‘Carrier hotels’ check into alliance

North American carrier hotel owners, including 151 Front Street West, CRG West, The telx Group Inc. and The Westin Building, have formed the Carrier Hotel Alliance, a resource for existing and prospective customers to explore telecommunications, co-location and secure data centre opportunities.

A carrier hotel is a type of data centre where multiple telecommunications network or service providers, such as telcos or Internet service providers, site their connections to one another’s networks or points of presence.

“We all share the same beliefs and operate our businesses very similarly with slight technical differences,” said Hunter Newby, chief strategy officer with The telx Group Inc. “All of us want to make sure our customers have what they need.”

Existing and potential customers include major, second- and third-tier carriers, as well as enterprise, government, research and education customers.

“We’re creating a platform for our customers to interconnect with one another,” said Scott Metcalfe, director of leasing and property management with Northam Realty Advisors Ltd., which owns 151 Front Street West in Toronto. 151 Front Street is home to more than 150 telecommunications companies, with nine fibre optic networks and more than 7,000 strands of fibre. The telx Group Inc. is located in New York City and Atlanta, CRG West is in L.A., Washington, D.C. and San Jose, Calif., and The Westin Building is in Seattle.

“We’re covering the major markets and major carrier hotels in North America and we do have similar tenants and customers, but we also have different tenants and customers,” said Metcalfe, adding the goal is to cross-pollinate. Canadian carriers, for example, could do business with telx in New York.

Peer One Network and Switch and Data, for example, are located in virtually all of the buildings. “Those types of end users are significant real estate customers … and they have varying levels (of requirements), whether it’s a point of presence site or a large co-location facility in all of the major markets, which we address through this Carrier Hotel Alliance.”

These buildings are quite unique, said Newby. “That’s because of the tenants and what the tenants do and it’s all driven by their need to connect.” CHA brings it together at a physical point, or “meeting room,” within the buildings, and also provides marketing support, including newsletters, events and participation in conferences.

“We are very different than generic co-location space and we’re very different than generic data centre space,” said Newby. “Our buildings incorporate those things, but over and above all of that, we are the key buildings in (our respective) cities that house all the fibre: the metro, regional and long-haul fibre and in some cases international long-haul. That is what differentiates us from a building down the street that offers co-lo space.”

Each carrier hotel has 100-plus providers of some shape or form, said Metcalfe, including IP, long-haul or traditional co-location services. “By understanding each of those businesses, if an end user comes along and says, ‘I need my vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and a cherry,’ we can tell them who to contact, whether it’s one or four different companies, and it’s all in the same facility or facilities.”

There’s no signed agreement between the carrier hotels – it’s an informal alliance – but the intent is to come to market looking more unified and educating new prospects on the benefits of locating in a carrier hotel. Some of these benefits include real estate cost savings and security.

This concept is unprecedented, but it couldn’t have happened sooner, simply because the key interconnection facilities were yet to be defined up until a few years ago. While Newby says North America is ahead of the rest of the world in this respect, there is potential for this concept to expand to other parts of the world, including Europe, Latin America and Asia.

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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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