We hear about small cell technology a lot these days, but mostly as a future thing that the big wireless carriers hope will save them from the coming data flood. Today's news of an actual deployment up in Vermont therefore catches my eye. EdgeConneX has been selected by CoverageCo to deploy and manage an initial small cell network throughout the state.
The buildout itself is powered in part by an award to CoverageCo from the Vermont Telecommunications Authority, and aims to bring real mobile data coverage to more of the state than national providers are willing to do on their own. If successful, the carrier and technology-neutral approach seems like a model that other rural operators might be able to replicate.
Small cells are hot right now as a concept, and widespread implementations can't be that far off. But wireless companies have been less and less interested in directly managing the distributed infrastructure they already have as they jockey for position on spectrum and devices. Carriers worldwide have been starting to turn to the likes of Ericsson to do that sort of thing. But small cells are a new piece of infrastructure, and one with special needs that the sector has yet to figure out entirely.
I think we're going to be hearing more from EdgeConneX in the coming months though, mainly because of what they haven't yet announced. According to his LinkedIn page, Former Sidera Prez Clint Heiden has resurfaced with EdgeConneX's management team. He's usually the guy that gets brought in to make something strategic happen, to make the case for a company's assets on a bigger stage. And what's followed that the last five times has been a successful sale of each company.
That doesn't mean EdgeConneX is for sale (too early for that sort of thing), it means that they've got some big plans they want to drive forward in a very public way. EdgeConneX specializes in building and managing infrastructure at the edge service providers need at the edge of the network rather than within the familiar boundaries of the carrier hotel enclaves.
As backhaul networks of all types become both more complicated, house more actual content, and contribute to (or detract from) the cost structures of network operators, EdgeConnex clearly hope to ride the wave - whatever form it takes. But given Heiden's still stealthy presence, I suspect there's fiber involved somehow.