Reseau Telecom Network (RTN): What do you think about ICT in Africa?
Africa is the most exciting place to be in ICT at the moment. We are seeing mobile and internet subscribers on the African continent continuing to grow exponentially. Wholesale service providers in Africa play a pivotal role in the improvement of hybrid connectivity through the deployment of communication services via terrestrial fibre optic and satellite-based infrastructure. Mobile network operators (MNOs) and Internet service providers (ISPs) are the primary markets for all-inclusive hybrid connectivity wholesale solutions. We believe that mobile and internet access are not merely a consequence of social and economic growth in Africa, but also one of the key drivers of growth and it therefore becomes imperative to prioritise their availability and accessibility.
RTN: Connectivity is a key enabler in African development – What role can you play?
PCCW Global is a leading fibre, satellite and wireless wholesale connectivity provider in Africa. The company’s initial operations in Africa were focused on the cable and satellite markets of West and Central Africa. In 2012, PCCW Global strengthened its African footprint by acquiring the pan-African wholesale service provider, Gateway Communications, of which I was the CEO at the time. Gateway had a rich history of knowledge and expertise in the provision of IP (internet protocol) transit and cellular backhaul services via both satellite and terrestrial fibre to both MNOs and ISPs. PCCW Global is now able to ensure service providers and end-users obtain fully reliable, high-quality, entirely flexible and scalable internet capacity across the African continent. We were one of the first players to connect the landlocked countries in Africa which had previously been unable to access the high speed submarine cables being deployed around the African coast, backed up by highly reliable satellite connectivity. Today we own or lease capacity on all major submarine cables, and also manage satellite transponders over Africa which ensure exemplary satellite coverage of the continent. With over 24 dedicated teleports and access to multiple cable landing ports, we are today supplying landlocked countries with cross-border connectivity that is robust, reliable and affordable.
In 2014, we made a major investment in the Asia-Africa-Europe-1 (AAE-1) cable system in order to better support the rapidly growing trade links between Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. AAE-1 will be the first high-capacity cable system to link all of the major South-East Asian nations to Africa and Europe via the Middle East. This adds much needed submarine cable connectivity between Africa and Asia, and supports the growth of trade between these important markets. This commitment will benefit local and regional operators across Asia, the Middle East and Africa as well as international carriers and enterprises focused on developing Asia-Middle East-Africa trade routes.
RTN: PCCW Global recently won the Global Telecommunications Business (GTB) Innovation Award for network security. Can you tell us more about your developments in this area?
In October 2014, PCCW Global acquired Crypteia Networks, an acknowledged expert in security-as-a-service solutions. The result of this union was our Threat Management Service. The collaboration between a global communications service provider and an innovative security start-up has delivered a self-learning network security solution which offers early threat identification and mitigation on a global scale.
Network security is one of the most critical challenges facing communications service providers and enterprises today. When a network is compromised, an organisation risks its revenue, reputation and long-term trust. Our work with Crypteia Networks is focused on mining existing network, using it identify known and unknown threats, and even threats that have already comprised a network in real-time, and providing our customers with actionable intelligence to help mitigate these threats.
RTN: Your last word
We are continually seeking new and innovative ways to diversify our service offerings and to extend our capabilities into new areas. We are 100% focused on creating new value for our customers, and this includes going well beyond the provision of pure connectivity. While connectivity will always be the foundation of our business, we are actively addressing the growing demand for managed network services and security solutions. We pride ourselves on doing the “hard to do”, and on reaching “the hard to reach”. This winning formula has resulted in recognition for PCCW Global both at the GTB Innovation Awards, and also by Frost & Sullivan who recently recognised us for our commitment to creating customer value in Sub-Saharan Africa. We have also just been ranked as one of the 20 Most Promising Unified Communications Solution Providers in 2015 by CIOReview.
We are proud of these awards and also of our ability to help our customers capture new revenue, protect their profits and grow their businesses. We will continue to grow and develop our solutions portfolio in order to provide both enterprises and service providers with the tools they need to be successful in today’s highly competitive market.