Southeast Real Estate Business

OCT 2016

Southeast Real Estate Business magazine covers the multifamily, retail, office, healthcare, industrial and hospitality sectors in the Southeast United States.

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Page 38 of 56

38 • October 2016 • Southeast Real Estate Business ZIPPING INTO ACTION Comporium's Zipstream broadband service is making waves in the Carolinas. Interview by John Nelson I nternet connectivity has emerged as a key consideration for office tenants, retailers and residents who rely on broadband service. The faster and more reliable the connection, the more satisfied the customer. Comporium, a Rock Hill, S.C.-based telecom company, has been leading the efforts in providing broadband services to businesses and residents in the Rock Hill area and surrounding counties. Southeast Real Estate Business recent- ly spoke with Matt Dosch, executive vice president of Comporium, about the company's growth strategy and services. The following is the edited interview: Southeast Real Estate Business: Tell me a little about Zipstream and what service it provides. What seg- ment of the working population does Zipstream cater to? Dosch: Zipstream is our brand name for our fiber-based gigabit broadband service. Gigabit is 1,000 megabits per second, it's dramatically faster than the standard broadband service that's delivered today. Standard service from other providers runs anywhere from 25 to 50 megabits per second. That's a relative jump in speed very similar to when the first broadband service came out 15 years ago where we went from 56K dial-up modems to 1,000K on broadband. In 2014, we introduced gigabit broadband to downtown Rock Hill, which is a 100-year-old, railway-based Main Street town. We are a large em- ployer in town, as well being a broad- band provider. We had a hand in an economic development strategy based on attracting creative class knowledge economy workers to downtown Rock Hill. The card that we could put on the table was advanced, cutting-edge broadband speeds, and we originally just operated in the historic down- town area of Rock Hill. It was so well received that we al- most immediately pivoted and started providing Zipstream to all of the resi- dential communities that we built out with fiber over the previous 10 years. Since 2004, any large new residential community of any size in Rock Hill, we have served with fiber to those homes. In 2014, we could go back and provide this gigabit service to those homes. After a year of network work, it became available to 30,000 homes served by our fiber network in a two- county area in the greater Charlotte metro area. SREB: What are some of the advan- tages and disadvantages of providing broadband service to customers and clients in the Carolinas? Dosch: We're blessed to be part of the Charlotte metro region. We're about 25 miles from downtown Char- lotte across the state line. We serve some other high-growth areas. We're in Lexington, S.C, which is to the west of Columbia. There was a fairly robust homebuilding market that had been going on in South Carolina prior to the market crash in 2008. After three or four years after the recession, that housing boom picked right back up again in the Charlotte market, as well as Lexington. Residential builders use services like broadband availability to com- pete with each other. In some mar- kets, homebuilders will market their homes as having access to mass tran- sit, but nowadays all home buyers are looking at having broadband avail- ability as a significant factor on where they choose to live. Builders acknowl- edge that and they in turn come to us looking for an edge. We found several builders active in our area that share our vision. They market their homes as being cutting edge from a technol- ogy perspective. SREB: Owners and developers of the newest office and multifamily build- ings boast about their internet con- nectivity in order to attract potential tenants. As someone in the industry, why is it so important for commercial owners to provide fast and reliable broadband service? Dosch: Researchers at the Universi- ty of Colorado Boulder and Carnegie Mellon University did a study in June 2015 and found that a home served by a fiber network had anywhere from a 1.8 to 3.1 percent lift in its home price. Developers from a bottom line per- spective see that homes served by fi- ber sell for more. Fiber-based connec- tivity definitely has a demonstrable impact on the value of homes. Depending on your target market, broadband is an amenity that checks the box for a variety of demographics. People are looking for higher speeds, so it's easy for a builder to have that amenity locked up and be able to point to it no matter who you're selling to. I've been talking about residential, but we absolutely go into multi-tenant commercial developments like strip malls, office complexes and multi-ten- ant office buildings. We work with the owners and managers of those build- ings to make sure that we can provide fiber-based services to those tenants. SREB: In the last decade, a major construction trend in the commercial real estate world has been the retrofit- ting and repurposing of existing prop- erties, and one of the top priorities during those renovations is installing a new fiber optic network. What are some of the challenges that come from providing connectivity to repurposed assets as opposed to installing net- works in new buildings? Dosch: It's dramatically more ex- pensive to provide a network to an ex- isting development versus one under construction for obvious reasons. Ret- roactively going in and trying to fish fiber into individual apartment units or business tenants, especially within older product that feature brick or concrete walls, that drives up the cost of getting our network throughout the building to where it needs to be. SREB: What's next on the horizon for Comporium as it relates to com- mercial real estate? Dosch: The next step is definitely smart home, or home automation, both on the commercial and residen- tial side. We have a robust suite of smart home applications that ride over our fiber plant, and we're look- ing now at modifying those and creat- ing business class services. The inter- net of things, smart homes and smart businesses, all of those connected ser- vices that ride over our fiber network are what we're focused on after we get the fiber into the business. n Sam's Real Estate has a combined 65 years of commercial real estate development experience. • Our experience includes development of single tenant net lease properties as well as multi-tenant and multi-story shopping centers. • We partner with national and regional tenants to repurpose well-located properties at signalized intersections. • We develop for our sister companies, Sam's Xpress ® Car Wash and Sam's Mart, for which we are actively seeking sites throughout the Carolinas and Virginia. How we can help you create real value? 704.940.3700

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