shopping centre in the midst of one of the most densely developed areas of inner Sydney. All around me there were various cafes and casual seating areas full of people using mobile phones, tablets and computers.

Not just a few, but almost everyone, and a big number of people were also on Skype having long, almost like a face to face conversation as they had a coffee or simply sat in the public spaces to communicate with family and friends. Among all of this activity there were a large number of people on several mobile devices, they were clearly working in a very concentrated way, checking figures, placing orders, doing a great deal of productive work.

The café and mall now looks more and more like the workplace of today, these areas are always busy, always full of residents and visitors. In the 1700s the Industrial Revolution brought about a trend towards city living, which today is reaching its climax.

In the midst of the Communications Revolution, it has been predicted that by 2050 as many as 75% of us will live in cities, by contrast in 1900 the figure was only 10%. Alongside this mass movement of population, there will be pressure on housing, but alongside that there will be comprehensible pressure to deliver reliable communications, but more I suggest cutting edge communications will be needed if not demanded by everyone.

Good Enough is Not Good Enough and Who Pays

Generally today, most if not all new apartments are equipped with high-speed internet services, some older buildings may lag the trend and in some areas there may be a reliance on wireless technology.

However like the exchange of goods and services that was newly prevalent in the 1700s, today all communications and commerce, in fact our entire way of life and economy is connected 24/7. As urban density increases, the delivery of reliable telecommunications is vital, it is exactly just like the need for air and food.

But in the midst of such obvious need and demand are we doing a good job, is this vital infrastructure being delivered on-time, at a reasonable cost to developers and consumers. The role out of the NBN is an ongoing task for private enterprise and a key responsibility for government and for planners and it’s now a fundamental factor for the development industry.

Home buyers moving into a new estate or a new apartment building in any location across Australia, expect, and should have access to the best telecommunications. High-speed internet for example is no longer a novelty, not in 2015.

In a recent Property Council submission the Residential Development Council responding to the federal government’s release of its new developments policy made a number of very clear and what I think were worthwhile points. Key among which was the negative impacts on affordability that could flow from some of the policies outlined in the government’s policy.

The issue relates to the ‘fairness’ of asking home buyers, who already pay as much as $90,000 in Sydney and $80,000 in Melbourne and $60,000 in Brisbane, to pay still more money towards telecommunications infrastructure. Given how essential modern communications are today I agree with the Council when it says that critical communications infrastructure needs to be delivered in a timely, equitable and cost-effective way, avoiding extra charges and additional planning delays.

Personally I would think that the majority of people sitting in the cafes, I mentioned earlier would expect nothing less.

Peter Chittenden

Peter Chittenden

Peter Chittenden is managing director for residential of Colliers International.

New Developments Peter Chittenden

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