Turning Towers Into MicroData Centers One Pod at a Time

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The TowerXchange MeetUp Americas in Boca Raton last week offered a look not just at the international tower market, but vendors who are “pushing the envelope” in making the telecom infrastructure industry a player in the field of data collection and transfer.  For Doug Recker, CEO and Founder of Modular Life, it’s a question of who wants to take ownership of that sector, the tower owners, the carriers or third parties. With the market still undefined and largely unexplored, Recker knows one thing: you can’t have a micro data center without a pod.

Modular Life provides the housing for the fledgling market that “brings edge computing to a network near you.” His company partnered with Stulz, makers of micro data centers, to produce the Edgepod.  Recker said there is limited IT equipment at the base of each cell tower and what space is there, is intended for the operation of antennas and wireless signals.  Recker’s pods meet the “Four S” criteria: standalone, scalable, secure and standardized. With thefts at tower sites a major issue, each EdgePod includes a “man-trap” security entrance.

Recker said data takes a circuitous route traveling from the phone to the core internet provider and back to the main data center but by moving that content delivery system closer to the user, the transfer is not only more efficient but faster.  A content provider could cache the most popular downloads at the micro data center, like popular movies or songs, for instance. The oncoming wave of 5G applications follows suit with the need for massive data delivery for cars that are both autonomous and self-charging.  To do that, to paraphrase the sea captain in “Jaws,” ‘you’re going to need a bigger boat.’

“All of the carriers will need to make an investment in upgrading the cell tower equipment,” Recker said.  Since most towers are run with copper/coax cables, the transition to get to 5G and beyond will require fiber to the site.

“The market is young,” Recker said, “and the cell tower edge is undefined but we will see pilot programs starting soon.”

By Jim Fryer, Managing Editor, Inside Towers

June 25, 2018        

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