This surprisingly important Baltimore 'telecom hotel' has a new owner - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Feb. 15, 2016 12:43 pm

This surprisingly important Baltimore ‘telecom hotel’ has a new owner

A sizable portion of the world's data traffic flows through One Market Center in downtown Baltimore, according to the CEO of its new owner, AiNet.

Racks on racks.

(Photo by Flickr user Bob Mical, used under a Creative Commons license)

Located near the Howard Street Tunnel on Lexington Avenue, One Market Center doesn’t stand out when you walk by.

“Looking at it, you wouldn’t even notice it,” said Deepak Jain.

But in telecom circles, the 200,000-square-foot building is known as the hub for data flows in Maryland, and beyond. The founder and CEO of AiNet, Jain said he has known about building’s importance for almost 20 years. Now, his data center company owns the “telecom hotel.”

In a transaction announced last week, AiNet purchased One Market Center from the Bernstein Management Company for $20 million, according to Jain.

The strategic importance of One Market Center is tied to two key elements: location and population.

On location, it sits close to the data centers in Northern Virginia, where The Atlantic reported that up to 70 percent of worldwide internet traffic flows. There’s also a huge concentration of people on the I-95 corridor.

When data needs to reach population centers in D.C., New York or all of Europe, there has to be a physical pathway to get from Northern Virginia to those places, Jain explained. One Market Center is positioned on the path of data cables that reach as far South as Miami, and across the Atlantic to Europe.

In all, Beltsville-based AiNet estimates that One Market Center underpins a quarter of the world’s traffic.

Often, the data cables follow train tracks. That’s a fitting comparison to the switching that happens in the telecom hotel.

Communications companies who move lots of data have space in telecom hotels. In this one, Verizon, Comcast, Windstream and Zayo already have space, among others, according to AiNet. The telecom hotel is the point where connections are exchanged, such as when a Comcast customer downloads something from a Verizon customer.

“Think of it as a train station for all of your data traffic,” Jain said.

AiNet owns other properties, but plans to make One Market Center its premier data center. In addition to the switching, the company is also extending its existing offerings like storage as a service, federal regulatory compliance and cybersecurity.

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