BY J. SHARPE SMITH, SENIOR EDITOR
October 16, 2018
George Townsend, who has 23 years of experience on the carrier and enterprise side of the telecom industry, has joined WANRack, a designer and builder of custom private fiber wide area networks (WANs) for K-12 schools with dedicated home-run fibers. His hiring is a sure sign that diversification is in WANRack’s future.
“Through his time with Progress Telecom and TowerCloud, Townsend brings to WANRack ample experience of fulfilling the needs of carriers and enterprises for cell towers, fiber to the tower/premises, and even small cells,” said Rob Oyler, CEO and founder of WANRack.
As Executive VP and GM of Progress Telecom, a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) he helped to form in 1999, Townsend led wholesale and enterprise divisions and a dark fiber division on the eastern seaboard that became a lit transport division, connecting cable landing stations from Miami to New York.
Additionally, he ran the company’s cell tower division, which was one of the first in the nation to use utility infrastructure to allow wireless carriers to lease space on the existing communications infrastructure and place their equipment and lines within electrical substations, and to collocate on the existing transmission infrastructure.
As an original team member at TowerCloud, Townsend served as a communications infrastructure specialist, building high-capacity broadband transport and small cell networks. TowerCloud was a pioneer in building fiber to the tower, helping carriers move from copper to the tower to an all-fiber, managed lit service.
Townsend’s entrance comes at a time when Oyler has expanded WANRack into 18 states and has received a capital infusion from Grain Management. David Grain was one of the first board members of TowerCloud.
“I was impressed with WANRack’s core competencies and what they were doing in the K-12 space,” Townsend said. “Rob’s value proposition of building private networks for school systems and giving them control over their own destiny is unique.”
As WANRack continues to sell to school districts, Townsend will oversee the diversification into the enterprise and carrier spaces.
“They are knocking it out of the park with K-12,” Townsend said. “We want to spread out the target audience to layer on enterprise, wholesale carriers and wireless carriers. That is a compelling business model.”
The business plan will include carrier-grade greenfield builds and managed services, as well as private networks for small cells in areas where carriers are challenged for backhaul.
“We can overbuild existing networks with additional fiber or conduits to serve the market for enterprises or wireless carriers. Or we may, when we first roll out the network, have dedicated fibers to the school system on the private fiber network, but add additional fiber and conduit to potentially serve other markets through a cost allocation model,” Townsend said. “The diversification can go both ways. As WANRack begins to target the wireless carriers, we may build a greenfield network for a wireless carrier in an area where it doesn’t have a school district. That network could be built with capacity to serve the school district at a later time.”
Townsend’s deep knowledge of the enterprise and wireless carrier spaces will be key to WANRack’s expansion beyond K-12 to include other markets. WANRack will be adding other staff, as well.
“We want to remain excellent at our core business, private fiber WANs where school systems get dedicate homerun fibers, Level 2 control, no oversubscription anywhere in the network. That is very powerful. We are looking for strategic growth. As we expand, the business model will morph and shift, but we will be very strategic,” Townsend said.