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American Tower Moves Forward With Edge Data Centers

By J. Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor

American Tower made an important step today in its efforts to provide edge data centers, debuting a channel program, which allows designated agents to play a key role in helping customers collocate in edge data centers in Atlanta, Georgia; Austin, Texas; Boulder, Colorado; Denver, Colorado; Jacksonville, Florida; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“With the focus on enterprise network elasticity and network disaster recovery, demand for bandwidth and connection from users at the edge is rising,” said David Fox, director of business development, U.S. tower innovation, American Tower. “The strategic location of our Edge data centers will help meet this demand.

Additionally, XaaS1 became first master agent signed up to lease space to end users for data center collocation at the edge.

“Because of XaaS1’s established relationships, our first master agent agreement will be a great vehicle to extend services to users who need critical data-intensive applications to work quickly and efficiently at the edge,” Fox said.

American Tower Edge Data Centers offer turnkey infrastructure, primary and backup power distribution, fire monitoring, security, and cooling. Using the ground space of existing towers, where connectivity already occurs, American Tower Edge Data Centers create an improved network architecture closer to key operators, which features guaranteed network service levels and 24/7/365 network operations center. The data centers feature secure areas with access control and 24/7/365 site monitoring.

American Tower Tackles Data Centers Globally

Tom Bartlett, president and CEO, said the company expects growth in providing data centers globally to MNOs, hyperscalers, enterprise accounts and data center companies, during the company’s fourth quarter 2020 earnings call. He said American Tower can provide a data center platform with its 200,000 sites in more than 20 countries, including the sites recently purchased from Telxius in Germany.

“In markets like Germany we anticipate that edge computing will be important for carriers and enterprise accounts themselves as they seize the benefits of 5G,” he said.

Vertiv, manufacturer of an edge-ready micro data center system, said the COVID-19 pandemic showed the criticality of data centers and vaulted them into fourth utility status.

“Data centers have been moving toward public utility-type status for some time, but the pandemic has crystalized the need to establish the kinds of official guardrails that have been commonplace across other utilities,” said Gary Niederpruem, chief strategy and development officer for Vertiv. “This isn’t just about working from home, although that is part of it. More importantly, it is about supporting the digital economy in its most mission-critical forms, which include increased reliance on telemedicine and health, enhanced e-commerce, and global telecommunications and mass media.”

Last fall, EdgePresence began deploying low-cost edge data centers nationally at cell tower sites in tier 2 and tier 3 markets through partnerships with Schneider Electric and its distributor Accu-Tech. The Schneider EcoStruxure Data Center solution provides redundant 12-cabinet microdata centers that serve 20 to 30 clients.

Early in 2019, Crown Castle International partnered with Vapor IO, a provider of tower-connected edge collocation and interconnection services, under the Vapor IO Kinetic Edge brand to use Crown Castle’s assets, including its tower real estate and metro fiber.

Vapor IO and Crown Castle later jointly developed a service that seamlessly interconnects Vapor IO’s Kinetic Edge with Amazon Web Services (AWS) via Crown Castle’s high-speed Cloud Connect to enable a  mobile and wireless edge applications that span the continuum from edge to core.

Back in 2017, Vertical Bridge led the way in edge compute partnering with its sister company DataBank, a Dallas-based data center provider, to develop micro data centers (MDC) to host edge computing at the base of cell towers. The two companies’ parent corporation, Digital Bridge, publicly announced the plan to enter data centers back in 2014.

“We see micro data centers as part of the major convergence that is taking place,” said Bernard Borghei, executive vice president of operations and co-founder of Vertical Bridge. “Time was needed for technology to catch up, and the carriers needed to understand the benefits of this approach.”