Does Carrier-Neutrality Accelerate Demand in Western Canada?

CALGARY, ALBERTA – CapRE’s 2018 Calgary and Alberta Data Center Summit featured a full-day of first-rate market analysis and perspective. The opening panel of the day, Greater Calgary Center Market 360: What Firms are Actively Developing, Investing and What are the Unique Regional Advantages from Site Selection, Connectivity and Cost of Power Perspectives? largely focused on two things – what Calgary is doing well to attract data centers, and what it could do better. However, at the conclusion of the discussion, the panel took a question from the audience, which was much broader than they likely expected.

“Why is it important to be carrier neutral?” asked the attendee. “Does being carrier-neutral contribute to the acceleration of the Western Canadian market?”

data center summitAfter some input by other co-panelists, David Lod, Vice President and General Manager at Shaw Communications offered some perspective on this topic as a carrier himself. “Being a carrier but having our data center, the first conversation that we had was that it would be carrier-neutral so that we’d have the TeleSys, the Bells, All Streams, SuperNet, all in that facility. Because the discussion around where you do your compute now is highly tied to the network first, not really the location of that data center specifically.”

According to Lod, the main challenge that our industry faces in Canada, and in western Canada specifically, is that addressing the vast geographic reach of the country, in order to get to all of the citizens and businesses that are in need. “And we’re limited. Think about it. There are sub-five  regional providers. You have little regional pockets of people that have that access. But we don’t have AT&T, their last mile, for everybody,” he explained.

“Zayo bought some of the AllStream assets. So we don’t have the European concentration of fiber available at all,” he continued. “Nor is anyone going to come in say that they’re going to put in $20 Billion in fiber runs from Montréal through to Vancouver. They’re just going to buy additional access off of the fiber pipe that’s there already. So that is a difficult thing to bring a new entrant into. But we need to be allowing people to come and build that access into these facilities, which is happening today, we just don’t have the same competitive landscape or the same investment profile for that matter.”

In response to those comments, Chad Arnold, Senior Account Executive, Equinix interjected into the conversation. “That’s exactly how we’re partnering with Shaw,” he shared. “Think about the limitation of fiber-based access providers in Canada. For customers that are trying to actually consume and build that hybrid environment we are allowing these different enterprises to tether into these different access points, so you have that extremely high carrier density, whether that’s Seattle or Chicago or other markets that have that. It’s creating relevance in Canada, while we might be a little stranded from a fiber network provider perspective.”

For more coverage of the exclusive Calgary insight on this panel, check out previous CapRE Insider Reports: