12 June 2014
ITW 2014 marked Vodafone Carrier Services' first full year of operation. The company’s CEO Brian Fitzpatrick shares his thoughts on the last 12 months with Capacity.
Vodafone waited until last May at ITW 2013 to officially launch
its wholesale unit, Vodafone Carrier Services. The carrier
market had known for some time that the company were plotting a
move into the segment, following its $1 billion acquisition of
CWW in 2012, but there was a great deal of intrigue and mystery
about what one of the largest and most powerful mobile
operators on the planet was up to in wholesale.
Fast-forward a year and Vodafone Carrier Services is finding
its feet in the wholesale market. The company’s CEO, Brian
Fitzpatrick, in fact considers it to be a "very successful"
first year of operation.
He says that besides exceeding all its financial commitments to
the Vodafone Group, which is "obviously a great
accomplishment", the integration process has gone much smoother
than he anticipated overall.
"Prior to forming Vodafone Carrier Services, we were really
operating as 27 independent companies, each buying and selling;
similar to what we do now, but on their own," he reflects. "I
expected bringing those companies together to be a challenge,
and in some cases we found some issues that we were not
expecting, but the teams have come together very fluidly, with
everyone very quickly realising the benefits of coming together
and operating as one."
Communicating externally to other carriers that
Vodafone’s wholesale operations now act under just
one company has also been a major priority over the last 12
months. Fitzpatrick implemented what he coins as a "global
account management approach".
"A large global carrier, for example, may have historically had
27 different interactions with Vodafone because it would be
interacting with each entity independently," he says.
"We’ve been successful over the course of 12
months in fully implementing that global account strategy, and
the feedback that we’re getting from our customer
base is positive, because we’re much easier to
On the infrastructure side, Vodafone Carrier Services has spent
the last 12 months reviewing its capabilities. Described as
"almost as an inventory check of our own assets", it included
analysing everything from the company’s subsea
cable capacity through to its long-haul or local loop access in
As well as providing a clear overview of its global
infrastructure, the review has also allowed Fitzpatrick to put
in place some new initiatives that are now "fully funded and
endorsed" by the Vodafone board.
He exclusively revealed to Capacity that over the
course of the next 12 to 18 months, the company will migrate
all of its voice minutes to a fully IP-intelligent routing
platform. This is a major move: Vodafone handles upwards of 60
billion minutes of traffic per year. As well as bringing far
greater control and efficiency to its network traffic,
Fitzpatrick also hopes it will lead to the highest quality of
service at the lowest cost.
"Historically, each one of our companies had control of the
routing of the traffic, so we’re bringing this all
together and creating one interconnected IP infrastructure that
will have one software control worldwide," says
Work on the intelligent routing programme will commence in the
coming months, starting first with Vodafone’s
largest operating companies, which naturally carry the largest
volumes of international traffic.
There are two components of the network migration to consider:
the interconnection of Vodafone’s operating
companies to the new network, and the interconnection of its
"It really allows us to create a Vodafone 'on-net
footprint’ that includes all of our operating
companies throughout the world. Once this is implemented, we
can get creative with how we market our footprint to our
carrier customers," says Fitzpatrick.
"We will hopefully provide them with some very attractive
economics. Currently we might not be as attractive in a certain
location, but this will allow us to aggregate more volumes of
traffic especially into locations where we own the networks
ourselves," he adds.
Local access on a global scale
And with Vodafone Group continuing its aggressive M&A
strategy worldwide, the "on-net footprint" of Vodafone Carrier
Services is only set to grow.
Moves such as the acquisition of Kabel Deutschland last
October or the more recent deal for Spanish cable
operator Ono in March are significantly enhancing
Vodafone’s local access capabilities.
Fitzpatrick estimates that in 13 countries worldwide, Vodafone
are ranked second or third in terms of access reach. It is
rapidly enabling the company, he says, to become an alternative
provider for local loop access to carriers throughout the
"I think probably one of our most attractive products, which is
receiving a great deal of interest, is our local access
capability," he says. "We have already started proactively
marketing these services to larger carriers that market
enterprise services and it has been received glowingly. The
carriers want an alternative to the incumbent. They
historically did not think Vodafone would have control of these
assets, but we are in the process of making sure everyone
understands our capability in each country."
IPX and beyond
The company has also been extremely proactive in marketing its
IPX offering. Fitzpatrick says the service has been received
very positively so far, which given the size and scale of
Vodafone’s mobile operations is not a
"Mobile operators want to interconnect with Vodafone and we
want to interconnect with them from an LTE roaming perspective.
If you are going to go through an interconnection it makes most
sense to go through a direct IPX interconnection," says
Fitzpatrick. "Some, due to their business requirements, would
rather build through an alternative or third-party provider,
because they already have an interconnection established. So we
are trying to modify our offerings based on what the market is
asking us for."
As a result of its IPX offering, Vodafone Carrier Services has
also been working more closely with Vodafone Roaming Services
in order to fast-track the roll-out of LTE
roaming services worldwide.
"We are working completely transparently with our roaming team
in order to leverage expertise on the IPX side. LTE is an
absolute priority at a global level. We have quite aggressive
roll-out plans for the next year or so," says Fitzpatrick.
"Every major mobile operator wants to establish roaming
Fitzpatrick concedes that the Vodafone brand will first and
foremost be associated with mobile. But he believes "word is
getting out" in the carrier market, and that the company has
already been "quite successful in striking up contracts with
some of the larger carriers".
Assembling a team that understands
An industry veteran with a career spanning over 25 years,
including senior executive roles at BT Wholesale, TeleGlobe
(acquired by Tata Communications in 2005) and Frontier
Communications (acquired by Global Crossing in 1999),
Fitzpatrick recognises that the wholesale market revolves
around building relationships.
"We have spent a lot of time hand-picking a team. Some bring
20-plus years of very specific carrier experience to the team
in different regions and different markets. All come from a
very competitive background," he says.
With the right team in place and several major initiatives in
the pipeline, Fitzpatrick is confident for Vodafone Carrier
Services’ prospects in its second year of
operation: "We have built a good foundation to move forward. I
would expect to see steady growth throughout the next year and
we will continue to bring on top talent as our business grows,"
"If we can execute on our intelligent routing platform as well
as our IPX initiatives then we will be in very good shape."