American Tower formally launched its American Tower Edge Data Center initiative this 12 months, and it already has deployed six edge knowledge facilities in Denver and Boulder, Colorado; Pittsburgh; Atlanta; Jacksonville, Florida; and Austin, Texas.

American Tower is utilizing the bottom house at its present tower places the place it already has connectivity and electrical energy. The corporate has greater than 181,000 cell tower websites worldwide, and 40,000 of these websites are in america. 

Its purpose is to supply prospects the chance to make use of plenty of edge knowledge facilities after which “mixture them again to some regional knowledge middle,” mentioned Eric Watko, American Tower’s VP of innovation product line administration.

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In its first part, American Tower isn’t touting any advantages associated to its towers’ wi-fi tenants. As an alternative, it’s merely utilizing its actual property, electrical energy, safety and darkish fiber property to assist enterprises construct distributed knowledge facilities.

Watko mentioned one of many first steps was for American Tower to establish good tower websites for its edge knowledge facilities. He mentioned cell towers are located on myriad forms of plots, and never all of them are appropriate for deploying a brand new mini knowledge middle. “That has been one of many variables we have now to keep in mind,” he mentioned. “They’ve totally different sizes and powers. We now have a filtering system with our GIS group to find out which of them are prime candidates.”

However the tower websites are already nice for safety. They’re enclosed by fences with keycard entry and different limitations, and so they have safety cameras. The info middle business complies with safety operation middle (SOC) guidelines. And American Tower’s edge knowledge facilities will observe those self same compliance requirements.

“From a bodily safety perspective, it would appear and feel such as you’re going into a big knowledge middle,” mentioned Watko.

Edge knowledge middle prospects

The corporate’s first tenants are primarily IT firms and managed service suppliers that wish to ship functions nearer to their enterprise prospects with out having to ship knowledge backwards and forwards from a big, far-away knowledge middle. “They’re taking these enterprise companies that might be IT functions that do reserving and billing — these sorts of IT companies that you’ve a third-party handle in your behalf. They wish to ship these nearer to their workplaces,” mentioned Watko.

American Tower is discovering these preliminary prospects via digital marketplaces, and it’s additionally working with some gross sales channel companions. “In towers, you’re very a lot direct,” he mentioned. “Right here, it’s extra oblique; you publish on these marketplaces, construct a pool of gross sales brokers. It is rather regionalized proper now.”

American Tower has additionally partnered with the info middle firm Flexential, which might be re-selling its edge knowledge middle stock.

For connectivity, most of American Tower’s preliminary prospects are utilizing its darkish fiber to run transport connections from their very own present service suppliers.

Section Two plans

“The sting knowledge middle isn’t utilizing capabilities from the tower apart from the co-located piece of property,” mentioned Watko. “That’s our first wave.”

In part two of its plans, American Tower intends to leverage the relationships it has with the carriers that use its towers. “Because the carriers begin to transfer extra companies to the sting due to 5G, that’s the place we envision they may have house on the edge knowledge middle linked to the tower, and that’s the place the 2 worlds begin to come collectively,” mentioned Watko. “You’ll have an enterprise and an MNO co-located.”


Final 12 months, American Tower acquired the Atlanta-based ColoATL knowledge middle. It was the corporate’s first acquisition within the knowledge middle market. It mentioned it acquired ColoATL to study extra about how knowledge facilities function and the way enterprises cross-connect within the knowledge middle.

Now, its Atlanta Edge Knowledge Heart connects darkish fiber with its close by ColoATL facility.

RELATED: American Tower dips toe in edge computing space

“When the American Tower US Innovation group needed to know the info middle enterprise, we purchased ColoATL, which was a mature regional knowledge middle enterprise in Atlanta,” mentioned Watko. “In parallel we recognized a number of websites to develop and deploy our edge knowledge middle. From the learnings at ColoATL we’ll take these greatest practices and apply to our edge knowledge middle enterprise.”

American Tower isn’t the one tower firm entering into the sting compute enterprise. Crown Fortress has a minority funding in Vapor IO, an organization that’s constructing out its Kinetic Edge platform in 36 markets by the top of 2021.

RELATED: Vapor IO sticks with edge data center deployment plan despite Covid

And SBA Communications has a product referred to as SBA Edge.