American Tower Courts Agents, VARs to Sell Edge Data Center Colocation

"[Partners] have struggled to find reputable data center space for their clients," American Tower's director of business development said.

James Anderson, Senior News Editor

September 16, 2021

3 Min Read
data center

American Tower is helping channel partners sell its edge data center services with its updated program.

The real estate investment trust (REIT) on Thursday unveiled the Data Center Channel Partner program, which caters to both reseller and agent partners. The company is making the push into the channel as it tries to lure business customers.

Agents can earn evergreen commissions, and resellers can earn discounts depending on how many racks they take down. The program also includes market development fund opportunities. The barrier to entry is low, as American Tower is only asking for partners to hold a basic cloud certification from elsewhere in the industry. David Fox, director of business development, said partners won’t face any competition from direct sales, although American Tower can provide sales engineers to help them with deals.

Here’s our most recent list of important channel-program changes you should know.


American Tower’s Halle Shurland

The company last year announced a new partner program. American Tower in March introduced its first service distributor partnership and a partner relationship manager tool. More recently American Tower has appointed Halle Shurland as channel sales manager. It has also tapped the JS Group to help it design its program.


American Tower boasts the largest cellphone tower collection in the world. It owns the property and structure of approximately 42,000 sites in the U.S., and leases space to the largest wireless carriers and about 1,000 smaller carriers and government agencies. Historically the company has not invested much in sales, as the towers tend to “sell themselves,” according to Fox.


American Tower’s David Fox

“When the bulk of your revenue really only comes from five to six customers depending where you are, you really don’t need a huge sales force,” Fox said.

But as of 2019, American Tower has been offering data center services in an effort to build residual revenue. The company builds the “edge data centers” at the base of its towers.

However, these edge data centers cater to a different type customer than what American Tower traditionally serves. That is the enterprise, which Fox defines as any company that’s not a major cellphone carrier or data center provider. And because American Tower traditionally keeps its SGNA low, it will be banking on the channel to scale.

“We are not going to build a huge sales force to do that. We want to build all of that through the channel,” Fox said.


JS Group’s Janet Schijns

JS Group CEO Janet Schijns called American Tower’s indirect sales efforts a “game-changer.”

“I truly think there’s a revolution coming in edge compute, and the channel is very central in that as they work with customers to get closer data and have lower latency, ” Schijns said. “This is fundamentally going to shift how partners have the services and solutions that they need available in their local market.”

The Offering

American Tower currently operates seven data centers: two in Atlanta; two in Colorado; one in Austin, Texas; one in Jacksonville, Florida; and one in Pittsburgh. Fox said the majority of the data centers reside in tier II and III cities as opposed to the country’s very largest metropolitan areas.

“We know that those areas can be underserved at times, and we’re looking to provide compute, storage and things for those communities so they don’t have to put it all on some regional [data center] somewhere far away or have to get on a plane to see their equipment,” he said.

Similarly, channel partners have faced the same scarcity when it comes to colocation.

“They’ve struggled to find reputable data center space for their clients,” Fox said. “This is really transformational for the partners to be able to have inventory in their local market.”

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email James Anderson or connect with him on LinkedIn.


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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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