Fibre fuels flexible working at Melbourne office

4Mbps up and down just the base at Lifestyle Working Collins Street

Lifestyle Working Collins Street is a green office building in Melbourne with a focus on flexible working.

Lifestyle Working Collins Street is a green office building in Melbourne with a focus on flexible working.

High-speed fibre broadband is critical to the design of Lifestyle Working Collins Street, a green office building in Melbourne that has emphasised flexible working.

The five-floor building, opened late last year by the Stable Group and Lend Lease, has many features that will attract the environmentally conscious. It has an open ceiling that lets fresh air into the common spaces, solar panels on the roof to take energy from the sun and a water system that harvests rain.

But in Australia where many still hungrily await the NBN, it may be the broadband options that will be most attractive to small and medium-sized businesses seeking a new place of work.

Each suite of the fibre-connected building includes an unlimited broadband connection with 4Mbps synchronous upload and download speeds. The connection has a four-to-one contention ratio, which measures the number of users sharing the connection at any one time (where a higher number results in lower bandwidth).

That level of broadband – offered as the base option – is better than ADSL and provides enough capacity for most companies, according to Dominic Morrow, who directs IT for the building and is general manager of ALL IT.

It comes at a competitive price, too. Morrow estimated that tenants who buy the base broadband service pay about $35 to $40 per month for their Internet.

Businesses that require a faster connection can pay to increase the speeds just about as much they want, he said. The building currently has 150Mbps but Morrow said this could be scaled up to 1Gbps.

While the building itself is connected by fibre, the fibre does not extend to each individual business suite. That would have significantly increased costs with minimum benefit to the tenants, said Morrow.

The fibre powers a converged network run over Cisco equipment that connects IP telephones, surveillance cameras and building management systems. In addition, free Wi-Fi is provided in all of the building’s common spaces via seven wireless access points. The service is paid for by the body corporate.

To further entice the IT savvy, the building offers a server room. For an extra charge, companies can free up space in their own suites by hosting services in a “semi-data centre” located on the ground floor of the building. Morrow said the data centre is secure and features redundancy in Sydney.

Flexible working is at the heart of the design decisions at Lifestyle Working, said Stable Group chairman, Ed Horton.

“Most of it’s around reducing operating costs, increasing energy efficiency and having this smart connectivity so you can work anywhere in the building and still stay connected seamlessly.”

The place is filling up fast, said Horton. Of the 137 suites offered when the building opened, only 12 remain.

“Compared to the rest of Melbourne, we’re paying less incentives to get tenants in here, getting higher rents than the rest of the market ... and people are very, very happy to pay it.”

Adam Bender flew to Melbourne as a guest of Cisco.

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of a dystopian novel about surveillance. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

Tags connectivityLifestyle Workingfibreflexible workingciscointernetNBNbroadbandCollins StreetMelbourne

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