From landlines to the cloud: How telecom central offices are finding a second life as 5G data centers

27 April 2021 Tate
5G Data Center Conversion

A telecom central office is a building that houses equipment and technicians that connect subscriber home and business telephone lines to a local loop. The building utilizes telephone switches to connect calls locally or through a long-distance carrier. As you can probably guess, these facilities are becoming more redundant each year as landlines are being used less frequently. But how can these buildings be repurposed to serve the area in a new way? These facilities are perfectly set up to be converted into 5G data centers and find new life with new technology.

One of the major factors that makes these buildings ideal for data centers is their existing infrastructure. Central offices are typically built with network integrity and natural disaster survivability in mind—two very important issues for data centers. The facility’s existing network availability is a good indicator that the data center that takes its place will have access to the major energy and 5G networking demands a building of this type requires. Equally important is the ability to survive natural disasters. Data centers require continuous operation with 24/7/365 access to the data. Any interruption to the system could potentially cost millions of dollars, so the facility that houses the data must have infrastructure in place to withstand natural disasters and other external disruptions. Telecom central offices are typically already built with this infrastructure in place, which makes it an easy transition between the building’s first use and its second use—5G data centers.

With the structural support in place to convert the building from a telecom central office into a 5G data center, your next step is establishing the internal infrastructure to house the equipment. First, you’ll need to create the necessary airflow containment aisles. This is typically done by implementing either hot aisle containment or cold aisle containment, whichever fits the needs of your facility best. This can be achieved with custom doors, partitions and roofs that are strategically executed to contain airflow. Our custom-built containment solutions make this process easier and quicker to implement, which can save you money and expedite the transition. Your next step will be creating storage racks for the IT equipment. Tate’s structural ceiling options allow you to hang racks, lighting and other equipment from the building’s ceiling. Instead of using custom-built, on-site structural systems, such as Unistrut, a Tate structural ceiling allows you to design and specify a support solution that is less expensive and faster to install. Finally, if the existing building was built using raised access floors, you can utilize this for cooling with our wide range of airflow panels and controls or accessories. The facility can be retrofitted with higher density panels to allow for the heat load and weight of the new equipment.

Repurposing telecom central offices into 5G data centers is a great example of utilizing the infrastructure that was created for now outdated technology to house new, updated technology. In this case, the existing infrastructure is already in place for what is needed for a data center. By utilizing our containment solutions, structural ceilings and airflow panels and controls, you can make the facility’s internal infrastructure just as useful for the building’s new life. And since all our products are custom manufactured, you can cut down on installation time and budget and get the facility up and running faster. Our support team is available to assist you with the design and engineering of a 5G conversion or other project. Email us at or call us at 1-800-231-7788 to get started.

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