The need for 5G in commercial new builds

Kordia Solutions deploys a 5G ready in-building solution in $1billion Auckland development

One of New Zealand’s hottest addresses has looked to Kordia Solutions for the deployment of a 5G ready in-building solution as a core component of its ‘ready for work’ design.

The $1billion Commercial Bay development incorporates the new PwC Tower, HSBC Tower, Jarden House, AMP Centre, and 1 Queen Street (under development). It also straddles the two newly constructed tunnels which will form part of the City Rail Link (CRL).

Standing 180 metres tall, the new PwC Tower at Commercial Bay offers approximately 130,000sqm of premium office space for up to 10,000 people. The Commercial Bay retail precinct is home to more than 120 local and international retailers, health and beauty amenity as well as bars, restaurants and eateries.

Glen White, general manager at Kordia Solutions, explains that as New Zealand rolls out fifth-generation cellular networks, known as 5G, Kiwis can look forward to far faster download speeds.

“There is an expectation that the eventual throughput of up to 10 gigabits per second will see these networks used for general internet access,” White says.

“However, 5G networks use higher-frequency radio waves which means they have a shorter physical range, and the signals do not readily penetrate buildings and other obstacles.”

For this reason, new buildings such the PwC Tower require the installation of a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) to transport cellular signals so users get an unimpeded experience of the mobile network’s capabilities.

“It is estimated that 70% of cellular calls and 80% of data traffic originates from within buildings, so providing adequate coverage is a necessity,” says White.

Modern ways of working demand exceptional connectivity

As owner, developer and now manager for Commercial Bay, Precinct Properties was encouraged from the outset to include Kordia’s distributed antenna system in the build.

Precinct’s chief executive officer, Scott Pritchard, says: “Enabling future ways of working rely on excellent technology which is only as good as its connectivity. It was important we provide our clients with the best connectivity. Even though 5G is not yet widely adopted, we have future proofed this development and our clients will have the ability to utilise 5G without complication.”

With a proven capability delivering in-building coverage solutions across Australia, New Zealand and the wider Pacific, Kordia Solutions was the natural choice for the introduction of the DAS.

Project delivery included solution design, installation, commissioning, and subsequent management of the system of spatially separated antenna nodes. These nodes connect to a common source to provide uninhibited wireless service throughout the Commercial Bay precinct.

The project rollout became somewhat challenging owing to timing, and the COVID-19 pandemic, explains White.

“We did the first walkthrough the day before the first COVID lockdown and dictated deployment for the duration of the project.”

“With the first and then second lockdown, care had to be taken to maintain distance and keep the team safe. We worked with the client to create safe areas so work could progress while protecting team members. We introduced cleaning stations and the team quickly got used to working with the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times,” White says.

Furthermore, global supply chain disruptions affected the delivery of key equipment required to meet a tight schedule.

“Fortunately, suppliers went the extra mile to manufacture and ship the equipment and Kordia had excellent support from a local logistics company which fast-tracked the gear through customs. Overall, we were able to go from design to completion in just 50 days, which given the circumstances was incredible.”

The significant number of businesses moving into the PwC Tower created further challenges.

“As each business had a different architect, this required consulting with each one to obtain approval for the antenna locations, so we weren’t impacting the overall design of the interior office space,” White says.

“In addition to occasionally walking up and down 36 flights of stairs, we also had to take care working around architectural ceilings, furnishings and tradesmen delivering other aspects of the building.”

Ready for a bright future

As 5G networks are already operational in parts of New Zealand including Auckland, the work done by Kordia Solutions has an immediate impact as PwC and other businesses move into the PwC Tower.

Thanks to the Kordia team – which included sales, legal, engineering, project management, logistics, estimation and finance experts, along with 21 installers – every individual visiting Commercial Bay enjoys unimpeded access to cellular services, regardless of which telco operator their device connects to.

“Whether inside or outside, the result of this project is your devices will work to the best of their capabilities. The entire installation of around nine kilometres of cabling is all but invisible,” White says.