Sebastian Seehusen began his career at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and subsequently spent several yers with other financial companies before successfully setting up WiredScore in 2017. A PropTech company, WiredScore evaluates the digital infrastructure of commercial real estate in the context of certification. We asked Sebastian why connectivity is such an important topic.
Viviana: We hear so much talk about connectivity at the moment, but how exactly would you define or characterize it? What are the major drivers of connectivity requirements today?
Sebastian: The connectivity of a building describes the quality and extent of its digital infrastructure access provided by telecommunications network operators. This includes copper, coaxial and fibre-optic cabling, wireless links and mobile reception. The optimum connectivity for current tenant requirements is provided by fibre-optic cable, ideally via two separately locations in the building in order to prevent possible Internet failures.
Connectivity is a prerequisite for an ever-more connected world. People are using communication to transcend borders and are relying to an ever-greater degree on an ever-increasing exchange of information. Distance and boundaries are melting away. Today, it’s just as easy to sing Happy Birthday to grandma via live video link, as to work together on a joint project with colleagues on another continent.
Viviana: Can you look into a crystal ball and see what connectivity requirements might look in five or ten years?
Sebastian: The number of internet users worldwide will continue to rise inexorably. The Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) predicts that by 2021 this will reach 4.6 billion, or 58 percent of the world’s entire population. This will be surpassed by an even greater increase in connectivity requirements as global data traffic continues its explosive growth, while an ever-increasing proportion of the data is generated by companies, rather than private users as was previously the case. This is mainly due to new applications such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, the use of software as a service (SaaS), video conferencing, smart buildings and new technologies, such as the fifth-generation mobile network (5G). As a result of this intensification of digitalization, global traffic will triple by 2021 compared to 2016, reaching 3.3 zettabytes (ZB) or 3,300,000,000,000,000,000 bytes per year. An almost inconceivable amount.
Viviana: A major trend in the real estate industry is flexible workspaces, co-working or at least shared or serviced offices. What’s the impact of this trend on connectivity requirements? Does a co-worker have particular requirements and needs?
Sebastian: In a co-working study this year Cushman & Wakefield concluded that connectivity is the most important criteria for users. The plug-and-play experience plays an important role, as users want to be able to set up their digital workplace anywhere, anytime. Co-working providers must accordingly pay particular attention to connectivity requirements of current and future users. Multiple separated fibre-optic connections are just as important as powerful end-user devices, as are mobile phone reception and Wi-Fi from the top to bottom of a building.
Viviana: In the context of shared or serviced offices, there is often talk of Spaces as a Service. What is really meant in terms of which services this concerns?
Sebastian: The pace of technological progress has sped up, making planning a company’s development increasingly difficult. Long-term leases don’t provide the flexibility tenants require. Here, we are seeing a rethink in which landlords offer shorter leases but at the same time increase the range of services. Thus, the office property of the future will provide its users with a comprehensive range of work-related services – from furnishings to security, cleaning, IT, catering, events, fitness facilities and mobility. In terms of connectivity, this would include a fibre-optic connection to the building, as well as free Wi-Fi coverage for tenants in office space, as a first step towards space as a service.
Viviana: In your opinion, what are the barriers to public Wi-Fi coverage in offices? Are there any risks or liabilities?
Sebastian: The major obstacle to providing free Wi-Fi in office buildings in the past was the owner’s duty of care liability. Under this law, providers of free internet access could be prosecuted for any copyright infringement by third parties. After its abolition in mid-2017, the legal situation for providers improved a great deal, although many of them are actually not yet aware of this change for the better.
Viviana: After 2G, 3G and 4G now comes 5G, the fifth generation which is soon to replace the previous mobile standard. Can you perhaps explain a little about how this technology will affect connectivity in the office real estate sector?
Sebastian: In addition to increasing the data rate and reducing latency, a 5G network offers lower power consumption and increased reliability. 5G also lays the groundwork for future technologies such as autonomous driving and will greatly enhance the user experience.
Nonetheless, terrestrial connectivity via the fibre optic network will remain essential for office real estate and also for the provision of the 5G network. In addition to the enormous investment necessary to provide 5G wireless network infrastructure, the high frequencies used can’t always completely penetrate walls and windows, reducing connection reliability.
Viviana: Digitization is progressing rapidly and there are reports of new innovations almost every day. In addition to the Internet of Things, LiFi comes to mind. What does it involve and what developments do you see coming?
Sebastian: LiFi stands for “Light Fidelity” and enables wireless and optical transmission of data at a much higher speed than today’s standard Wi-Fi. Instead of via electromagnetic waves, as in Wi-Fi, data is transmitted by light. In this case, an LED lamp is switched on and off extremely quickly by an upstream chip, which controls the data transmission and is connected to the Internet. The pulsing of the LED is so rapid that it is invisible to the human eye. Initial tests of LiFi technology under laboratory conditions have already achieved transmission speeds of up to 224 gigabits per second, where Wi-Fi only achieves 0.05 to 0.6 gigabits per second. In addition, LiFi offers a broader network bandwidth. The currently available spectrum is already reaching its limits, and new transmission methods such as LiFi are required, in order to offer the already highly-interconnected world still greater potential for future technologies and networking.
Viviana: Sebastian, thank you for the pleasant and informative conversation.
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Sebastian Seehusen, managing director of WiredScore in Germany. The proptech firm WiredScore evaluates the digital infrastructure of commercial real estate as part of a unique global certification program, the WiredScore Certification.
This interview was conducted by Viviana Plasil, Head of Marketing & Communications Germany at Cushman & Wakefield since December 2017. She leads the Marketing & Communications team, has extensive knowledge in Digital Marketing and will build and expand this area at Cushman & Wakefield Germany.