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Clicks and mortar as the front door becomes a portal

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Five of the UK's largest property owners are coming together to procure advanced telecoms services and deliver these in their buildings. The first steps look only mildly interesting - the combined group of companies will have more purchasing power than each has separately in an area dominated by telecoms multinationals. Assuming, that is, that they can stay together. The five new commercial bedfellows are British Land, Canary Wharf, Legal & General, Norwich Union and Prudential.

Only a few years ago we were talking about building lifetimes in terms of long-life shells, medium-life services and short-life fit-out. This may still be true for most services.But the increasing pace of change in telecoms will make some of it the shortest life element in many buildings. For maintaining access to contemporary telecoms for occupants over a building's life, the initial project team becomes less important, the landlord or owner or facilities manager more so.

Which brings us back to the famous five. As building owners they can provide occupiers with a continuing service of telecoms provision, at a profit to themselves. One future result may be more commercial space being offered with centrally managed services, an approach more common in the US.

The five need not stop there. They have a total of 18 million m 2of property between them. If it were all offices that would add up to about one million occupants.

Even if we halve that, it is a user base many an Internet portal would be happy with. A significant power base for the famous five.And if all these occupants are networked together, then www. famousfive. com could be a significant Internet portal, hosting services for business and finance, travel and leisure, shopping and more. The Internet is indeed a potent force if it can turn Canary Wharf 's Paul Reichman into a net-head.

Barrie Evans is editor of www. ajplus. co. uk

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