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American Tower Jumps Into the Colo Business PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 April 2019 10:14

American Tower made its first acquisition in the data center sector by buying Colo Atl, a colocation and meet-me room business in downtown Atlanta.

The deal isn’t huge by data center standards, as Colo Atl operates about 26,000 square feet of colocation space across two floors. But it marks the arrival of an intriguing new player on the data center acquisition scene, as American Tower reveals its strategic interest in the interconnection business.

With the emergence of edge computing, a growing number of wireless companies have been acquiring assets in the data center sector, preparing for a future with greater integration between data centers, telecom towers and antennas.

American Tower has been actively exploring opportunities in edge computing. Much of this planning is focused on monetizing edge capacity at its thousands of tower sites, but the Colo Atl acquisition could be a bet that the earliest edge growth may involve creating denser networks in cities. The company says it will use the acquisition to “evaluate the interconnection marketplace directly as a complement to future edge data center growth.”

Connectivity Hub in Atlanta

Colo Atl provides carrier-neutral colocation and interconnection services from 55 Marietta Street, one of the carrier hotels in Atlanta. Colo Atl is owned and operated by Timothy Kiser, a 25-year industry veteran who designed more than 40 telecommunications facilities prior to the 2001 creation of JT Communications, the parent of the Colo Atl business. The deal was announced earlier this week by Bank Street, the investment bank that represented the seller.

“I think it’s a triple win,” said Kiser. “This works well for us, provides American Tower with an opportunity to get into a new vertical, and it’s a win for our tenants because they’ll have more business opportunities.”

Colo Atl has more than 100 customers, who can send data across one another’s networks through a cross connect – the physical connection between networks that knits the Internet together. The connections between tenants and carriers occur within the Meet Me Room (MMR), where Colo Atl embraces a model with no monthly recurring cross connect fees.

Colo Atl operates 26,000 square feet of colocation space on the 5th and 8th floors of 55 Marietta. The facilities are connected by vertical fiber risers, as well as diverse fiber that runs across the street to 56 Marietta, another carrier hotel with an even larger tenant base. Both buildings are in downtown Atlanta, a short walk from the CNN Center and Centennial Olympic Park.

Colo Atl is also home to the Georgia Technology Center (GTC), a live laboratory for network equipment vendors to highlight their latest optical hardware, and the Southeast Network Access Point (SNAP), which provides next-generation Internet Exchange (IX) solutions, including SDN peering.

Kiser said he and his team will continue under American Tower’s ownership. “They don’t want to change anything, other than that they want to grow the product,” said Kiser. “American Tower has a lot of relationships with folks who may want to collocate here with us. From a marketing perspective, they can have a bigger outreach.”