By Contributing Editor, Kathy Xu
Based in Columbia, Missouri, Bluebird Network has over 6,000 fiber route miles of high-speed broadband and fiber-optic connections, and 135 Points of Presence (PoP) sites spanning the Midwest, including Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, Tulsa, Omaha, Des Moines, and Memphis. The company also has an underground data center, Bluebird Underground, located in a subterranean mine in Springfield.
Data Center POST recently interviewed Bluebird Network’s Director of Carrier Sales, James Taylor. James is a 28-year telecommunications industry veteran with experience in sales, operations and business development. Prior to joining Bluebird, he worked with the Lincoln Telephone Company, Aliant Communications, Alltel and Windstream.
James talked about Bluebird Network’s upcoming attendance at International Telecoms Week (ITW) 2018, taking place May 6-9 in Chicago, the expansion of 4G into rural America, and the adoption of small cell technology in both urban and suburban markets.
Data Center POST, Kathy Xu (DCP-KX) Question: What network challenges does the industry face as we head to the middle of 2018 and beyond?
Bluebird Network, James Taylor (BLUEBIRD-JT) Answer: Extending fiber connectivity to all businesses and consumers for high-speed internet access is critical. With the expanding need for additional bandwidth from devices and applications, the current level of pricing in the industry is discouraging capital investment into underserved areas.
DCP-KX Q: What technologies do you see changing and shaping the industry and how?
BLUEBIRD-JT A: It will be interesting to see how SD-WAN is adopted by business users. It can be a lower-cost and highly flexible network solution for many companies, but it still relies upon each location having ready access to commercial internet at an acceptable speed.
It will also be interesting to see if wireless internet can evolve from a fixed, point-to-point, line of sight service in rural settings to a more robust 4G LTE service. There are ever-increasing applications such as in agriculture that will require broadband services in rural and suburban areas, which will necessitate expansion into regions where the population is not as dense. Today, it is a function of investment in a tower, and return on that investment by the potential users of the service.
DCP-KX Q: What broad trends do you see in telecoms in the next 12 months?
BLUEBIRD-JT A: Small cell tower applications will be pushed out into the large metropolitan markets and present some challenges within certain areas. Cities and suburban residents have protested the distribution of “little buzzing boxes” in their neighborhoods and have opposed additional tower sites to penetrate new areas. Small cells are designed to blend with the existing surroundings, taking space on existing light poles, buildings, or other structures.
DCP-KX Q: What are new developments and initiatives that are exciting for your company in 2018?
BLUEBIRD-JT A: Our Bluebird Underground Data Center, located in Springfield, Missouri, will be expanding in late 2018. The expansion will add 4,700 square-feet of white space, bringing our facility to 22,300 square-feet of white space. In addition to the new space offering, the expansion will add a third 2MW generator, a second UPS, and 10,000 more gallons of fuel storage.
DCP-KX Q: Why is ITW such an important industry event for you and your company?
BLUEBIRD-JT A: ITW is a great venue for bringing all players in the industry to a single location to expand business opportunities on an international basis. It has grown to be more than just an international show, as U.S. participation has increased in recent years. The greater exposure we have for our company increases the number of potential opportunities for growth.
DCP-KX Q: Thank you for your time today, and we wish you the best of luck at ITW!