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3 Things That Intrigued Us at Metro Connect USA 2021

Industry leaders from around the globe recently gathered virtually at Metro Connect USA 2021. They participated in intriguing conversations addressing the latest industry trends affecting the world today, including 5G, edge computing, COVID-19’s effect on the nation’s fiber infrastructure, and more. The American Tower team attended several sessions throughout the four-day virtual conference. If you missed it, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with the top three topics that piqued our interest at the annual event.

Convergence of Wireless Infrastructure and Data Centers

This subject is near and dear to our hearts at American Tower, as we operate 42,000+ towers in the U.S. and recently expanded into the data center space, with the acquisition of our Metro Data Center in Atlanta and the launch of six Edge Data Centers nationwide. The trend of building out edge data centers alongside towers, like ours, has proven to be successful and is expected to continue. Utilizing existing real estate, where connectivity naturally occurs, creates synergies and allows fast deployment of edge facilities. Adding infrastructure in underserved areas gives businesses that require fast communication, like hospitals, access to additional bandwidth with reduced latency. In areas with a dense population base, edge data centers will continue to be useful options for carriers.

Continued Rise of the Edge

As enterprises continue to adopt the use of edge collocation facilities, like our six Edge Data Centers across the country, the capabilities will grow. One panelist highlighted how edge proliferation is currently enabling the use of machines, such as those for online gaming, streaming entertainment, online shopping, leveraging automated technologies in warehouses, and more. Another panelist predicted the edge model will shift to a build-to-suit concept. Instead of an if-you-build-it-they-will-come approach, enterprises will begin to seek out edge collocation facilities for specific needs and work with edge collocation companies and carriers to tailor a data center for their network.

Across the conference, panelists generally agreed that the need for the edge will continue to rise in coming years, and we couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to be a part of helping enterprises meet their needs at the edge.

Fiber Infrastructure Needs

During Metro Connect USA 2021, panelists discussed that COVID-19 exposed holes in the global fiber infrastructure. Due to the pandemic, businesses shifted to remote work arrangements, where they relied on the quality of their employees’ residential internet service. One panelist noted that the existing fiber-based solutions became overwhelmed when work-from-home demands were added to existing infrastructure, on top of increased demand for streaming services, online gaming, and more.

One panel in particular focused on how a hybrid approach of more fiber-based solutions and Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) solutions can alleviate demand and lead to stronger connectivity for everyone. The panelist commented that bringing in more FWA options, which is a way to provide connectivity using wireless towers and antennas, instead of fiber, for last-mile connectivity, would alleviate stress on existing infrastructure.

That’s a Wrap

As always, Metro Connect USA 2021 presented expert viewpoints on various trends affecting our industry. Stay tuned to our blog for the latest on these topics as they progress throughout the year. We’ll also have information on how we can help your business operate more efficiently with a scalable network at the edge or our Metro Data Center in Atlanta. In the meantime, if we can answer any questions or help you with your collocation needs, contact us.

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