CEO says edge infrastructure rollout will be ‘customer-driven’

Crown Castle continued its investment in edge specialist Vapor IO with its participation in a Series C funding round led by private equity firm Berkshire Partners, itself an investor in Crown. In an interview with RCR Wireless News, Vapor IO CEO Cole Crawford explained the funding would be used to deploy the company’s Kinetic Edge infrastructure with plans to stand up 100-plus locations in the 2020 timeframe.

“The big news around Kinetic Edge,” Crawford said, “is we are now capable of deploying our own capital. We don’t need to find real estate partners. We are in full control of where and when we choose to deploy our Kinetic Edge locations. That is a fundamental shift from the business model we had before.”

Vapor’s Kinetic Edge solution is essentially a micro data center. The company has two active sites in Chicago, a third underway and two more in a planning stage. Using its fiber-connected edge locations, Vapor offers up colocation, interconnection and networking for users like operators, cloud providers and enterprises.

“We think the edge has two killer apps,” Crawford said. The first is “simple economics…eliminate billions of dollars of backhaul through edge peering.” The second killer app “is effectively the easy button. We’ve created the easy button both economically and functionally to solve for this thing we call edge.”

The larger conversation around the edge has developed in tandem with 5G, which is envisioned as providing significant latency enhancements to support a new era of applications like industrial robotics, autonomous vehicles and mobile augmented and virtual reality for instance. To do this, storage and compute power needs to physically reside closer to the end user.

“We just don’t see the demand for data and devices waning anytime soon,” Crawford said. “There is a network transformation happening right now in the 5G space. We are witnessing in real time the re-architecture of the internet. Who wins is obviously the billion dollar question. We think that we’ve obviously built a pretty good mousetrap for solving for some of the complexities.”


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