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DALLAS-How do you spell relief for telecommunications providers seeking unlimited access? T-E-X-A-S.

For two years, unlimited building access has been mandated and with it came the teeth to complain. But so far, say executives, no one’s heard of anyone filing a complaint with the state PUC. Why? It’s simply driven by an inbred desire to service tenants. The legislation really wasn’t needed, concur executives from Ft. Worth-based Crescent Real Estate Equities Co. and Dallas-based Macfarlan Real Estate Services.

But as providers come knocking, they soon learn that building owners have the right to set license fees, typically ranging from $1,000 to $1,500 per structure, plus require contracts so that fly-by-night operators don’t trespass. It’s the “Don’t Mess with Texas” way co-mingled with lawmakers’ savvy to keep their hands off just how building owners would comply.

“Clearly it’s a case of the government passing a regulation that the market forces were going to do a better job of taking care of,” Keith Waggoner, Macfarlan’s COO tells GlobeSt.com. “The market forces have sufficiently made access a very effective process.” The bottom line, he says, is that building owners will get the providers that the tenants want–to stay competitive.

Unlimited access doesn’t translate into customers, as the telecom providers quickly learn. Macfarlan’s tenants ride with the ones providing the best service, particularly those operations without an on-site technician.

What unlimited access has brought are more carriers than are realistically needed per building, Waggoner explains. A class A, 200,000-sf suburban building typically attracts four providers when “it probably only justifies two,” he says. A one million-sf CBD building most likely would have eight signed up, but four could do the job just fine. Some high-rises of that size might have as many as 12, say Crescent executives.

Waggoner says the main problem today is keeping providers, who are still clamoring for access, from cluttering up back spaces in buildings and abandoning equipment when they don’t get a customer foothold.

But, the high-tech shakeout has rattled the cage of the big boys in the business. “Now, we’re seeing the better established come to the table who weren’t willing before to pay to come into the building,” says Crescent’s Howard Lovett, vice president of investments. And, he adds, unlimited access or open access “revolves around the concept of whether the provider is willing to pay.”

Still, it’s not the manna that providers thought it would be. Consolidations, takeovers and bankruptcies are forcing business plan changes to selectively choose structures to enter instead of mounting a full-wave assault to grab as many as they can. “It’s a matter of whether they can build the infrastructure to get the signals to the buildings and whether they can get customers,” says Mark Stanfield, Crescent’s director of new business and technology services. “A year ago, the value that access represented was the commitment of square feet that they could report to the capital markets. Today, it’s a reflection of the revenue stream that they can generate by doing business in the building.

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