Good to Know 2018-09-03T21:59:44+00:00

“IN THE GROUND and IN THE BUILDING”

Underground Utility Construction Terms

Underground service: Any utility service such as gas, electric or water, or any pipeline which transfers a substance above atmospheric pressure, or cable used for the transmission of electricity or data. It is normally below the adjacent ground level, but may emerge into the open or above ground for short sections of its length. It does not include drains, sewers, unsealed pipes or tunnels,.

Underground Services Coordinator: designated individual responsible for coordinating information or activity associated with, or likely to affect underground services.

Abbreviations

  • USAG Utility Strikes Avoidance Group
  • ENA Energy Networks Association
  • EUSR Energy & Utility Skills Register
  • NJUG National Joint Utilities Group
  • IGT Independent Gas Transporters
  • DNO Distribution Network Operator (Electricity)
  • BIM Building Information Management
  • CAT Cable Avoidance Tool
  • GENNY Signal Generator
  • LV Low Voltage
  • HV High Voltage
  • EHV Extra High Voltage
  • RAMS Risk Assessments & Method Statements
  • SSoW Safe System of Work

Horizontal Directional Drilling Terminology

Back reamer: tool used for enlarging the pilot bore, and for pulling the utility line (e.g., fiber optic cable) into the bore.

Bore: the extended underground cavity or hole created by the HDD process.

Casing: a pipe installed to stabilize a wider-diameter bore after drilling.

Conduit: plastic piping installed in a bore to protect fiber optic cable or low voltage power lines.

Drill stem and head: metal rod and drill bit that convey rotational force, transmit drilling fluid into the bore, and excavate soil and rock while cutting the bore.

Potholing: method used to excavate small test holes from the surface to a buried utility line to expose its location. Techniques range from hand digging to using mechanical digging tools.

Reception Pit: excavation into which trenchless technology equipment is driven and recovered following the installation of the product pipe, conduit, or cable.

Tracking device: a device used to track the boring progress along the drilling path using an electromagnetic field to detect the drill head.

Vacuum excavator: a system used to dig potholes by high-pressure air or water to break up and vacuum soil and expose buried utility lines.

Horizontal Directional Drilling is Green

Advances in technology have helped many industries reduce their environmental impact over the past few decades. Horizontal directional drilling, offered by the experienced team at Americom, is the eco-conscious choice of the drilling industry. Through the mountain west, directional drilling has quickly become a preferred “green” method for installing utilities and pipelines.

Using highly specialized equipment, Americom’s horizontal directional drilling allows for the placement of underground utility lines without the need for excavating or trenching. Not only does this method help to significantly cut down the costs of construction, it also greatly reduces the impact of the project on the surrounding environment.

Directional drilling in the mountain states is preferred over other more destructive cable and pipework installation methods. Trenching and cutting can cause significant disturbances to environmentally sensitive areas; and in the past, been considered the primary option. Today, horizontal directional drilling offers a much safer and more environmentally protective alternative.

In some of this region’s delicate environments, directional drilling has allowed for pipes and utilities to be installed around obstacles such as water, railroads, buildings, roads and protected landscapes. The ability to curve underground utility lines along a desired route creates far less disturbance both above and below ground than other traditional methods.

Because it causes such minimal disturbance, horizontal directional drilling allows the surrounding environment to remain unaltered. It poses little risk to wetlands, rivers, lakes, and preserved reclamation areas. It’s also an ideal method to maintain the integrity of driving surfaces by boring deep beneath the surface leaving roadways open and untouched during construction. Utilities and pipework can get where they need to go without needing to alter the environment or inconvenience traffic along the way.

Another major benefit of directional drilling is that it has minimal to no impact on sediment and steep slopes as witnessed in Utah’s Zion National Park in 2017. On this project, Americom crews were able to install a 360’ 8″ HDPE waterline through a solid rock hillside at a 55 degree bore without harming the integrity of the Park’s canyon walls. While trenching can significantly contribute to erosion, Americom’s horizontal directional drilling team was easily able to navigate around sensitive sloping areas and maneuver up the majestic cliffs of the Park without disrupting the magnificent landscape.

By choosing Americom for your next industrial, commercial, or municipal project, you can rest assured you’re making the “right choice.” Don’t hesitate to call Americom and find out if your project can be completed using the environmentally friendly methods of horizontal directional drilling.

Fiber Optic Cable Construction & Types

Click on a section title below to read more.

Multimode cable has a large-diameter core and multiple pathways of light. It is most commonly available in two core sizes: 50-micron and 62.5-micron.

Multimode fiber optic cable can be used for most general data and voice fiber applications such as adding segments to an existing network, and in smaller applications such as alarm systems and bringing fiber to the desktop. Both multimode cable cores use either LED or laser light sources.

Multimode 50-micron cable is recommended for premise applications?(backbone, horizontal, and intrabuilding connections). It should be considered for any new construction and for installations because it provides longer link lengths and/or higher speeds, particularly in the 850-nm wavelength, than 62.5-micron cable does.

Multimode cable commonly has an orange or aqua jacket; single-mode has yellow. Other colors are available for various applications and for identification purposes.

Single-mode cable has a small (8–10-micron) glass core and only one pathway of light. With only a single wavelength of light passing through its core, single-mode cable realigns the light toward the center of the core instead of simply bouncing it off the edge of the core as multimode does.

Single-mode cable provides 50 times more distance than multimode cable does. Consequently, single-mode cable is typically used in high-bandwidth applications and in long-haul network connections spread out over extended areas, including cable television and campus backbone applications. Telcos use it for connections between switching offices. Single-mode cable also provides higher bandwidth, so you can use a pair of single-mode fiber strands full-duplex at more than twice the throughput of multimode fiber.

Fiber optic cable consists of a core, cladding, coating, buffer strengthening fibers, and cable jacket.

The core is the physical medium that transports optical data signals from an attached light source to a receiving device. It is a single continuous strand of glass or plastic that’s measured (in microns) by the size of its outer diameter.

All fiber optic cable is sized according to its core’s outer diameter. The two multimode sizes most commonly available are 50 and 62.5 microns. Single-mode cores are generally less than 9 microns.

The cladding is a thin layer that surrounds the fiber core and serves as a boundary that contains the light waves and causes the refraction, enabling data to travel throughout the length of the fiber segment.

The coating is a layer of plastic that surrounds the core and cladding to reinforce the fiber core, help absorb shocks, and provide extra protection against excessive cable bends. These coatings are measured in microns (µ); the coating is 250µ and the buffer is 900µ.

Strengthening fibers help protect the core against crushing forces and excessive tension during installation. This material is generally Kevlar® yarn strands within the cable jacket.

The cable jacket is the outer layer of any cable. Most fiber optic cables have an orange jacket, although some types can have black, yellow, aqua or other color jackets. Various colors can be used to designate different applications within a network.

Multimode and single-mode patch cables can be simplex or duplex.

Simplex has one fiber, while duplex zipcord has two fibers joined with a thin web. Simplex (also known as single strand) and duplex zipcord cables are tight-buffered and jacketed, with Kevlar strength members.

Because simplex fiber optic cable consists of only one fiber link, you should use it for applications that only require one-way data transfer. For instance, an interstate trucking scale that sends the weight of the truck to a monitoring station or an oil line monitor that sends data about oil flow to a central location.

Use duplex multimode or single-mode fiber optic cable for applications that require simultaneous, bidirectional data transfer. Workstations, fiber switches and servers, Ethernet switches, backbone ports, and similar hardware require duplex cable.

PVC cable (also called riser-rated cable even though not all PVC cable is riser-rated) features an outer polyvinyl chloride jacket that gives off toxic fumes when it burns. It can be used for horizontal and vertical runs, but only if the building features a contained ventilation system. Plenum can replace PVC, but PVC cannot be used in plenum spaces.

“Riser-rated” means that the jacket is fire-resistant. However, it can still give off noxious fumes when overheated. The cable carries an OFNR rating and is not for use in plenums.

Plenum-jacketed cables have FEP, such as Teflon®, which emits less toxic fumes when it burns. A plenum is a space within the building designed for the movement of environmental air. In most office buildings, the space above the ceiling is used for the HVAC air return. If cable goes through that space, it must be “plenum-rated.”

Distribution-style cables have several tight-buffered fibers bundled under the same jacket with Kevlar or fiberglass rod reinforcement. These cables are small in size and are typically used within a building for short, dry conduit runs, in either riser or plenum applications. The fibers can be directly terminated, but because the fibers are not individually reinforced, these cables need to be terminated inside a patch panel, junction box, fiber enclosure, or cabinet.

Breakout-style cables are made of several simplex cables bundled together, making a strong design that is larger than distribution cables. Breakout cables are suitable for riser and plenum applications.

Both loose-tube and tight-buffered cables contain some type of strengthening member, such as aramid yarn, stainless steel wire strands, or even gel-filled sleeves. But each is designed for very different environments.

Loose-tube cable is specifically designed for harsh outdoor environments. It protects the fiber core, cladding, and coating by enclosing everything within semi-rigid protective sleeves or tubes. Many loose-tube cables also have a water-resistant gel that surrounds the fibers. This gel helps protect them from moisture, so the cables are great for harsh, high-humidity environments where water or condensation can be a problem. The gel-filled tubes can also expand and contract with temperature changes. Gel-filled loose-tube cable is not the best choice for indoor applications.

Tight-buffered cable, in contrast, is optimized for indoor applications. Because it’s sturdier than loose-tube cable, it’s best suited for moderate-length LAN/WAN connections, or long indoor runs. It’s easier to install as well, because there’s no messy gel to clean up and it doesn’t require a fan-out kit for splicing or termination.

Indoor/outdoor cable uses dry-block technology to seal ruptures against moisture seepage and gel-filled buffer tubes to halt moisture migration. Comprised of a ripcord, core binder, a flame-retardant layer, overcoat, aramid yarn, and an outer jacket, it is designed for aerial, duct, tray, and riser applications.

This fiber cable is jacketed in aluminum interlocking armor so it can be run just about anywhere in a building. Ideal for harsh environments, it is rugged and rodent resistant. No conduit is needed, so it’s a labor- and money-saving alternative to using innerducts for fiber cable runs.

Outside-plant cable is used in direct burials. It delivers optimum performance in extreme conditions and is terminated within 50 feet of a building entrance. It blocks water and is rodent-resistant.

Interlocking armored cable is lightweight and flexible but also extraordinarily strong. It is ideal for out-of-the-way premise links.

Laser-optimized multimode fiber cable assemblies differ from standard multimode cable assemblies because they have graded refractive index profile fiber optic cable in each assembly. This means that the refractive index of the core glass decreases toward the outer cladding, so the paths of light towards the outer edge of the fiber travel quicker than the other paths. This increase in speed equalizes the travel time for both short and long light paths, ensuring accurate information transmission and receipt over much greater distances, up to 300 meters at 10 Gbps.

Laser-optimized multimode fiber cable is ideal for premise networking applications that include long distances. It is usually aqua colored.

What Are Fire-Resistive or Fire-Rated Cables?

The definition of a fire-resistive or fire-rated cable is a cable that will continue to operate in the presence of a fire. This is commonly known as a circuit integrity (CI) cable and is 2-hour fire-rated.

Mineral Insulated (MI) cable has provided this added protection for decades. MI cable construction uses copper conductors, magnesium oxide and a copper sheath. MI cable comes in single and multiconductor versions. This 2-hour fire-resistive cable is designed for emergency power circuits for fire pumps and emergency generators. MI is labor-intensive and difficult to install and, therefore, is rarely used in low-voltage fire protection and emergency voice systems.

With new developments in wire and cable technology and recent changes in the NEC, a variety of new products have become available. These new CI cables are commonly used in fire alarm and voice communications systems. NEC 760.176 (F) requires CI cables for NFPA fire alarm systems used to meet the survivability of critical circuits requirements and be listed for that function per NFPA 72. Conformance to the code requirements of circuit survivability will ensure the performance of the fire alarm system during a fire emergency.

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What Are Flame-Retardant Cables?

The definition of flame-retardant cable is a cable that will not convey or propagate a flame as defined by the flame-retardant or propagation tests.

Flame-retardant tests measure flame propagation for both horizontal and vertical applications. There are also plenum cable flame tests for use in ducts, plenums or other spaces used for environmental air distribution. The NFPA 262 is the same as CSA FT-6; it measures flame spread and smoke generation in a simulated air handling plenum. Cables used in plenums are required to have a more stringent test than that of the horizontal or vertical flame tests.

The Main Difference

There are enormous differences between flame-retardant cables and fire-resistive cables. Typically, flame-retardant cables resist the spread of fire into a new area, whereas fire-resistive cables maintain circuit integrity and continue to work for a specific time under defined conditions. These circuit integrity cables continue to operate in the presence of a fire and are sometimes called 1-hour or 2-hour fire-rated cables. The differences between these two ratings are essential for the critical circuits required for life safety requirements.

Is a flame-retardant cable also fire-rated?

No. A flame-retardant cable is not a fire-rated cable. A flame-retardant cable is designed only to restrict the spread of a fire by inhibiting combustion. Fire-resistive cables maintain circuit integrity and continue to work for a specific time under defined conditions such as fire.

When do you need a fire-rated circuit integrity cable?

Circuit integrity cable is needed when circuit integrity is essential for life safety or when it is critical to prevent a plant shut down. The NEC provides additional requirements.

What is a plenum?

A plenum is the air return path of a central air handling system. It can be either ductwork or open space over a suspended ceiling or raised floor.

What is the difference between riser-rated and plenum-rated cables?

Plenum-rated cables have a higher flame-resistance requirement than riser-rated cables. Riser-rated cables are installed between floors through cable risers and in elevator shafts. They must self-extinguish and prevent fire from traveling up the riser between the floors or elevator shafts. A typical jacket material for riser-rated cable is PVC. Typical jacket compounds for plenum-rated cable are FR-PVC, FEP, PVDF and ECTFE.

Do tray cables in the U.S. need to pass a flame test?

Yes. They must pass one of the UL 1685 vertical tray flame tests to be UL-listed.

If you have questions or concerns about the structured cabling in your facility, contact Americom for a FREE site assessment.

Americom is a 37-year expert in structured cable design, installation, and maintenance. Call us today and find out why we’re “The Right Choice” for your next cabling project.

Americom helps architects to identify, consider and budget technology at the beginning of the design process and ensures that technology is optimally integrated for function and design.

Your savings to the project will be significant. Americom can play a vital role in any architectural project where electronically enabled communication is important.

Call 801-892-0500 or contact us today!

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Integrating Technology Into Architecture

by Craig Park FSMPS, Assoc. AIA, Principal Consultant, The Sextant Group
Marshal McLuhan said, “The medium is the message.” More true today than ever, with the increased use of audiovisual, IT, building energy management, and security technologies in commercial and institutional buildings, McLuhan’s words ring true. As a result, architects and interior designers find they are working earlier and more closely with technology consultants in their designs.

Many firms find that considering technology early in the design process helps inform and improve the resulting building. I had the opportunity to speak with several architects about technology integration in their projects.

Jennifer K. Cordes, AIA, LEED® AP, Principal with SLATERPAULL Architects in Denver, Colorado, comments,

“Our clients recognize that information and possibilities lie far beyond the four walls of their project. Today’s buildings have the potential to link people to the outside world in real time. Technology has helped us achieve this goal and thus the technology designers have become an integral part of our design teams. Their knowledge and vision continually help us crystallize our concepts for innovative learning environments.”

Rod Kruse, FAIA LEED® AP, Principal with BNIM in Des Moines, Iowa, adds,

“Early and continued identification and coordination of the audiovisual requirements as an integral part of the design process is critical to the ultimate success of the facility and reduces the need for redesigning later in the process.”

Engaging a technology professional to identify, consider and budget technology at the beginning of the project process ensures that the design optimally integrates technology. The savings to the project can be significant. Technology planning itemizes first costs for a responsible minimum investment and provides benchmarks for long-term cost of ownership.

Brad Lukanic AIA, LEED® AP, Principal – Higher Education, with CANNON DESIGN in New York, New York, says, “Technology’s infusion into architecture can no longer be considered an afterthought in planning buildings today. As architects and planners it is imperative we collaborate with our technology partners at the earliest stages of a project to best respond to the changing dynamics of learning, teaching, and exploring.”

John C. Guenther, FAIA, LEED® AP, Architect in St. Louis, Missouri, notes, “Buildings continue to evolve and transform into ever more flexible spaces to handle a range of applications and approaches for a broad range of clients. Rapidly changing media and technology used to transmit information raise issues ranging from sight lines to natural and artificial lighting, from acoustics to material selections, from planning for flexible, adaptable uses and reconfigurations to providing for a supporting, flexible, and user-friendly infrastructure.”

Creating a Technology Vision

Before the project program is developed, clients benefit from “blue sky” visionary thinking of what could be, not just what is. Scheduling a technology visioning session before a project starts can open the eyes of building owners and occupants to new possibilities. While some of these options may not be economically or technically viable, the building design should consider accommodating their future availability. A technology vision focuses on capabilities to improve communication, collaboration and content.

Annette Wiley, AIA, LEED® AP, Associate Principal and Interior Design Discipline Leader at Perkins+Will in Los Angeles, CA, says, “Our clients are looking for increasingly sophisticated solutions for audiovisual systems that drive everything from branding and identity to distance learning, visualization to research labs studying the impact of creativity on brain functions. Achieving all these applications requires early involvement, innovative thinking and collaboration between the audiovisual designer and the architectural design team.”

Emerging technologies are quickly moving from Hollywood’s imagination to the boardroom making early planning more important. Cordes notes, “We have found that close coordination between the architect and technology designer is critical to the success of the project. We start with user group meetings that brainstorm the vision for the building. Once established, our team meets regularly with the technology designer to realize this vision through continuous coordination.”

Kruse adds, “Audiovisual goals and requirements play a significant role in the shaping of the plan and volumetric provision of a facility. Understanding the impact of technology systems is essential during the early phases of design to assure a successful project.”

The Importance of Infrastructure

The best investment any building designer can make to accommodate technology is a robust and flexible infrastructure.

With the advent of sensor technology, it has become credible to plan for a truly “self aware” building. With technology systems controlling everything from projectors to room dimming systems, window shades and HVAC, an intelligent building design can mitigate energy usage while providing the occupants with a simplified and enriched experience and helping achieve sustainability goals.

Cordes notes, “Infrastructure for future technology must be explored. Technology is constantly evolving and the only way to keep up is to ‘imagine’ the possibilities. We have found that a wired infrastructure is required even in the ever-growing ‘wireless’ environment.”

The technology consultant plays a vital role in any architectural project where electronically enabled communication is important. The architectural designer and the consultant collaborate to achieve the architect’s vision for the project.

Adding the client perspective, Jay Bond, AIA, Associate Vice President for Facility Management, California State University, Fullerton, says, “Increasingly, technology systems are an essential part of our learning environments. Early and frequent communication and coordination among the faculty users, architects, engineers, facility managers, campus IT managers, and the consultants is essential if expectations are to be met. The consultant can play a crucial role in ensuring that the right questions get asked at the right time, and that proper answers are provided.”

Lukanic concluded, “Within the higher education landscape, technology is fundamental to learning, the acquisition of knowledge and sharing in collaborative ways among students and faculty alike. Today’s incoming freshmen are fundamentally different from those five and ten years ago in how they engage in learning. Tomorrow’s student and their exposure to rich forms of technology at even younger ages will fundamentally shape the education landscape in new unforeseen ways.”

The Benefits

As many of these architects note, it is critical today for the designers and their technology advisors to work together to create spaces that not only meet the client’s needs and goals, but achieve a high degree of technology integration, improved communication and collaboration and result in an enhanced experience. As technology becomes more of a utility than a specialty, the occupants and users of buildings expect high levels of easy-to-use resources. Integrating technology into architecture is an important step to meeting this goal.

Portions of this were drawn from Meet Your Future Partner by Craig Park, and published in PRO AV magazine. These excerpts appear here with permission. Craig Park FSMPS, Assoc. AIA, is a principal with The Sextant Group, and is based in Omaha, Nebraska. Trained as an architect, Craig has practiced as an AV consultant for more than 25 years.

Americom’s commitment to providing each crew member and underground construction professional with the most comprehensive safety training, equipment, and procedures in the industry sets them apart.

By utilizing innovative technologies, including utility locators, horizontal directional drilling (HDD) guidance equipment, and equipment machine controls, Americom has established itself as the premier source of underground utility installation, maintenance and inspection of underground pipe and cable. For more information, contact us today!

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Safely locating utilities Is the First Step in Preventing Utility Strikes

Preventing damage to buried utilities is an ongoing effort for utility providers, contractors who install utilities, and others who perform any type of construction or work that excavates or displaces the ground.

Damage to buried utilities disrupts essential services that are costly and time consuming to repair or replace. Utility hits also can cause severe injury and death – an equipment operator whose tool or machine cuts a power cable is at risk for serious shock or electrocution. Cutting or nicking a high-pressure natural gas line can result in a major disaster when migrating gas enters a building or buildings and is ignited by a pilot light or other flame.

While damage control initiatives have made great progress in recent years, much remains to be done. In fact, the latest Common Ground Alliance (CGA) Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) report estimates that in 2016 there were approximately 379,000 utility hits with direct costs to stakeholders conservatively estimated at $1.5 billion.

Randy Hawks, Americom’s Director of Utility Services stated “We often times find underground utility lines not marked properly by the municipality or utility company. Underground services such as Call Before You Dig are not always 100% reliable. Some records are several decades old. Taking locations for granted can be a costly mistake.”

CGA, the nonprofit, member-driven organization dedicated to establishing and promoting practices to prevent damage to underground utility infrastructure, is a driving force in developing guidelines that when correctly implemented help protect buried infrastructure, including Best Practices, and DIRT reports that provided data about root causes of accidents reported in confidence by industry stakeholders.

Most guidelines and best practices place accurately locating and marking existing utility as the first step in preventing accidental utility strikes.

“We continue to see less concerned companies attempting to secure contracts by eliminating the time it takes and the investment of equipment to properly locate utility lines before digging. This is not only dangerous but gives quality utility construction companies a bad reputation when gas, water, or electrical lines are carelessly damaged… Americom will never lower it’s standards of safety and protocol to win a job…The protection of crews, customers, and the public, as well as our 37-year reputation of doing things right the first time far outweigh the risk… we have our systems in place for a reason” says Pat Richter, CEO at Americom… “we will not compromise our quality and character.”

Subsite Electronics contributed to portions of this article.

Americom is committed to ensuring each employee return to their homes and families safely every day and ensuring our customers that their jobsites are a safe working environment for everyone involved.

Call or contact us online today and find out why Americom is the right choice for your next project.

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OSHA’S top ten safety violations

June is National Safety Month, so what better time to discuss safety awareness to help you protect yourselves and your teams. These are OSHA’s Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards in Construction from 2017. Make safety a priority on every jobsite in 2018.

Below is the Top 10 Frequently Cited OSHA Standards for Construction for the 2017 fiscal year.

  1. Fall Protection – FY2016 Top 10 Rank: 1 – Number of Citations: 5,378
  2. Scaffolds – FY2016 Top 10 Rank: 2 – Number of Citations: 2,644
  3. Ladders – FY2016 Top 10 Rank: 3 – Number of Citations: 1,989
  4. Fall Protection – FY2016 Top 10 Rank: 4 – Number of Citations: 1,353
  5. Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment – Eye and face protection. – FY2016 Top 10 Rank: 5 – Number of Citations: 1,125
  6. Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment – Title: Head protection. – FY2016 Top 10 Rank: 8 – Number of Citations: 700
  7. Toxic and Hazardous Substances – FY2016 Top 10 Rank: 6 – Number of Citations: 688
  8. Scaffolds, Title: Aerial lifts. – FY2016 Top 10 Rank: 9 – Number of Citations: 629
  9. General Safety and Health Provisions – FY2016 Top 10 Rank: 7 – Number of Citations: 603
  10. Fall Protection – FY2016 Top 10 Rank: 10 – Number of Citations: 556

(Note: The rankings and number of citations issued are current as of October 2, 2017.)

The top five remained in the same order as last year. There was some shakeup in the six through nine spots, but none of the standards from last year fell out of the top 10. It’s disconcerting that over half of the top 10 list deals with fall protection or working at height with scaffolding, aerial lifts and ladders since falls remain the number one cause of worker deaths in the construction industry. The fact that head protection and eye and face protection continues to make the list is also troubling since it is such an easy and inexpensive fix.

Americom Technology has been partnering with developers, contractors, and CRE management professionals for over 37-years.

Americom’s expertise in information technology and communication infrastructure have provided thousands of professionals with state of the art information technology solutions. From new-builds to existing structures, Americom will keep your broadband technology up-to-code and up-to-date with room to grow. Call 801-892-0500 today and ask about a “free building assessment” and see why Americom is the right choice for your building communication networks.

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Broadband Technology: The fourth utility

Reliable, fast internet is a hot topic in the real estate community, with developers and real estate professionals comparing the necessity of integrating the fastest speeds into new buildings to the importance of installing plumbing. The importance factor has been upped due to the demand of tenants. As put by Greg Mcdonald, director of telecom support for Greystar, a real estate management group, “I wouldn’t say (renters) ask for it. They expect it. If it’s not there, they won’t live (or work) there.”He continues, Millennials in particular have come to expect the highest internet speeds. As more and more of our daily activities are based online, for many, high-speed internet also serves as the source of television and phone service.

According to Lee Bienstock, a Google executive from New York, we’re way beyond the thinking that “everyone is connected”. In fact, it’s at the point where “everything is connected”. Americans will on average have 50 web-connected devices in their homes in about five years, which will all run on broadband networks that will be on task to handle this massive traffic. As a result, these buildings will have to be developed with a level of connectivity that is capable of handling this many devices, or undergo expensive retrofits; a cost no developer is willing to or wants to pay.

Even more important to consider are the many benefits to commercial real estate owners that broadband internet provides. First is the efficiency that faster speeds provide a company. Every second that is spent waiting for pages to load is a second wasted, and because time is money, slow internet is a waste of money as well.

Second,  your slow internet speed may not be attributed solely to your provider. Your building’s IT infrastructure, design, and construction materials may also play a big part in communication performance. A thorough assessment is recommended for facilities to achieve optimal performance.

Fast internet also means faster uploads. The standard is a minimum of 3 Mbps per second upload, however many business plans are significantly larger than that. Another benefit of high speed Internet is the reduction of costs it provides. One way it affects the bottom line is by allowing companies to use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), a technology that uses the Internet to make phone calls and almost always requires a broadband connection. Grant Thorton Inc., for example, saved $800,000 dollars the first year they used a VoIP setup.

Last but not least is the positive effect broadband has on fostering better collaboration between employees, especially when the company uses sharing platforms such as Google Documents. Broadband enables the use of more electronic devices in general, which directly translates to an increase in revenue. According to testimony by Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary for Communications, Lawrence Strickling, before the House Small Business Committee, “A SNG study of 600 North Carolina businesses demonstrated a direct correlation between revenue growth and the use of broadband technologies (what SNG terms “e-solutions”).” Companies that adopted cutting edge broadband-enabled technologies found an increase in revenue of 27-31%. This means that cutting edge broadband technology isn’t a luxury amenity for commercial real estate owners, it’s a necessity. After all, you wouldn’t run a business without running water, gas or electric, so why would you run one without the best broadband technology available? (Portions of this article were drawn from Everstream)

Fiber Optic Broadband Boosts Value of Multifamily Homes

FTTH Council releases study showing access to fiber-delivered Internet raises rental values by up to 8 percent, and purchase prices of condos by 2.8 percent.

During today’s FTTH Connect conference, the Fiber to the Home (FTTH) Council Americas released a study finding fiber broadband increases rental and property values in multiple dwelling units (MDUs) by 8 percent and 2.8 percent respectively. Higher rental and sales values mean better bottom lines for MDU owners and operators. Using  base financial data from the National Apartment Association, the study estimates fiber can add 11 percent to net income for MDU owners and operators per average apartment unit.

Using a survey of MDU residents in the U.S. and Canada, study author RVA, LLC investigated the relationship between ultra-high speed, reliable broadband on both residents and properties. Respondents were asked to consider what discount would have to be given on a otherwise equal $300,000 condominium purchase or on $1,000 monthly rent for them to live where they would not have access to fiber. The results showed owners would need an average discount of $8,628 while renters would require an $80 discount per month.  Almost 30 percent of people in the US live in multifamily housing, both renters and owners.

“Today’s findings add to the growing body of evidence that fiber is a win for communities, for consumers and for property owners,” said FTTH Council President and CEO Heather Burnett Gold, “This study is another tool network providers can use in their discussions with MDU owners and operators as they seek to deploy fiber, meaning faster and more numerous deployments throughout North America.”

“The benefits of all-fiber, ultra-fast broadband networks are clear to people, so much so that it influences where they will live,” said FTTH Council Board Chairman Mike Hill, “Today’s findings further validate our mission as an organization: to promote investment in and adoption of fiber services throughout the country. We’re looking forward to working with more providers, communities and leaders to make that happen.”

Additional findings from the survey include:

  1. Fast and reliable broadband is now rated the single most important amenity for MDU residents, more important than a pool, 24-hour security monitoring, covered parking, gym access and even cable TV.
  2. Fiber access increases resident satisfaction with the property itself, and appears to reduce churn, helping building owners and operators maintain high levels of occupancy and provide a quality living environment.
  3. There is evidence that residents in MDUs with better broadband also spread the word, reducing customer acquisition costs for these MDU properties.
  4. Beyond just having access to ultra-high-speed broadband, people who live in MDUs want access to multiple providers, ranking provider choice as 6th out of 12 possible MDU amenities.

Survey speed tests and questions about service needs, show fiber-based broadband in MDUs is significantly more reliable and offers greater speeds than other technologies.

Americom is the 35-year-old expert that connects fiber to your buildings and connects your buildings to your tenants. When you’re ready to boost the value of your multi-family dwellings, call us – we’ll get you connected, we’re the right choice.

The Right Choice for Security Systems - Americom Technology

Americom works with exclusive industry leading partners to provide complete Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) and Access Control Systems for business applications.

Our security experts will guide you through the various systems that are available through our professional Access Control & CCTV partners and will help you decide which system is best for your facility. Call 801-892-0500 or contact us online today and find out why Americom is the right choice for your facility security system.

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New Tax Reform Allows Full Price Deductions for Fire, Alarm and Security Systems

Silver Spring, Md.—On Dec. 22, President Donald Trump signed into law H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, P.L. 115-97, which implements tax reform to lower the after-tax cost of security and fire protection systems for small- and medium-sized businesses.

The Security Industry Association (SIA) led a coalition of industry groups urging negotiators to accept a Senate-backed provision for tax reform to expand deductions under Section 179 of the IRS tax code, which empowers businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying equipment and/or software purchased or financed during the tax year.The revised tax code permanently expands eligibility for deductions to fire protection, alarm, and security systems, along with other equipment, placed in service in 2018 and beyond.

“Since 2003, SIA has advocated in favor of federal tax code changes allowing businesses to fully expense the cost of implementing safety and security measures during the year in which they incur those costs,” said SIA CEO Don Erickson. “Our efforts finally have culminated in these tax code revisions, which eliminate a significant disincentive to adopting new and effective security and life safety technology, particularly at a time of rapid advancement for security tech. SIA is pleased the White House and Congress saw the importance of making it more affordable for businesses to best ensure the safety of their patrons and employees.”

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