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11 June 2014
As carriers continue to target international growth, Marc Halbfinger, CEO at PCCW Global talks to Capacity about the company’s expansion strategy.
Global has already had a busy 2014 and the company is showing
no signs that it is ready to abate its growth strategy in
Following a successful 2013 of
solidifying its position in Africa and the Middle East, largely
through its acquisition of Gateway Communications in
2012, the company is beginning to see the benefits of
investing in a range of new services early.
Marc Halbfinger, CEO at PCCW
Global, says it is now refocusing its attentions "primarily on
the Asia-Africa trade corridor", with plans to deliver services
ubiquitously from its home market of Asia, into Africa and on
to the Middle East.
"Following the Gateway
acquisition, we are now looking at investing in PoPs and more
people on the ground to deepen our coverage," he says. "We have
also been enhancing the relationships we have with service
providers across Africa to accommodate the rising growth for
Hong Kong to Europe
In January 2014, PCCW Global announced the formation of a 17-member
consortium to build the AAE-1 cable, landing across Asia,
Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
The cable, which is scheduled to
be ready for service in 2016, will span 15,000km and also
provide a landing point from Hong Kong to Europe.
Halbfinger said that there is
still significant demand for such a large-scale cable in the
market, with the infrastructure becoming "critical for the
evolution of global data".
One of the main reasons behind
PCCW Global’s investment in AAE-1 is the fact that
there has not been a cable landing between Hong Kong and Europe
for over 20 years.
"The last cable to land between
Hong Kong and Europe was SEA-ME-WE-3 and we believe
it’s time to have that again," he says. "There is
still demand in the market for one system with high bandwidth
and a flexible commercial structure built at an aggressive
If AAE-1 remains on course to
launch in two years, it will coincide with the launch of
SEA-ME-WE-5, which was also announced this year.
Carriers continue to invest in
cable systems, but Halbfinger does not believe that this
investment is made specifically to ensure profits for their
"Cables are predominately built
to improve cost infrastructure for services and applications
are delivered over the system," he says. "In our view, our
business case is justified in investing in this cable because
it improves our cost along the route."
PCCW Global reached a major milestone in March this year, and
claims it is now the only global network provider to achieve MEF CE 2.0 certification for all
eight carrier types of Ethernet services.
The certification, awarded by
the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) recognises companies that
identify Carrier Ethernet expertise within their
The initiative is the
industry’s first vendor-neutral certification
programme, and Halbfinger says it is a testament to the work
PCCW has put into its internal team to achieve the network
"It’s not just the
network that is vital," he says. "We have significantly
invested in a large cross-section of our personnel and our
engineers – in operations and presales, with many
passing individual MEF certifications."
The certification, according to
PCCW Global, represents the company’s success in
building a network that accommodates auditing design, relevant
equipment services, people with the right skill sets, and gives
customers confidence in partnering with the company.
"Being the first global network
to be MEF certified is a sign to the market that we are willing
to invest in our network."
Networks are becoming
smarter and faster
A major part of PCCW Global’s strategy going
forward will be its continued investment in SDN and NFV
The company was one of the first
global operators to begin investing in smarter networks, which
was "driven by the desire to become more efficient over time".
Halbfinger says he is striving to improve processes and lead
the way in the next stage of provisioning its network.
"We are taking the steady view
to think differently about managing our infrastructure and
reorganise the way we build and sell the applications we
deliver," says Halbfinger.
The company began investing in
SDN services in 2011, with its overall goal being to tap into
the next stage of infrastructure delivery.
It is already planning for
augmenting SDN with its transmission hardware and IP services,
and the company is aiming to accommodate a range of IT
solutions within its offering.
traditional business is built on core wholesale infrastructure,
predominately based on hardware solutions, and now Halbfinger
is targeting ways to restructure the way the
company’s network evolves.
He urges the industry to follow
PCCW Global’s lead in evolving in the same way
that software companies have changed their business models.
"We are now looking at how we
deliver services and make ourselves more dynamic in delivering
those services," says Halbfinger. "As an industry, we need to
reorganise our thought processes internally and externally to
accommodate faster and smarter networks."